By EMILY RAMSEY
DOWNTOWN INTEREST: Bixby Economic Development Coordinator Trish Richey, left, and Bixby resident and business owner Red Stevenson stand in Be-Mar Chapel, located in downtown Bixby. Stevenson built the chapel in 2002 in memory of his late wife and offers it for weddings and other uses.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
As the city of Bixby continues its growth, so do its Chamber of Commerce and many business partners.
The chamber concentrates on growing local businesses and business revenue.
It does this largely through regular events, hosting about 60 per year. “We know that, for many in the business world, we are a pathway to the community,” says Bixby Chamber President Krystal Crockett. “With everything we do, we want to help Bixby businesses and the Bixby area and to build relationships between businesses because those relationships grow businesses.”
The chamber’s size has grown 280 percent since 2008 and has been recognized for the third consecutive time as one of the top 10 chambers in the nation by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.
“I think Bixby continues to receive this award because our chamber continues to be a relevant organization to our partners by connecting them to the community and each other, which in turn, helps to build business,” Crockett says.
The local housing market is another reason for the city’s push forward. It is currently seeing an upswing after the downturn three years ago. “Home sale prices are averaging just under $300,000,” says Economic Development Director Trish Richey. “We have also seen a great investment from builders. Building permits and home sales are on an upward incline.”
The fourth multi-family unit, Encore, came to Bixby in March and is 71 percent leased.
The Tulsa 66ers are returning to the SpiritBank Event Center after a three-year absence.
“When they left in 2009 for various reasons, we worked hard to get them back,” says Crockett. “The support is here. The city of Bixby, chamber and businesses all support and love the activity that comes with the 66ers’ games and conferences and the shows at the event center.”
100 percent of the facility is currently leased to businesses, bringing 186 new jobs to the community.
Downtown Bixby has received some recent expansion as well, with the remodeling of the Bixby Public School administration building and the Stone Mill Manufactured Stone building. Inspire Performing Arts is the newest fixture in downtown: a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building—one of the oldest and largest buildings in downtown Bixby.
Bixby recently saw its fourth grocery store at 111th Street and Memorial Drive: Reasor’s. Already in Bixby is Doc’s, opening in the early 1900s. Then came Aldi and Akin’s, with Sprouts Farmers Market to open in May of 2013.
In addition, the Bentley Sports Complex brought an additional $500,000 to the local economy in 2012.
In the coming years, Crockett expects to see much more emphasis on regional growth and collaboration between city leaders. “There’s a lot of areas of the country for businesses to go, lots of competition,” she says. “We’re going to do better regarding bringing businesses to the area if we work together. Regionalism is where everything is going.
“Anywhere within this region that a business moves to is going to be good for all of us.”
Bringing added stimulation to the Bixby economy is the Buy Bixby Campaign, entering its sixth year and running Nov. 3-Dec. 16.
“This program is a win for local businesses, the community and the city,” says Richey. “It raises the level of awareness as far as what’s in Bixby and hopefully increases businesses’ bottom line.”
The program has seen 11 additional businesses join the program this year, taking the number to 95 businesses.
On Dec. 17, the winning ticket numbers will be announced at Sutherlands, 15028 S. Memorial Dr. The first place price is $10,000 with four additional $1,000 prizes and a Cox bundle for one year.