ENID, Okla. — Matt Parrish, president of the ERDA board of directors, said this past week the business marketing alliance for the Enid area has found the right kind of leader to guide ERDA and tell the story of Northwest Oklahoma into the future.

Enid Regional Development Alliance had been searching for a new executive director since October — following the resignation of director Lisa Powell — when Charlene Flanery was named the new executive director of ERDA on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Powell, with ERDA since 2009, was director for four years, was replaced by Debbie Moore, who took on the role of interim director. Moore said she and Flanery will determine Moore’s exact role, but she probably will go back to her former position as talent attraction director.

“The ERDA board of directors looks forward to working with Charlene to continue our efforts in making Enid a great place to live, work and grow,” Parrish said. “Charlene values business retention and expansion while having a clear vision of how we can attract new business and industry. We look forward to the growth of ERDA under her leadership.

“We’re all happy we’ve been able to get a lot accomplished despite Lisa Powell moving on,” he said, adding ERDA received more than 25 resumes for the position. “And Debbie’s done a great job as interim director …”

Flanery currently is executive director of the Blackwell Industrial Authority and Blackwell Economic Development Authority and has been with both organizations for six years.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the executive director to the Enid Regional Development Alliance,” Flanery said. “Enid is a community full of assets, making it a dream community for economic developers. I am looking forward to working with the city of Enid, local businesses and industries, Vance Air Force Base, each of the education institutions and state and local partners to focus attraction efforts on targeted industries and identify ways to help those industries that have had long-term investments in the community to continue growing.”

Business retention and expansion

Achievements accomplished by ERDA in the past year include the launch of the Work in Enid award, which pays $10,000 in student loan debt to new employees who qualify, with four recipients of that award so far.

A housing study of Enid was completed, with the report scheduled to be unveiled at ERDA’s luncheon Feb. 16.

The former StarTek building is being remodeled into downtown loft apartments and retail space. Eighteen one-bedroom units will be in the building. Gary Dezarn, originally from Enid, is leading those efforts. ERDA’s board of directors voted unanimously to support the remodel and will provide a renovation grant upon its completion.

ERDA assisted in the establishment of workinenid.com, a one-stop shop for available jobs in the Enid area, and the alliance also helped provide grant funding for local businesses through the Oklahoma Innovation and Expansion program.

“One of the things ERDA really focuses on is the business retention and expansion. That’s a very important part of supporting local businesses here,” Parrish said.

Attracting new business

A number of new businesses sprung up in the area, with Renew Energy building a facility that will create 90 new jobs in the remanufacturing of wind turbine drive trains. Chisholm Trail Meats, a meat processing plant, will increase the region’s meat processing capacity as well as create more jobs. Bri-Steel, of Canada, purchased the former GEFCO building, which is being renovated. Once renovations are complete, the plant will produce seamless pipes ranging from 12 to 36 inches, with wall thickness up to 3 inches. It also will make carbon steel and alloy steel pipes and is on track to be in production before the end of the year.

A ribbon cutting was held in March 2022 for the Garfield County Industrial Authority’s industrial park. A new road, named Venture Road, was established in 2022 and will open the door to develop the remaining 65 acres of the industrial park.

Big Lots and Burke’s Outlet opened last year on West Garriott, and Parrish said it is always a goal to attract new businesses.

“ERDA, the city of Enid and Retail Attractions work on bringing additional retailers to Enid to fill the market gaps that are currently here,” Parrish said.

Deal with S&K Cinema is hottest ticket in town

The most notable business attraction announced last year for Enid was a new movie theater, set to be built on Garland, south of Garriott. A deal was reached with S&K Cinema Holdings Group for a 54,000-square-foot entertainment complex. The complex will include bowling, virtual reality and state-of-the-art arcade games.

“That’s going to be a really family friendly area for Enid. I think it’s going to be great. And with the soccer complex (located further south), it’s going to be great for all the families coming to town,” Parrish said.

“The community of Enid can expect to have a very nice theater for them to be able to enjoy the entertainment in Enid, have things to do in Enid and no longer feel like they have to leave Enid to go see a movie. I think this is a win for the community …” Moore said in December.

Article by: Tanner Holubar Enid News & Eagle 2.12.23