“For over 10 years we have been in discussion with the owners of the property. Not unlike football, most often economic development is a series of running plays which net a few yards. Every now and then, when the correct players are on the field and the conditions are just right, you can throw a pass that leads to a score. I think we would all agree that most of the time we see more short gains, than touchdown bombs.” Tim Burg of the Ponca City, OK Development Authority (population 25,919) was talking about a recent big announcement of the donation of a research building and $2 million from ConocoPhillips.
The gift will establish a national sensor testing center that will be run by Oklahoma State University. The project, which will employ 80 scientists, engineers and support personnel with a payroll of $13.8 million, is projected to have a $120 million impact on the region over a ten year period of time.
Ponca City has impressed me with how they have redeveloped themselves from a town largely dependent upon Conoco Oil, which was headquartered there until it merged with Phillips Petroleum in 2002. Ponca City has learned that being a divisional town is a lot different and diversification is critical for their long term success as a community.
My visits there have impressed upon me how a town can utilize its resources. In this case it’s turning an abandoned corporate building into a new direction for the town and region. ED is a long term game and those that persevere in playing the game creatively and passionately will ultimately triumph. Ponca City is such a town and the new OSU Sensor Facility is a positive step for them.