I don’t believe that I’ve seen a town do so many quality of life projects in such a short period of time, as what I saw last week in Pryor, OK (population 8,659), one of the agurbs® that I chose for inclusion in BoomtownUSA. It is these quality of life enhancements that are going to be the key differentiators that will determine which towns will set themselves apart to bring in new residents, entrepreneurs and businesses. Pryor is doing just that!
“We are less than 50 miles away from over 2,500 miles of shoreline and located in the foothills of the Ozark Hills,” was how Barbara Hawkins, head of the Pryor Chamber started our tour. “We had a local resident who came back to take care of his mother, who redid the local theater, buying a neighboring building and turning it into a five-plex. As a result a new restaurant started up in the downtown area.”
But Barbara was only warming up in the downtown. She told me of Camp Dry Gulch, which brings in over 10,000 summer campers and has developed a Christmas theme park six miles north of town. We also visited Country Fever Fest’s (www.countryfeverfest.com) new 400 acre outdoor festival and camping grounds. They do an annual four-day country music festival, two two-day rodeos, a Christian music festival and plans for a rock festival in 2007. They are bringing in 12,000 per day for these events.
Our last stop was the brand new Pryor Creek Recreation Center, a 51,000 sf, $6 million facility funded overwhelmingly with a bond referendum by the citizens of Pryor. The facility includes a zero-degree entry fitness pool with lap lanes and diving board; weight room; full court gymnasium; indoor track; community area; and a Boys and Girls Club.
It was hard to believe that I’d seen all of this in a town of 8,600. As I drove out of town, I knew that I’d made a good choice in naming them an agurb®.