New bills spell bright future for industry in Blackwell ; rural communities

by Charles Gerian

Two bills that rethink the way Oklahoma approaches and executes economic development were signed into law earlier this month, changing the way that rural Oklahoma can benefit from business opportunities in the state.

SB 1447 creates two divisions within the Oklahoma Department of Commerce: one focused on

community development and the other on economic development. SB 1447 also creates a

legislative committee to review certain incentive packages for relocating or expanding


HB 3252 modifies the functions and programs of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to

ensure its focus is on economic development and community development.

A press conference was hosted by the State Chamber to celebrate the passing of these two bills.

In attendance was Blackwell Economic Development Authority & Industrial Authority Executive Director Charlene Flanery, the Chair of the Select Oklahoma organization.

Chad Warmington, State Chamber President and CEO, introduced Flanery stating:

“It’s important when looking at issues in the capital that you not only look at the urban impact, but the rural impact as well and how our small communities drive economic development,” he said.

“Charlene was a fantastic partner representing Select Oklahoma.”

Flanery spoke at the presser:

“I’m honored to be here,” said Charlene, “Select Oklahoma is the state’s professional economic development association. We have over 160 members across the State of Oklahoma representing rural, urban, suburban, and tribal interests.”

“In fact, the majority of our members are professionals within the field of economic development.”

“We leverage each other’s skills to market, retain, and attract business within the state,” she explained.

“I serve the rural community of Blackwell,” said Charlene, “so from a rural perspective there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to economic development.”

“We are all unique, all different, all with unique needs.”

Through the State’s Portal System, Flanery explained, over 52% of project wins came from rural communities.

The Portal System from the Department of Commerce gives communities access to projects coming to the State of Oklahoma.

Explaining further, Charlene told the Journal-Tribune that this was a huge win for Blackwell.

“This gives Blackwell additional chances and opportunities to seek funding, and to attract business. That is the basic goal of economic development, to improve the quality of life for out citizens and to raise their income.”

Flanery explained that the timing of this along with the historic expansion of the Blackwell Industrial Park couldn’t have been better.

“Senate Bill 1447 and House Bill 3252 are great extensions of the work we started last year with

modernizing the way that Oklahoma tackles workforce development. As you work on workforce

development, you cannot overlook economic development,” said Chad Warmington, president

and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma. “We are really excited to see these changes

implemented and see the benefits of a mission oriented, focused, and well-funded organization

that will lead economic development in the State of Oklahoma.”

“Senate Bill 1447, also known as The COMPETE Act, is groundbreaking legislation for

Oklahoma. It focuses on fostering innovation and supporting small businesses, using a targeted

approach to attracting new industries to our state,” said Sen. Kristen Thompson. “By providing a

systematic and strategic framework for economic growth and revitalization, we are laying a solid

foundation for entrepreneurship and economic dynamism, without any additional cost to


“Over the years, like most other organizations, the Department of Commerce has experienced

some mission creep. HB 3252 works in conjunction with SB 1447 to refocus the Department of

Commerce on what it was chartered to do... grow, develop, expand, nurture, and support the

Oklahoma economy and Oklahoma business,” said Rep. Mike Osburn.

“We must issue a big ‘thank you’ to Sen. Kristen Thompson and Rep. Mike Osburn for authoring

and shepherding these bills through the legislative process. The groups that put the real meat of

those proposals together were The Oklahoma City Chamber, Tulsa Chamber, Business

Roundtable, and Select Oklahoma. The State Chamber was proud to play a role in helping to

push and carry those bills forward through the legislature this session,” said Warmington.