Great Things are Happening in Broken Arrow

Greater Tulsa Economic Report By WES SMITHWICK
President, Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce


No longer a sleepy little bedroom community, Broken Arrow’s population now exceeds more than 108,000 people.

To put that into perspective, that’s five times the size of Jenks, four times the size of Bixby, and more than three times the size of Owasso. When you add the collective populations of Bixby, Jenks, Sand Springs, Sapulpa and Owasso, only then can you match that of Broken Arrow. Yet, even with such growth over the past several decades, Broken Arrow retains a small town feel and offers excellent public education opportunities as well as numerous housing options and a terrific quality of life.

So, how does a small suburb become a busy city of 100,000? Broken Arrow is reaping the benefits of a number of projects that were championed by our Chamber and city leaders and supported by our citizens. Without the foresight to push for the Broken Arrow Expressway many years ago, we would still be a small town. The Creek Turnpike South Loop also lends to our success by creating a high-quality transportation corridor that gives convenient access to the entire region. With more than 500 lane miles of city streets, B.A. residents and workers enjoy some of the finest city streets in the metro area. Our road infrastructure is the hidden jewel behind much of our growth.

A laser focus on primary job growth and continued facilitation of targeted economic growth throughout the city sets Broken Arrow apart from its neighboring communities. Already home to what is Oklahoma’s third largest cluster of manufacturers, we continue to see new jobs in the Aerospace and Energy sectors. In fact, in the past several years, advanced manufacturing jobs have grown by more than 2,000. Our highly technical jobs in aerospace and energy often pay in excess of $80,000 per year. This job growth is a testament to the hard work of our Economic Development Corporation () – a partnership between the Broken Arrow Chamber, the City of Broken Arrow and Broken Arrow Public Schools. The works to grow the local economy through job creation and other initiatives.

The Chamber’s motto is “We Make Great Happen.” Our members and staff work every day to provide resources to our members that will help them succeed. This year we will provide nearly 100 opportunities for members to learn new skills, network and promote their businesses. We also provide community activities and opportunities for development, a role we take very seriously. This means that we work to facilitate quality growth in Oklahoma’s fourth largest city.

The great things happening in our community today are a product of collaboration. We have learned how to work together for the common good of Broken Arrow and its citizens. The Chamber hosts annual leadership planning retreats where we bring together leaders from throughout our community and align our goals. We’ve made it our mission to get everyone in the same boat, rowing in the same direction, on the same river! Without a shared vision among our leaders and entities, we would not be able to get great things done.

Evidence of this “shared vision” approach can be seen all over the city. It started with the campus of Northeastern State University Broken Arrow 15 years ago and, most recently, with the creation of The Rose District. Three years ago, Main Street was dead. Very few people journeyed to what should be the heartbeat of the city. The Chamber rallied a delegation of leaders on a fact-finding trip to other cities to identify best practices and to, then, bring them home to implement. The Chamber and City officials worked tirelessly throughout 18 months of planning. The handled program management using sound business principles in marketing, advertising, promotion and business attraction. The Rose District is the perfect example of shared vision and shared ownership. That has been the key to its success.

Our community leaders understand the importance of teamwork. When opportunities present themselves, the Chamber, , city government and school district check their egos and then mobilize. You will continue to see that partnership as we work to grow our retail base with new and exciting developments. You will see it as we announce new, high-quality jobs and you will see it when the long-awaited Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center opens, and other hotels, restaurants and retailers plant roots in B.A.

The 10-year effort to bring a conference center to the city was finally completed because our Chamber pushed it…..our city leaders embraced it…..and citizens supported it. When it opens in late 2016, residents will be proud of what will become a state-of-the-art facility. It will be our new “beacon on the hill” and will serve as a reminder of what a community can become when all share a vision and work together. It is the perfect example of how “We Make Great Happen.”

Updated 09-19-2015

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