The economy of central Oklahoma has long been defined by oil and gas. The vulnerability associated with overdependence on this sector has not been lost on the region’s civic leaders. Diversified investment generated through Oklahoma City’s much-lauded MAPS initiative has resulted in new projects and a renewed sense of optimism. It is now possible—perhaps for the first time in the area’s history—to define the regional economy beyond the petrochemical industry. Despite its success in transitioning to a more diversified economy, the region faces challenges that include intense competition for skilled workers, a lack of regional cohesiveness, and uneven development outside of the main population centers.
To address the need for a unified and collaborative approach to these challenges, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) engaged TIP to prepare a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). The primary objective, identified and agreed upon by the CEDS Advisory Committee, was to identify strategies that would ensure the region’s competitiveness at the national level. Improving connectivity within the four-county ACOG region, which includes Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan Counties, was the guiding vision for the work. This theme of connectivity was addressed across three broad goals: enhancing the region’s infrastructure; building a resilient economy; and strengthening the region’s startup, entrepreneurship, and business innovation ecosystem. TIP also prepared ACOG’s prior CEDS, published in 2012, which established the organization as the economic development district for the region (Capital Area Economic Development District of Oklahoma).