By K.J. WEBB
STRATEGIC THINKER: Josh Driskell looks ahead while planning for a positive future for Jenks and Riverfront South. The photo was taken at RiverWalk Crossing as two pedestrians stroll along the riverfront.
GTR Newspapers photo
Josh Driskell took the reigns as president of the Jenks Chamber of Commerce in December and says he plans to continue the work to make Jenks a point of destination for the region, beginning by increasing marketing efforts of Riverfront South.
The promotion of Riverfront South is an interesting concept for the Jenks Chamber, as the area encompasses not only Jenks entities, but also those on the east side of the river in Tulsa, beginning at the north with Oral Roberts University and including the Creek Nation Casino, Kings Landing, Riverside Market and other Riverside businesses. Riverfront South entities in Jenks include the Oklahoma Aquarium, the Historic Jenks Antique District, RiverWalk Crossing and others. The entire area is in the Jenks School District.
Driskell served as interim president of the Jenks Chamber beginning in October and director of communications before that. Driskell says, “Jenks is a community full of potential and promise. The growth of Jenks these past years is only the start of more development coming down the line in the future.”
Driskell has already impressed community leaders. Dave Fling, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, says, “Josh’s member interaction, organizational skills, marketing and business perspective and energy level are the assets needed to take the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to new heights.”
Before joining the chamber’s staff, Driskell was the editor of two community newspapers and has been involved in government at many levels, including serving as a Congressional aide. He is a graduate of Mannford High School and the University of Tulsa.
Driskell has been passionate about politics and civic duty for most of his life. He recalls being a ballot box monitor for his school’s 1988 presidential election vote. He was a Kindergartner at the time. “After that,” he says, “I remember being fascinated by the 1990 governor’s race here in Oklahoma and the dynamics of the 1992 presidential campaign.” Driskell says he grew more interested in the political process during high school. “I volunteered for a lot of campaigns in high school, from city council races to sheriff’s races to state house and senate campaigns.”
Driskell’s passion for politics has infused his life and resulted in some exceptional opportunities. Driskell says, “Prior to joining the Jenks Chamber, I worked in journalism, and was very involved in politics. After graduating from TU, I was hired by then Oklahoma House Speaker Todd Hiett to run his Tulsa office in the run-off campaign for Lt. Governor in 2006.” Following Hiett’s run-off victory, Driskell was asked to work on current State Representative for District 29 Skye McNeil’s campaign.
Driskell’s involvement in politics eventually led him to spending time in Washington, D.C. “I was hired in 2007 to be an aide for Congressman Frank Lucas. I enjoyed working for him and learned a lot while on his staff.” Driskell says Lucas’ district is one of the nation’s largest, covering a vast expanse of the state from the panhandle to the Tulsa County line and from Kansas to Texas.
When asked about misconceptions people have about politics in D.C., Driskell says, “There is a misconception, I think, that all elected officials are out for themselves, that they’re only in Washington to feather their own nests or to make deals for their donors. While that is sometimes the case, there are some really great people on Capitol Hill who are there out to genuinely serve their constituents, states and country.”
Speaking about his general impressions of D.C. Driskell says, “For a guy from rural Pawnee County, it was amazing to be in the Capitol, to stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the war memorials, and to think of all of the great leaders, the men and women through history who have shaped this great country, and the patriots who have defended it. It was a humbling experience.”
When asked what drew him to the Chamber of Commerce from the world of Washington politics, Driskell says, “While I’m grateful to have had the opportunities I’ve had politically both on a local and national level, I’m truly happy to be back in Oklahoma, serving the community on a local level here in Jenks.”
Something that drew Driskell to the Chamber world, he says, is his desire to help small businesses. “Small businesses need a strong advocate. I know a lot of small business owners in the community and they need someone who’s willing to work on their behalf.” He points to statistics provided by the Small Business Association that reveal small businesses employ half of all private sector employees. “Small businesses are an integral and vital part of our economy, and need as much support as possible.”
Driskell gravitated towards Jenks because, he says, “I like the idea that a community like Jenks can be bold, ambitious and can strive to do even better. I’ve said it many times before that Jenks is an idea that both a school and a community can be the best, and continually strive to set a higher benchmark. It’s admirable and I’m proud to be part of the process.”
Driskell’s primary goal for Jenks is to continue many of the things that have worked so well over the years. “We have a world-class school system and a dynamic community with a bright future and some terrific attractions.”
His specific goals for the Chamber are to continue to grow membership, to advocate for businesses, both legislatively as well as helping them network, and better market their products and services.
Regarding Jenks’ growth opportunities, Driskell says the biggest growth opportunity in Jenks is happening right now. “Village on Main, a mixed-use development, really promises to make Jenks not only a point of destination for the region, but it will also make Jenks something a little different from other communities,” he says.
Driskell’s commitment to Jenks is obvious, “I’m dedicated to Jenks. I’m dedicated to working to making this community better and stronger as we head into this next century. I’m grateful to be a part of the Jenks Chamber and community.”
Driskell replaces Annette Bowles, who served as chamber president for two years.
For more information about Jenks, visit www.jenkschamber.com.