Stillwater needs an economic development group to present a unified front while recruiting companies to locate here, Chamber of Commerce directors have been told.

Dr. Joseph W. Alexander, chamber chairman, outlined his plan to form the Stillwater Economic Development Council in early January.

It would include representatives from the city, Chamber of Commerce, Stillwater Industrial Foundation, OSU Center for Innovation and Economic Development and Meridian Technology Center.

Alexander made known his idea in a letter dated Oct. 29 to Mayor Roger McMillian, but since the chamber directors did not meet in October, the letter was offered to chamber directors at their November meeting on Thursday.

Alexander said he serves on several boards that have the goal of enhancing Stillwater’s economy but he said he believes they do not seem to have a full view of the resources individual entities can contribute to a prospective business or industries.

He said his OSU CIED office recently received a phone call from a company that is interested in Stillwater but needs 40 acres and some water requirements. The matter was referred to city manager Dan Galloway, the chamber and to Ken Alexander of the SIF.

Though there are several groups promoting Stillwater to prospective clients, Alexander said “there are times when we don’t know what we have to offer.”

He suggested the formation of a standing group of people that would meet on a regular basis and deal with opportunities like the one presented to the OSU CIED last week. He said, “it seems we piecemeal things at times. We need to have a more unified group, and not leave things out.”

He said the OSU CIED recently pledged $45,000 to the economic development efforts of the chamber. In his letter to the mayor, he said the city and the chamber, through Forward Stillwater, provided funds for economic development while OSU, MTC, Northern Oklahoma College and others are keys to workforce development.

Alexander said “we need to come together and familiarize ourselves with the programs that everyone has, and have the chamber screen these prospects and see who is real, and who wants to look at Stillwater,” adding that group could move forward.

He suggested the group’s chair be determined on a rotating basis among the represented entities. He said the group would meet monthly, and in special meetings, to prepare and present a coordinated incentive package to prospective businesses who are considering Stillwater and Payne County.

In his letter, Alexander said new leads would come through the chamber or OSU CIED where they would be evaluated for their potential and selected ones would be presented to the entire group. “I believe that together we can present a united front, offer attractive deals and recruit successful companies to this wonderful area.”

Alexander told directors it is essential the vacant economic development specialist position be filled as soon as possible. The post has been vacant since last summer.

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