The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma saw unprecedented growth and business success leading up to 2018. However, low educational attainment, aging infrastructure, and slow job growth continued to threaten many of the tribe’s surrounding communities in southeast Oklahoma. To channel the regional momentum and address specific challenges, the Choctaw Business and Economic Development Division embarked on a visionary economic development strategic planning process for the tribe and for the 11-county region that mostly closely aligned with tribal boundaries.
TIP Strategies was hired to conduct a regional economic development strategic plan for the tribe, individual plans for each county, and a target industry analysis for the region. Together, these plans equip the tribe and surrounding communities with the tools needed to create a stronger economic outlook for southeast Oklahoma. The strategy was developed to build upon the assets of the region and strengthen regional competitiveness with focused investments of time and resources. Assets included key urban centers, natural resources, educational institutions, and tourism attractions. The plan was organized around three programmatic goals: business formation, retention, and expansion; business attraction; and community capacity and assets. In addition to these goals, developing local leadership and creating partnerships was key to strengthening the region’s abilities to tackle complex problems.