Chamber Works with Region for Local Growth

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BUSINESS MODEL: Owasso Chamber of Commerce President Gary Akin discusses the current and future growth of Owasso, which is tied to regional success. “We are part of a 700,000 population region,” he says. “First and foremost, we are concerned with what to do to improve jobs and offerings for the city of Owasso. But in order to continue improvements of Owasso, there has to be a regional focus for Tulsa county as well.”

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

The Owasso Chamber of Commerce is working to grow jobs through regional and local business growth.

“It is important to secure and promote jobs in Owasso with our main focus being on maintaining and growing primary jobs that allow people to raise and support their families,” says Owasso Chamber President Gary Akin.

Owasso is the 14th largest city in Oklahoma with 40,000 people in and around its city limits.

“We are part of a 700,000 population region,” says Akin. “We want to work in partnership with the Tulsa chamber.

“First and foremost, we are concerned with what to do to improve jobs and offerings for the city of Owasso,” he says. “But in order to continue improvements of Owasso, there has to be a regional focus for Tulsa county as well.”

As part of this partnership, oice was formed six years ago as an agreement between city leaders as a way to identify regional issues.

“We are a body of influence as a region,” Akin says. “It helps to have the support of all the other cities around us. That way they see that it isn’t one city requesting something, but the region identified this as important for economic development.”
Akin has felt encouraged this year by the holding of property values in the Owasso area, as opposed to other areas of the country, and a 20 percent increase in residential home building and new home sites.

“We are a great city for first-time home buyers as well as for luxury homes,” he says. “But the city has provided lot availability with infrastructure and utilities for all income levels as well as development of home sites to meet various sectors.”

As a chamber, the focus is on residential, healthcare, education, retail and restaurants. In the residential sector, homes are maintaining their values. For healthcare, Owasso is home to St. John Owasso and Bailey Medical Center. Public and private education are highly rated in Owasso.

“Rejoice schools is one of the most highly-accomplished schools in the nation with and scores,” says Akin. “We are selling Owasso and using the public school system as a selling point, but really people want to come to Owasso schools so the school system in reality has to sell the city.”

In addition, Tulsa Tech’s Owasso campus will open for the fall 2013 school semester. This will open up residents to a new type of training. “We really see the opportunity to train students and adults in technical education,” he says. “Owasso will be far advanced by having a campus here.”

Owasso has seen a long list of new restaurants come to the area including second locations for both Braum’s and Taco Bueno. Freddy’s will soon be in the Smith Farm Center. Sam’s has been one of the most requested stores, and it will open next year.

“I am hearing more and more people say that they don’t have to leave Owasso for anything anymore,” Akin says. “That’s music to my ears. I like it to be an option, not a requirement, that people leave Owasso for retail or restaurants.”

In addition, The Patriot Golf Course has gained national recognition, and the Folds of Honor organization has its national headquarters located in Owasso.

“The suburbs are important to Tulsa’s success,” says Akin. “Owasso is a part of the body. It’s not the engine or the core, but when we do well, Tulsa does better.”

Akin expects to see continued residential and commercial development in 2013. In the meantime, Owassans have a lot to be proud of, he says.

Updated 12-03-2012

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