For Oklahoma, businesses that power a town’s local economy are significant not only in the tangible jobs and economic advantages they bring but also in the stability and hope for growth they offer.
For Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Milling, prominence in the agricultural workforce made the Enid flour mill crucial to the city’s overall economic health. Early in 2016, ADM began considering relocation, causing many locals to take notice.
Partnership in action
“If we did not have ADM Milling, if we were to have lost them, it would have been more than the 70 jobs that they employ,” said Lisa Powell, associate director of Enid Regional Development Alliance. “It really would have had a tremendous ripple effect throughout northwest Oklahoma and even southern Kansas.”
It became apparent that one way to retain ADM was through modernizing its Enid mill. Community leaders decided that to do this, they needed to seek assistance from economic partners focused on growing communities and commerce across the state.
OG&E was the first call.
“OG&E, the city of Enid and the Enid Regional Development Alliance were all great to work with through this process,” said John Dick, commercial manager for ADM Milling. “They were true partners in getting the project moving in the right direction.”
That partnership included OG&E working in tandem with ADM and installing infrastructure beside the mill to fulfill its energy needs.
“ADM was willing to work with OG&E to let us utilize their property to build a substation right there, which would make it better for everyone in the long run,” said Steve Calvert, account executive for OG&E.
“Not only does [the partnership] allow for the growth of the new mill but also in the event that we grow in capacity and need to put in another mill, the power is there to make that happen for the future,” Dick added.
Energizing a Community
Local economic development doesn’t stop in Enid.
Recently, OG&E worked with the city of Durant and its economic development team to provide Commercial Metals Company (CMC) the power it needed get its steel and metal manufacturing plant up and running. Headquartered in Dallas, CMC took notice of Durant’s advantageous positioning and railway and highway connectivity.
“We started having a conversation with CMC, who are based out of Dallas, Texas,” said Greg Massey, president and CEO of First United Bank & Trust. “It was a big investment, over $300 million. [Their plant] is powered by electricity, and so OG&E was a big partner with us to get the lines they needed with the capacity they needed to be able to get this plant in.”
“As a kid I never thought about a plant like this being in Durant,” said Jeff Wood, Durant resident and senior account executive for OG&E. “I always thought of this as small town Oklahoma. It’s amazing for the community; it’s amazing for the people living in the community.”
Durant is a city on the rise, now experiencing an economic boom felt throughout the state, in part because of bringing in quality jobs from companies like CMC.
“Having good power supply is extremely important,” said Alan Jackson, director of operations for CMC Steel Oklahoma. “OG&E has gone above and beyond to make sure we have really good power requirements coming into the plant.”
Powering Oklahoma’s Economy
Since 2018, OG&E’s economic development team has directly contributed to the creation or retention of close to 8,000 jobs. OG&E has also helped secure crucial companies for the state such as Dal Tile’s expansion in Muskogee and Niagara Bottling in Oklahoma City.
One way OG&E accomplishes its economic development goals is by partnering with a variety of key economic development groups, including the Governor’s Economic Development Team, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and chambers of commerce, among others.
“Building strong, healthy communities requires an investment that goes beyond delivering reliable and affordable power,” said Alba Weaver, OG&E economic development manager. “We understand the business climate, workforce and training issues, economic incentives and other key areas that are critical to growing the communities we serve.”
Economic development is a team sport, one that requires businesses and community partners to compromise, think critically and aim high, even when the odds are stacked. For OG&E, supporting the needs of local businesses, such as Enid’s ADM, is just one more way the utility company is working to bring power and longevity to Oklahoma.
To learn more about OG&E’s economic development efforts, visit www.ogetogether.com.
Story provided by The Oklahoman
Written by: Eddie Roach