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Jackson County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

About the Team

Economic Development Team

Special Thanks to these individuals from Mrs. Glenna Lunday's Economic II Class for collecting data pertinent to this website:

Altus: Brent McKnight & Micha Adams; Blair & Friendship : Tyler Phillips & Trevor English; Duke: Corey T. Goodwin & John Sonnenberg; Eldorado: Macie Craven & Todd Kulczycki; Elmer/Hess/Humphrey: Fabian Reyes & Miranda Billye


This Jackson County project is a program to enhance both the knowledge and interaction in the areas of community and economic development. One of our most important goals is to form and train Economic Development Teams in each community in Jackson County and from these groups form a County-Wide Economic Development Team. The County Team could then offer broad based perspective for both community and county Economic Development projects and issues.

We initially asked for representatives from the 12 communities in Jackson County to come together and decide if they were interested in pursuing the IFRO opportunity. The answer was a resounding yes. From that initial group we defmed our project to submit and then waited for the results of the evaluation committee. Once we were chosen for a 1 year program we then held community meetings and asked each community to select 2-3 individuals to participate in this training. The idea of training and efforts in the area of rural economic development was met with excitement and enthusiasm. We were met with broad participation from all of the communities in Jackson County. As-the-E this County I Was excited to see the of interest and initial commitment to the program effort.

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1. Creation of Economic Development Leadership Knowledge Base among participating communities. (Activities) Three training conferences covering Economic Development were held during the coarse of the conference schedule.
2. Establishment of sustainable county and community Economic Development Teams. (Activity) Individual community meetings were held for communities to select members to participate in this training. From this both community and county teams were developed.
3. Development of a Resource Guide of Economic Development Support Materials. (Activity) A three ring binder was put together covering the entire training conference materials. Each community participant was supplied with a binder.
4. Stimulate the current level of Economic and Community related activities, while ensuring broad based support and cohesion among those activities. (Activity) During the coarse of the training conference community participants were asked to participate together in identifying primary county community projects and goals.
5. Establish a S.W.O.T. analysis picture for both the participating communities and the county as a whole. (Activity) S.W.O.T. Analysis were given to the participants at both the community and county levels.
6. Engage a large portion of the Jackson County citizenry in Community and Economic Development related workshops, seminars, training opportunities, etc. (Activities) Twenty seven individuals representing all 12 communities in Jackson County were engaged in our ED Training Conference.
7. Formation of a 2-3 person Economic Development Community Leadership Team. (Activity) This was done through the initial community meetings when the project was introduced to the communities.
8. formation of a 10-12 person county-wide Economic Development Leadership Team. (Activity) This was accomplished from the last training session on through the summer as the community teams nominated one member to sit on the county-wide team.
9. Host 8 Training Sessions related to community and economic development. (Activity) This was accomplished from the first of February through the end of May.
10. Survey community participants to assess current level of community and economic development involvement and leadership activities. (Activity) This was done during the first conference training session with the results published in AE-03024.

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1. We started in June 02 with our original community planning group. This is where we invited an individual from each community to ascertain both interest and ideas toward the IFRO project. This group met weekly at first developing our initial proposals. Then we moved to bi-weekly and finally monthly until we began the program of community meetings. These planning, vision sharing, and goal setting meetings were the foundation of putting together a successful proposal. Our partnerships with Southwest Technology Center (SWTC) and Western Oklahoma State College (WOSC) began at this time.

2. Our next effort involved meeting with each community and outlining the program goals, agenda, training conference, and request for their participation. This was a busy schedule but became a highlight in the project in terms of meeting the communities and interacting with many fine folks. This was very much a "vision casting" time in the projects development. This covered a period of 10 weeks through October and December. This activity was conducted by Jackson County Extension Stqff and SWTC Personnel.

3. Our participants began the Conference training schedule in February 03 with an Opening Leadership Retreat at Quartz Mountain Conference Center and State Park This event was attended by 26 of the 27 individuals signed up to participate in the training. The event featured personnel from OCES, SWTC WOSC, Leadership Oklahoma, Museum of the Western Prairie, and Upward Bound giving instruction to the participants. Topics covered included Leadership Skills, History of Jackson County,
Team Building, Communication Skills, Personality Tests (True Colors), Conflict Negotiation, Dealing With and Negotiating Change, and Economic Trend Analysis. The event began on a Friday evening and concluded on Saturday afternoon. While busy and intense this was probably one of the favorite sessions during the program. The leadership and team building aspects of this meeting were both useful and fun. Several aspects of dealing with change, presented by Dr. Sanders, became a cornerstone of thought for our participants as they considered the county's future. As always, the personality tests were interactive and humorous. People were both surprised and tickled at the outcomes. This was indeed a great first step.

4. The second conference training session was held at the end of February. This session along with the two in March spec addressed Economic Development. Attendance was again high for these sessions. Personnelfrom SWTC, OCES, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Duncan Area Development Group, Oklahoma Department of Tourism, and Quartz Mountain conducted these sessions. Topics addressed included Concepts and Terms, What to Expect in ED, Community Development, S. W. 0. T Analysis, Business Retention and Expansion, Inquiry Response and Generation, Site Ident and Development, Economic Development Tool Kit, Visiting OKC Capital Legislative Sessions and County Legislative Delegation, Tourism and ED, Tourism Development, and Tourism and Quartz Mountain. These were extremely instructive and eye-opening sessions. All of the instructors received "high marks "for their efforts. The Capital Trip was a highlight. We had great interaction with our legislators as well as being hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for our afternoon training session. Mr. Jim Burratti from Oklahoma Today was one of our guest speakers. These three sessions were also referred to by many as the "Key to the Conference Training Program ". They felt as though they received the most benefit in terms of Economic Development in these sessions. This, of course, was our goal!

5. Our next two sessions covered community resources and were held in April. Personnel from OSU, SWTC, WOSC, Southwest Community Action Inc., Southwest Transit, Department of Human Services, Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Altus Municipal Airport, SWODA, and a private community business entrepreneur from Clarity Ok, Mr. Winn Rice, who runs a travel and tour business into Panama presented these two sessions. Topics covered included Health, Educational, and Transportation Resources, Entrepreneurial Business Development, Capital Improvement Projects, and a Mini Resource Fair. These sessions were utilized to familiarize participants with some of the local resources and show them how to begin looking for those resources.

6. The sixth session was held on a Saturday at the first of May and was devoted primarily to Grant Writing However, we did start the first session out with Asset Mapping. OSU personnel presented these programs. This session was considered by several to be one of the top conference presentations due to its usefulness. Especially by participants who were county government leaders. Greer County project participants also attended this session with us. Gary Strickland presented the Asset Mapping program which was both instruction by lecture then interactive between communities. Dr. Jerry Jordan, OSU, led us through a live internet grant search, developing a prospectus, and helping us develop an outline for our future grant project. The live internet search was extremely well received. During this sixth session we began the process, linking it with the grant writing portion of the program, of identifying our future grant project priorities. Communities begin listing and projects both locally and county wide that were their top priorities. The list was limited to five projects. This was a time in which you could see the wheels turning in many participants as they both looked at practical, achievable goals but also dreamed a bit and started putting the practical steps into achieving those dreams.

7. The final conference session, held at the end of May, addressed Planning and Goal Setting. This was conducted by OSU and WOSC personnel. Topics covered included Planning and Goal Setting, presented by Dr. Mike Woods, and Conducting Effective Meetings, Effective Time Management, and Group Decision Making Skills, presented by Ms. Lisa Greenlee. Both of these sessions were very needed, practical, and useful to the group. We then were put to the test on what we had learned in this session as the group, led by Gary Strickland and Lisa Greenlee, identified there top five County Projects they wanted to work on. This was a highly interactive time and enjoyed by all. The discussion and voting process was fun both to watch and participate in. The top three choices in Jackson County were as follows. I) Development of a County Economic Development Coordinator Position 2) (Actually Tied with 1) Improvement of the Jackson County Expo Center 3) Improvement of the Jackson County Water Co. which currently has a 27% annual water loss. Some of the other projects mentioned included developing community family playgrounds for those that do not have one and the development of a county-wide festival system to increase tourism. This meeting was also when we initiated selection of members from each community to sit on the County-wide Economic Development Team.

With the exception of our opening retreat and the Grant Writing Conference all sessions were conducted in the evening in two and one half hour time periods. They were held at either WOSC or SWTC conference rooms. Participants were .fed nice meals at each event. This was considered important to help those attended since they were giving of their time to be with us and were entering a volunteer status within both their communities and the county to help in this endeavor. From notes on the final evaluations the IFRO project in Jackson County was met with very positive reviews.

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What's Next?

We have began meeting as a County-Wide Economic Development Team. We are currently working through the relational aspects of working with county government and when we receive grant money how that will be handled. We (OSU, SWTC, and WOSC) are currently planning educational times for each year on the topics of Economic and Community Development to further train community individuals who can step in and replace those that may need to step out of team responsibilities after a 1 year minimum commitment. Therefore we are looking to the future for long term commitment to this project. Again,forme as the Educator, this is one of the more important goals that we have achieved and are in the process of achieving.

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Final Products

The final products associated with or produced with our project include:

1) Hosting a County-Wide 8 Session Community and Economic Development Training Conference in which all 12 communities in the County were involved.
2) Enhancing community interaction and knowledge of Economic Development
3) Two or three individuals in each community trained in Economic and Community Development.
4) The Development of a County-wide Economic Development Team.
5) The Development of a Economic Development Resource Guide (You already have a copy of this)
6) A pictorial archive of our program.
7) Completion of 3 surveys, with two more in the fmal stages of completion (Whats Good
About Your Community, Evaluation of Local Involvement and Leadership in Jackson
County, County S.W.O.T. Analysis, (Two that are in the process of being completed)
Managing Change For Communities in Transition, and a Conference Closing Evaluation)
8) Economic Trends Analysis for Jackson County and an Origins Report.

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IFRO II Project Information

In 2004, Jackson County was awarded another IFRO (INITIATIVE FOR THE FUTURE OF RURAL OKLAHOMA) grant. The title of the proposal was: Building Jackson County’s Community and Economic Development Web-Site. Extension Educator Gary Strickland and Team Members: Sid Willis, Altus; Dawn Hayes, Blair; Margaret Taylor, Carrie Adkins Duke; Rhonda Stevens, Eldorado; Gary Stevens, Elmer/Hess/Humphreys; Joe Levelle, Friendship; Jim and Mary Hill, Headrick; Lisa Drury, Olustee, Gene Davis, Warren were all involved in this project.

To date there is not a collective county-wide presentation of communities and their potential for interested parties to consult. This proposal would address such a need by developing both a web-site address and hard-copy presentation for interested parties. By utilizing work that was done in the previous project and our existing partnerships with both WOSC and Southwest Technology Center (SWTC) this project proposal can move this county-wide community and economic development effort forward into its next evolutionary step; an established entity within the county community. The county-wide team is also pursuing a 50 1(c) 3 status and is forming a relationship with an existing county trust (County Public Finance Authority) to be able and pursue grant money in either format. This Web-Site would further solidify their legitimacy in presentation for grant dollars.

The objective of this proposal is linked.very closely to our initial leadership training proposal as we continue to strive toward the stabilization and growth of county communities as a whole. The following is a list of measurable goals and objectives:

• Development of a County Community and Economic Development Web-Site that will serve as a comprehensive county wide resource site.

• Development of a County Community and Economic Development Publication

• Develop the Community Web-Site functional ability either through training, technical assistance, or purchase of community computer for such purpose (with the understanding that a community would be responsible for monetary charges associated with the cost of an internet host)

• Develop with partners ongoing training related to Web-Site maintenance and Community and Economic Development

Representatives from each community already comprise the County-Wide Economic Development Team and would be asked to participate (and already havee participated) in this project effort. A project intern will also be hired to assist in building the web-site, working with the county economic development team members, and entering community information. This intern will receive instruction from WOSC computer personnel and be supervised by the on-site Extension Educator. At present at least 3-5 educational training sessions related to both Web- Site Development and Continued Community and Economic Development are anticipated to be conducted by SWTC.

The project timeline will require one year for the development and implementation of the continued leadership project. The first two or three months will be devoted to web-site modeling and design. The next six to eight months will be devoted to building the web-site, entering community information, training in web-site maintenance, and assisting communities who desire information in establishing either their own web-site or how to make changes in their communities information. The last two months will be utilized to trial run the web-site, work out any remaining problem areas, and set up an ongoing educational training effort with our partnering groups in the emphasis areas.

Long term commitment to this process was addressed in our previous project through the formation of community and county economic development teams and remains to present. We a are currently involved in once or bi-monthly team meetings. The development of a county web site, hard-copy resource, and ongoing community and economic development training for new interested individuals will continue to solidify a community’s long term involvement in this process.

Program evaluation will utilize surveys and project accomplishment indicators such as web-site development and county community hard-copy publication. OSU Extension, WOSC, and SWTC will share in evaluation responsibilities.

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