2021 Ambition: ERDA units targets for 2021, displays on 2020 | Progress

ENID, Okla. — Enid Regional Growth Alliance is setting new targets for 2021 after serving to companies all through the tumultuous yr that was 2020.

Lisa Powell, government director of ERDA, mentioned the highest aim for 2021 is working with the town of Enid to make sure the group is acknowledged as one of many best and most pleasant locations for enterprise improvement.

“Companies, whether or not they’re retail, restaurant or industrial, have multiple place that they’ll find and achieve success,” Powell mentioned. “They’ve multiple group that they’ll transfer to and do what it’s they need to do to generate profits, and so many instances the competitors and getting these issues to find in your group is that the method is simple, fast, pleasant — and clearly they’re on the lookout for the bottom price choice — but when you may make the event course of fast and pleasant, that saves them an unlimited quantity of price and will be extra useful to them than plenty of different issues they search for in a group.”

To do that, Powell mentioned step one is for ERDA to guage and perceive what the method is like from the consumer’s perspective, asking questions comparable to, “What’s ERDA at present doing? The place are the inefficiencies in that course of? Are there any duplicate steps in that course of? Can departments enhance communication between different departments to shorten timelines?”

Primarily, she mentioned, it’s determining the right way to make the method for brand new companies as fast and environment friendly as attainable.

She additionally mentioned ERDA will get suggestions from builders, builders and companies in the neighborhood which have and at present are utilizing the processes in place to allow them to inform ERDA about areas that may be improved.

“It’s very collaborative in that method as a result of, clearly, plenty of instances the consumer has a special expertise than the individual sitting on the opposite facet of the desk does, so we’re listening to them, as nicely.”

After understanding the method and figuring out issues ERDA can enhance on, it’s only a matter of implementing these adjustments, however Powell mentioned proper now ERDA nonetheless is making an attempt to grasp the present course of and see what adjustments will be made.

12 months of switching gears

Powell mentioned ERDA’s plan for 2020 was utterly upended when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Powell and her workforce of three needed to shift gears right into a extra grassroots strategy.

“We spent most of our time staying educated and up-to-speed on all of the funding applications that have been being rolled out, after which figuring out methods to relay that data in bite-sized, comprehensible items to our native companies and serving to them to entry these funds. That took the type of many new methods to attach with companies.”

ERDA’s essential aim is to extend the wealth and financial prosperity of Enid, and to do this in a pandemic, it pivoted its strategy to serving to companies.

Powell mentioned ERDA held weekly Zoom requires small companies on numerous subjects, together with the right way to convert to a digital advertising platform on-line and the right way to entry loans and applications.

“What we’ve spent many of the yr doing is making an attempt to remain in contact with our companies regionally, how COVID-19 impacted them and connecting them to sources to assist get them by means of it,” Powell mentioned.

Not every little thing was solely modified, although. On Feb. 28, 2020, ERDA had a “2020 Imaginative and prescient” session, pulling 60 group leaders — who have been ERDA enterprise members — to debate what their visions for Enid over the subsequent couple of a long time have been and the way they wished to Enid develop or change over that point.

Powell mentioned ERDA took these concepts and fashioned committees round them and commenced growing motion objects and defining steps towards these targets, together with trade retention and recruitment, retail retention and recruitment, workforce schooling and coaching, downtown improvement and high quality of life and tourism initiatives.

The committees have been working individually over the course of the yr, and the subsequent annual replace session for that might be Feb. 26.

“This might be bringing all of the committees again collectively, and skim out to at least one one other on a few of the work they’re doing as a result of a lot of their work overlaps with each other,” Powell mentioned. “For example, trade retention and recruitment additionally means it’s a must to have high quality of life … It’ll be a great time for these committees to share the priorities that every of them have set and the place they’re in that work, and that work will proceed for this yr and a few years to come back.”

Powell mentioned 2020 would have been the yr for lots of ERDA’s plans to take off, however as a result of pandemic plenty of these plans needed to be placed on maintain or restarted utterly.

She mentioned areas comparable to well being care, schooling, retail, eating places and actual property gained’t be delivered the identical method as a consequence of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has modified every little thing. Nothing will ever be accomplished the identical method,” Powell mentioned. “What our plans have been a yr in the past for the right way to help enterprise progress, they don’t overlay with what’s going to occur sooner or later for enterprise progress … A variety of our time this yr goes to be making an attempt to grasp how issues have modified and what issues are going to return to the way in which they have been and what issues aren’t.”

How ERDA helps carry enterprise

A number of the issues ERDA does to assist carry new companies to city is assembly with new companies to get a greater understanding of what they do and what they must be profitable, whether or not it’s a location on the truck route or a 10,000-square-foot constructing.

Relying on the trade, some companies might need to fill out functions, and ERDA can assist facilitate these introductions and functions.

ERDA helps not solely companies but in addition entrepreneurs.

“This extends out of your single entrepreneur who has a — what we wish to say — has a harebrained thought and is making an attempt to determine the right way to make it occur,” Powell mentioned, “to an organization that employs 500 employees that makes $70,000 a yr.”

Many of the corporations in Enid have been based by entrepreneurs, together with Tyson, Northcutt, Jumbo Meals and Safety Nationwide Financial institution, Powell mentioned.

ERDA helps join companies with needed sources and gives them with data. One of many issues most companies will not be conscious of is that there are federal, state and native sources which might be paid for with tax {dollars} which might be free to them to assist their enterprise.

“Whether or not that’s an entrepreneur who must know the right way to write a advertising plan or put monetary statements collectively or professional forma or marketing strategy, there are workers right here on this incubator, by Autry Know-how Heart, that can maintain their hand by means of that course of, and it doesn’t price them something,” Powell mentioned.

The grant course of

ERDA at present has “distinctive” grants obtainable, Powell mentioned. ERDA is utilizing CARES Act cash to handle financial points due to the pandemic, and ERDA has allotted $400,000 of that funding to help small companies that noticed a drop in income through the 2019-20 yr.

ERDA took functions by means of Jan. 29 for small companies with as much as 25 staff and functions by means of Feb. 12 for single entrepreneurs so they may request as much as $15,000 in funding to cowl mounted prices or apply for cash to assist cowl losses seen in income final yr.

Different grants ERDA has obtainable embrace a micro-enterprise grant that’s obtainable yearly, an ongoing sprinkler grant program for downtown, a Develop Enid mortgage program and a Begin With Enid program that’s obtainable for brand new companies.

One of many issues ERDA at present has ongoing is an $800,000 grant the Financial Growth Administration awarded to the Garfield County Industrial Park.

Ceilings for progress

Powell mentioned in Enid, like in most locations in america over the previous 10 years, there’s a abilities hole between what persons are expert at and what the labor drive is demanding, and there’s not sufficient individuals to fill the roles that exist.

One option to fight that is to get schooling and trade teams to speak in order that persons are educated to fill these current jobs.

Enid has not only one hospital however two: St. Mary’s Regional Well being Heart and Integris Bass Baptist Well being Heart. That robust well being care system is one high quality of life part employers search for in a group, Powell mentioned.

“(Enid is) a medical hub for Northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas, and that brings lots of people into city,” Powell mentioned. “Well being care is our largest employment sector, not simply due to our hospitals however due to all of our specialty care, nursing facilities, and in order that’s a key sector of the group that we work with ongoing to make sure that they’re joyful, wholesome and rising.”

One other key sector employers search for in communities is schooling. Powell mentioned Enid has invested some huge cash in Enid and space faculties to improve amenities and expertise, which supplies Enid a leg up on competitors.

Powell mentioned Enid is at a singular place within the nation — being positioned on the plains and alongside two railroad traces; boasting robust, renewable vitality corporations, pure fuel pipelines, grains and different agricultural merchandise grown within the area; and having a powerful freeway infrastructure, to call a couple of.

“All of these issues make us naturally engaging for companies to find right here,” she mentioned. “I count on we’ll proceed to develop within the areas that we’re robust in, however I additionally count on that we’ll proceed to diversify slightly bit as issues change … We’re positioned for progress.”

General, Powell mentioned ERDA helps join the companies with the town of Enid, and he or she hopes to assist make Enid a supportive and inspiring space for enterprise progress so new companies have a neater time finding to the realm and rising in the neighborhood.

“We’re actually extra within the function of eradicating limitations for enterprise progress right here in the neighborhood, as a result of these companies are those that create these jobs,” she mentioned. “So long as we’re doing that, companies ought to proceed to thrive right here.”

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