2021 May POINT!


May 2021

Several thousand college sports fans will be descending on Oklahoma City in May and June for the much-anticipated return of three popular athletic events that together have a huge economic impact for the Oklahoma City metro. Restart of Big 12 softball, baseball tourneys and WCWS is a grand slam for OKC




22|OKC retail market poised for rebound 14|OKC’s warehouse and distribution sector thriving 10|Commuter rail one step closer following bill passage

Restart of Big 12 softball, baseball tourneys and WCWS is a grand slam for OKC

S everal thousand college sports fans will be descending on Oklahoma City in May and June for the much-anticipated return of three popular athletic events that together have a huge economic impact for the Oklahoma City metro. The Phillips 66 Big 12 softball and baseball championships will be played during the month of May, with the softball championship held at the USA Hall of Fame Stadium Complex, May 14-15, and the baseball championship, May 26-30, inside the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Then from June 3-9, the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) makes its return visit to Oklahoma City and the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex. All three events were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in 2019, officials were forced to cancel all Saturday day games during the Big 12 softball tournament due to severe thunderstorms that rolled into the city. So, in essence, a full schedule of games has not been played in Oklahoma City since 2018.

“Even though we are going to be at 25% capacity, or maybe even 50%, we are still going to see a large amount of people come into town for the WCWS,” Hollenbeck said. “It has so many ripples that come from it, and so when you lose a big event like that as we did in 2020, it is a huge deal. Not having the WCWS last year was a big loss financially for the city,” she said. Hollenbeck noted that, lumped together, the Big 12 softball and baseball championships and WCWS conservatively add about $26 million to the Oklahoma City economy. The WCWS is by far the largest contributor at $24 million when at full capacity. Softball fans are some of the best fans in the world, according to Hollenbeck. Approximately 70% of all tickets sold to the 2019 WCWS were to people out of state, she said. “They are the best tourists. So many of them stay in hotels downtown because they are familiar with that area and it is so walkable and easy to get around. They eat out and visit many of the attractions around the city and are always looking to explore and visit new attractions,” Hollenbeck said.

This will be the final year for the Big 12 Baseball Championships in Oklahoma City as it moves south of the Red River to Arlington, Texas, where it will have a three-year run inside the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark. The WCWS will remain in Oklahoma City, however, at least through 2035, which will allow for even more people, including returning visitors and first-time visitors, a chance to experience all of what Oklahoma City has to offer. “We have shown consistently that we do an excellent job, and we have the people who want to support it and the community that wants to support it. We are very blessed with the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the USA Softball Hall of Fame park. We have some excellent venues that we work with and we have a tradition of putting on really good events,” Hollenbeck said. To purchase tickets for the Big 12 softball or baseball championships, visit the Big 12 at Big12sports.com. WCWS tickets can be purchased by visiting NCAA.org or going through the NCAA Ticket Exchange.

The likelihood of more inclement weather in 2021 is a distinct possibility. That does not bother Sue Hollenbeck, however, who is the director of sports business at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. She said with the recent renovations to the softball complex, including a new upper deck, locker rooms and drainage system, the threat of cancellations has been greatly diminished. “Even if we do get rain this year, the new drainage system is so incredible that even if they did not get the tarp on the playing surface, it will still drain very quickly. If we had to postpone games for an hour or two, we could still play games on the main field,” Hollenbeck said. Although COVID-19 numbers are down in the state and the venues are outside, Hollenbeck said fans can expect attendance for the Big 12 softball and baseball championships to be at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing required. Capacity for the WCWS now stands at 25%; however, capacity could increase depending on future COVID numbers.

We believe in bucket lists.


Leadership Notes

Designated Cancer Center

Criminal justice reform requires patience, perseverance O klahoma County’s journey of criminal justice reform began in late 2015 when the Chamber convened a task force to dig deep into our system to better understand where reform was possible and ultimately make significant strides in improving our county’s jail and detention center. We have undoubtedly changed the system for the better and set the stage for continued transformation. The number of people being held has dropped from an average of more than 2,500 a day to 1,600 and falling. That drop has given the county room to make changes in operation, and in improving the facility. Last year we made another leap forward with the establishment of the jail trust. Why was this so important? With the jail trust, the county was able to create greater transparency around jail operations. The decisions being made about the jail are now based on data and made in an open meeting. Is there more scrutiny? Yes – but that is exactly what is necessary. The professional corrections managers tasked by the trust inherited years of mismanagement borne out of an overcrowded and dysfunctional system. Through the Criminal Justice Advisory Council, and now the Jail Trust, our community is more engaged and aware of how the system is operating and has more input into the changes we want to reflect our community’s values. Calls to reverse this progress and return the management of the jail to the sheriff’s office will only slow the progress and put a cloak over the problems that exist. We need to keep working together to solve these problems out in the open – it is what our citizens deserve.

Roy H. Williams, CCE President & CEO

Susan Laurence, Uterine Cancer Survivor OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center


Stephenson Cancer Center – a place for transformational care. When Susan Laurence learned she had an aggressive form of uterine cancer, her fear turned to hope after she arrived at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center. A multidisciplinary team of doctors partnered with her during treatment, including a Phase 1 clinical trial that allows her to live life to its fullest. As Oklahoma’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, Stephenson Cancer Center provides each pa- tient the most advanced options, while conducting research that will revolutionize the treatments of tomorrow. The future of health is here.


Roy H. Williams, CCE Chamber CEO & President

OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center 800 NE 10th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73104

To make an appointment or for more information, call (405) 271-1112 or visit us online at StephensonCancerCenter.org



We have a great panel lined up for what promises to be an informative discussion Friday, May 7, at 11:45 a.m. during the Chamber’s free virtual Enlighten event. Panelists will share best practices as well as tips on how to safely reopen businesses while dealing with COVID-19 concerns. Lessons learned after more than a year of living with the virus will also be discussed. In addition, panelists will discuss the American Rescue Plan and how it may benefit businesses. Join us for both the practical information and great virtual networking Enlighten is known for. Speakers Vic Albert , Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC Barb Denny, CFO and Vice President of Operations, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber John Veal, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration - Oklahoma District Office Bev Wood, PHR, SHRM-CP, Vice President of Business Continuity and Crisis Management, American Fidelity Assurance Company Schedule 11:45 a.m. to Noon - Small group networking (We’ll randomly place all attendees into small groups for networking before the program kicks off at noon. Think of it as your virtual “table!” Come prepared to meet new faces or reconnect with familiar ones. Video is highly encouraged.) Noon - Program starts For more information or to register, visit okcchamber. com/enlighten. Enlighten virtual events are free and available to both chamber members and nonmembers. Special thanks to Series Presenting Sponsor Cox Business. Get tips for safe reopening at Enlighten May 7

Biotech entrepreneurship, health care industry topics at virtual State of Health event May 12

(Events are subject to change. Consult okcchamber.com/events for the most recent updates.) May 7 Enlighten 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/enlighten May 12 State of Health 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/ statehealth May 19 Chamber Forum 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/ mayforum May 20 MegaLunch 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/ megalunch June 4 Enlighten 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. okchamber.com/enlighten2 June 16 Chamber Forum 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/juneforum July 21 Chamber Forum 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. okcchamber.com/julyforum

Join us virtually for the Chamber’s annual State of Health event Wednesday, May 12, at 11:30 a.m. to hear two informative panel discussions featuring metro health care leaders on health and wellness trends, as well as entrepreneurs and researchers working to grow our biotech sector. Keynote speaker Robin Farmanfarmaian will discuss where some of the shifts are happening in health care delivery, patient experience, and health care consumer spending power and trends, and how this disruption provides opportunities for growing the health care industry in Oklahoma City. Farmanfarmaian is a professional speaker and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, who has been involved with more than 20 early-stage startups working on cutting-edge technology in health care, biotech, pharma, medical devices and digital health. Hospital Leadership Panelists Jim Gebhart, President, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City Joe Hodges , Regional President, SSM Health Oklahoma Timothy Pehrson , President and CEO, INTEGRIS Health Chuck Spicer , President and CEO, OU Medicine, Inc.

meet many new prospects and get lots of practice at that elevator speech (call it the “digital discourse”). All that for $15 -- and you don’t have to worry about spilling your iced tea on a potential new client! Learn more at okcchamber.com/megalunch. MegaLunch Thursday, May 20: Bioscience Panelists Paul DeAngelis, Ph.D. , Presidential Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Christian Kanady , CEO, Echo Investment Capital, LLC Dr. Jesse McCool, Founder and CEO, Wheeler Labs Dr. Rodger McEver , Vice President of Research, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Individual tickets are $25 for Chamber members and $40 for nonmembers. Sponsor ticket packages are also available online. Visit okchamber.com/statehealth to learn more. Special thanks to Presenting Sponsor MidFirst Bank and Host Sponsor OU Health. Health state of

Make a date for May 20: Meet many with MegaLunch Looking for a fun and unique way to make business connections? Even virtually, MegaLunch gives Chamber members the opportunity to expand their networks and pitch their company’s products and services in a 90-second “speed networking” format.

MegaLunch has always been one of the most popular Chamber networking events, and that remains true in a virtual format. Instead of tables, a computerized rotation schedule and Zoom breakout rooms will ensure you will

11:30 a.m . – Welcome & instructions 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Breakout rotations

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The Feb. 25, 1920 edition of “Oklahoma,” the Chamber’s early newsletter, had stories on railroad legislation, the Chamber’s fundraising for road construction, an upcoming “trade excursion” trip to promote “O.C.” businesses and more.

‘Point’ newsletter to become ‘VeloCity’ Chamber newsletter will enjoy new name, format

J ust after the Land Run in 1889, the Chamber (then called The Board of Trade) was organized to promote the community; advocate for rail connectivity and transportation infrastructure; implement public utilities such as electricity, water, gas and others; and bring new industry to OKC. By at least 1907, the Chamber began publishing a regular newsletter, simply called “OKLAHOMA,” to keep members informed about issues pertinent to growing Oklahoma City’s economy and increasing our quality of life. In 1989, the city’s centennial year, the publication’s title changed to “OKC Action.” Concurrent with a move to the present Chamber offices at 123 Park Avenue, in 1994 the newsletter became “The POINT!,” in reference to a then-new Chamber logo which featured an exclamation point in place of the “l” in “Oklahoma” and a corresponding large green exclamation point sculpture that was located in front of the Chamber building in the pre-Project 180 days.

Meanwhile, VeloCityOKC. com was launched in July 2018 as a new Chamber digital news and advocacy vehicle, which features fresh stories and content for our members, as well as OKC residents in general, every business day. In an effort to simplify and better align our communications offerings, The POINT! will become VeloCity in July of this year. Look for a new fresh design and visual style that connects these platforms. Before being adopted for the website, you may remember VeloCity’s first incarnation as “the digital magazine of Oklahoma City.” Now the brand will come full circle and bring together the Chamber’s main print and digital communications vehicles. OKLAHOMA – circa 1907 – 1988

100 years ago - May 11, 1921. The cover story was on a charity drive toward an $85,000 goal for “The United Charities.”

The May 4, 1989 edition of “OKC Action” celebrated the Chamber’s 100th birthday. An explanation of the function of the Chamber found in a newsletter from July 7, 1920.

OKC Action – 1989 – 1993 The Point! – 1994 – Present VeloCity – coming July 2021

The July 7, 1920 edition of “Oklahoma” featured a masthead featuring a “Do it for Oklahoma City” slogan and an inset on the importance of the Chamber.

The Sept. 15, 1994 edition of “The POINT!” contained information about the sidewalk sculpture outside the then-new Chamber offices at 123 Park Ave., and our then-new logo.

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C ommuter rail service in the Oklahoma City metro is one step closer to becoming reality following passage of Chamber-supported legislation that grants limited tort liability protections for any future commercial operator of the rail line. The measure, Senate Bill 967, was recently signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and will become law on Nov. 1, 2021. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber played a pivotal role in helping pass SB 967, which was a critical piece to any realistic hopes of introducing future commuter rail service in the Oklahoma City region. SB 967 was authored by Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond) and Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond). “It was a great win and great team work to get SB 967 approved 89-1 in the House and 45-0 in the Senate. There were a lot of people who pitched in to

Future of rapid transit in OKC metro one step closer following bill passage

get this bill passed,” said Derek Sparks, senior manager for government relations at the Chamber. He noted the contributions of Sen. Pugh and Rep. Martinez, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) board members, including its chairman, former Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry; Scott Martin, president and CEO for the Norman Chamber of Commerce; Mike Patterson, former state secretary of transportation; and others. “It all came together wonderfully, and the Chamber was honored to be part of the process,” Sparks said. Henry echoed Sparks’ comments. “This is a huge step forward because if we did not get this legislation passed, it is a pretty big roadblock for us to overcome. And the way this legislation was passed with the full support of the Legislature, it will be very impressive to BNSF Railway during our future negotiations,” Henry added.

During their April 21 meeting, the RTA unanimously approved the Transit System Plan that will serve as the guiding document for the next 10 to 25 years to eventually bring bus rapid transit, commuter rail and a light rail system to the OKC metro. “The planning process to get us to the Transit System Plan has certainly been robust. The entire process was very efficient, and we got it completed in a short amount of time. It really does set us up for the next step, which is to get us to where we have a project or program of projects that can be reviewed and considered by the [Federal Transit Administration],” said RTA Interim Executive Director Jason Ferbrache. Creating the vision and formulating the goals were the first steps in developing the Transit System Plan for the Central Oklahoma region, which also included determining the potential corridors for rapid transit.

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RTA Transit System Plan: Regional Corridors

Figure 7. Future Transit System Future Transit System

The RTA’s plan is to obtain federal grant funds from the FTA; however, it must first seek approval of the plan from the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) before proceeding any further. If eventually approved by ACOG, the plan will then be included ACOG’s long-range regional plan as required by the federal government for the project to be eligible for federal funding. ACOG played a major role in getting the cities of Oklahoma City, Edmond, Moore, Norman, Midwest City and Del City, as well as various other groups, together to develop a transit study. Besides the FTA, there are other public entities or agencies that have played key roles throughout the planning process, including the Federal Highway Administration; Federal Railroad Administration; Oklahoma Department of Transportation; existing transit operators such as the Central Oklahoma

Transportation and Parking Authority, which operates EMBARK; CityLink Edmond; and the City of Norman. Four regional corridors were identified in the plan that would quickly and efficiently transport people to various “regional activity centers,” including educational institutions, commercial centers and entertainment areas. The North/South Corridor will connect Edmond to the north and Norman to the south; the East Corridor connects downtown OKC to Tinker Air Force Base; the Airport Corridor will connect downtown OKC to Will Rogers World Airport; and the West Corridor connects downtown OKC to the west towards Yukon. The Santa Fe Depot in downtown OKC will serve as the central hub for those connections. Officials said the approved plan can also be amended if future conditions warrant any modifications, such as growth and development.

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OKC’s warehouse and distribution sector thriving, e-commerce playing pivotal role

Expansion of Amazon’s fulfillment facility in OKC is a testament to the overall health of the metro’s warehouse and distribution sector. Expansion of Amazon’s fulfillment facility in OKC is a testament to the overall health of the metro’s warehouse and distribution sector.

I f you have driven along Interstate-44 just south of Will Rogers World Airport recently, you cannot help but notice Amazon’s new fulfillment center expansion going up just north of their current facility that opened in 2019. When it opens later this year, the new facility should nearly double Amazon’s warehouse space here to 1.6 million square feet and add another 500 jobs to the Oklahoma City metro. The fact that Amazon has chosen to expand in Oklahoma City is no doubt a sign of their satisfaction with doing business in the metro area and a testament to the overall growth and vitality of the warehouse and distribution sector in the Oklahoma City region. The health of the Oklahoma City metro’s warehouse and distribution sector is reflected in recent data published by labor market analytics firm Emsi that shows between 2010 and 2020, the number of jobs within the sector grew by 56% or 10,000 jobs. That growth rate even outpaced the state and nation, which saw jobs grow at a rate of 33% and 21%, respectively. If you compare Oklahoma City’s job growth to the state and nation within the last five years (2015-2020), it is even more pronounced.

Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, believes some of that growth can be attributed to a rise in on-demand delivery services resulting from COVID-19; however other reasons may not be as obvious. “E-commerce continues to drive some growth, but I also think as Oklahoma City continues to grow, it is serving more as a regional hub than it has in the past,” he said, noting that the warehouse and distribution industry accounts for $4.2 billion or 5.5% of total gross domestic product – the economy’s total output of goods and services – for the Oklahoma City metro. “Large distribution clusters like Kansas City and Dallas-Fort Worth in the center of the country typically have robust rail, air and highway infrastructure options. We have great transportation infrastructure here as well; however, we are not a mega-cluster like a Kansas City, a DFW or a Chicago. Just realizing our potential to be a regional multi-state hub is probably where we are positioned to best leverage our abilities right now,” Seymour said. Oklahoma City can do even more to maximize its

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“Just realizing our potential to be a regional multi-state hub is probably where we are positioned to best leverage our abilities right now,” ~Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

niche to serve as a strong regional multi-state hub in the warehouse and distribution sector, according to Seymour. Ensuring the state has a readily available workforce with the necessary skills and talents is a key factor in the equation, especially for those companies that rely heavily on or are making the transition to more automation. Another is having the right location, land and properties available to those companies that can help them grow. According to figures provided by CoStar, a third-party real estate listing service, there are more than 73 million square feet of warehouse and distribution commercial real estate inventory in the Oklahoma City market. With a vacancy rate of just 4%, it is not hard to see just how healthy the sector really is. “The warehouse and distribution sector in Oklahoma City is very healthy. In fact, I would even term it as hot,” said Randy Lacey, SIOR, first vice president of CBRE, the world’s largest real estate and investment firm. For 30 years, Lacey has worked as an industrial real estate broker and has seen firsthand how Oklahoma City’s warehouse and distribution sector has improved over several decades, dating back to the oil bust years

when vacancy rates were approaching 18%. He echoed Seymour’s sentiments concerning the impact the pandemic has had on the market. “E-commerce is one of the biggest driving forces in the market between fulfillment centers, last-mile facilities and sorting centers. That is all about warehouse space and has created a consistently low vacancy rate and kept the prices high. That is probably one of the biggest reasons why the industrial market is a preferred asset class and is so stable and predictable,” Lacey said. Brett Price, SIOR, senior managing director at Newmark Robinson Park, which specializes in the leasing and sales of industrial properties in Oklahoma, described Oklahoma City’s industrial market as “tight.” “You typically do not see a great deal of speculative industrial development in Oklahoma City. However, within the next 12 to 18 months, we expect to see quite a few developments kicking off,” Price said. Even with just a 4% vacancy rate for the Oklahoma City metro, Lacey said companies are still looking to expand or relocate to the region.

“There is a really healthy market of companies that are considering Oklahoma City,” Lacey said. “For example, we are working with a national developer right now that is already looking hard at building some distribution space here.” “One of the reasons why the industrial market is so stable here is because it’s never over built. Developers just don’t go out and start building a bunch of space like they do in some other markets. The cap rates are also higher in Oklahoma City. In other words, the investors get a higher rate of return here than they do in some of these other markets. That is very attractive to an investor and why they put money into this market,” Lacey said. Seymour explained that one of the Chamber’s primary goals from an economic development standpoint is for Oklahoma City is to have a well- diversified economy, and having a strong warehouse and distribution sector supports primary job growth. He pointed to recent efforts by the Chamber to lure companies from various industries to the Oklahoma City market. Of the approximately 70 projects

the Chamber is currently working, about 10% are warehouse/distribution projects. “[Warehouse and distribution] is our second highest category. Number one is manufacturing by far; the other is distribution. Manufacturing is huge, but they also usually have a distribution element to their operations. And number two is distribution. We consistently see a strong pipeline of warehouse projects of different categories,” Seymour said.

Amazon will add another 500 jobs in OKC when opens its newest facility near Will Rogers World Airport.

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interns and entry-level talent entering the workforce,” Copeland said. The first session takes place on June 16 and June 23 and will focus on how personal behavior, habits and practices can impact career development. On June 30 and July 14, interns will learn how to build, maintain and navigate relationships to build networks and teams. And then, on July 21 and July 28, the focus will center on building a mindset that fosters problem solving and big-picture thinking. J.D. Baker, who now serves as special assistant to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, is a former participant of InternOKC from 2017. He said the program provided him with the opportunity to meet fellow future Oklahoma City leaders and expanded his knowledge on what the city has to offer.

S tudies have shown that internships can play a pivotal role in helping college graduates land their first professional job, regardless of whether the internship is paid or unpaid. That is why programs such as InternOKC are so valuable to interns and the companies that hire them. Created in 2006 by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber to recruit and retain young talent in Oklahoma City, InternOKC provides soft skills enhancement and professional development opportunities to the region’s young professionals. Lee Copeland, director of talent and business growth for the Chamber, said the six-session series, which was canceled in 2020 because of COVID, will be held as an online event for the first time this summer from June 16 through July 28 on the Socio virtual platform. Each session will last one hour from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. “This year’s emphasis will be professional development opportunities for summer interns and to address the consistent soft skills gaps that exist for

InternOKC 2021: Setting up OKC’s future talent for success

J.D. Baker, center, takes a selfie with fellow interns during the 2017 InternOKC event. He would later land a job in the mayor’s office as a special assistant to Mayor David Holt.

for their summer interns. And then from the interns’ perspective, there is this tangible accomplishment they achieve if they choose to do all of the follow-up work asked of them,” Copeland said. Employers interested in enrolling their interns for this summer’s InternOKC program can do so by visiting abetterlifeokc.com/summerintern. The registration fee per intern is $125 for Chamber member companies or $200 for nonmembers. Employers are encouraged to post their available internships on the Chamber website as well. If you have questions or would like additional information about InternOKC, please contact Lee Copeland at lcopeland@okcchamber.com. Special thanks to Presenting Sponsor Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc.

“My experience in the InternOKC program gave me new insights and laid the groundwork to new professional opportunities in my future,” Baker said. “Even as a lifelong resident of Oklahoma City, the program fueled my excitement to invest in this city through networking and telling the story of how far OKC has come, dream on what it could be, and the role I could play to enhance this great American city.” The Chamber is partnering this year with the University of Central Oklahoma, who has agreed to issue a micro-credential in professional development to each participating intern who completes the program requirements. The interns can then, in turn, pin that micro-credential to their individual LinkedIn page to help them become more marketable to employers. “The value to employers is that they are getting additional training to augment whatever they are doing


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Learn about economic development strategies of tribal nations at next Chamber Forum

Chamber offers new programming geared toward the first year of membership



T he Greater Oklahoma City Chamber recently launched the Chamber Connection program, a multifaceted approach to introducing new members to the organization over a one-year period. Made up of in-person orientation meetings, a monthly email newsletter and a physical membership kit, Chamber Connection helps members learn more about the history, vision and mission of the Chamber while finding their place within the organization. If you joined the Chamber within the last 18 months, look for the Chamber Connection email in your inbox once a month. This series of 12 emails will introduce you to the Chamber’s senior-level staff members and give an overview of the departments that make up the organization. The monthly newsletter will also include the best tips for networking and promoting your business with the Chamber.

O n Wednesday, May 19, virtual Chamber Forum attendees will hear from a panel of leaders involved with economic development for some of Oklahoma’s tribal nations. They will discuss their strategies for growth, as well as highlight tribal nations’ impact on the state’s economy and overall job growth, among other topics. Panelists Jim Collard Director of Planning and Economic Development Citizen Pottawatomie Nation Jonna Kirschner President of CNI Manufacturing Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI) Bill Lance Secretary of Commerce

Member Orientation, the Chamber’s longstanding event that explains the Chamber’s key initiatives and allows networking with other members, has also been rebranded as a Chamber Connection event. It takes place every six weeks and is offered virtually at this time. You can register for this free online event at okcchamber. com/connect. New members will also receive their Chamber Connection welcome kit in the mail, which includes their membership log-in information and their membership plaque. “Our goal is for every member to feel connected to the work of the Chamber and the benefits of joining our organization,” said Sunny Cearley, vice president of membership. “The Chamber Connection program will help us deepen our member engagement like never before.”

The Chickasaw Nation Chamber Forum events start at 11:45 a.m. and run until 1 p.m. From 11:45 to noon, attendees will be able to engage in small-group networking at a virtual “table” courtesy of Zoom breakout rooms, so cameras are encouraged. Tickets for Chamber members are $15, and $25 for non-members. Chamber Forum half-season ticket packages for five Chamber Forums are still available for $75. Go to okcchamber.com/mayforum to register and to learn more. Special thanks to Presenting Sponsor Cox Business and Corporate Sponsor ADG.

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OKC retail market poised for a strong post- pandemic rebound J ust like in many communities across our state and nation, the pandemic has also taken its toll on Oklahoma City’s retail industry over the past 12 months, even forcing many businesses to shut their doors for good. But as springtime rolls on and summer beckons, the industry seems to be making a rebound, especially as COVID numbers decrease, restrictions soften and more people get vaccinated.

to the changing climate as quickly as possible to stay relevant.” According to recent data provided to the Chamber by Dun and Bradstreet, the Oklahoma City metro experienced a 5% closure rate for businesses during the pandemic between March 2020 and January 2021 (across all business types). A typical closure rate is between 3-4% annually. Out of those businesses that closed, 93% were companies with fewer than 10 employees. Approximately 15% of all the closures were in either the retail trade or accommodation and food service sectors. “The retail commercial districts took a really hard hit. Luckily, the district managers were able to help them prioritize, collaborate and create digital opportunities to showcase their product. Many unique ideas were born during COVID. In addition, the OKC Small Business Continuity Program helped many retailers stay afloat during this challenging time,” Fate said. The SBCP’s framework was developed in a partnership between the Greater OKC Chamber, the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, and the City.

The pandemic has also affected how the Chamber and others recruit businesses and developers to the Oklahoma City market. One national event the Chamber has attended for many years is the International Council of Shopping Center’s RECon conference. Typically held in May, this annual event in Las Vegas attracts developers, owners, brokers and retailers from across the nation; however, due to the pandemic, this year’s RECon was pushed back until December. Organizers expect the conference will return to its normal May timeframe in 2022. “This year, the format is going to change because it’s a little harder to get retailers to go to a show when it’s in the peak of their busy time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Fate said. “It is an opportunity for brokers to get together and touch base, and us from a city’s standpoint to push sites and get them out there in front of people. We have a massive presence at RECon.” Despite the business closures the Oklahoma City metro experienced early in the pandemic, Oklahoma City’s economy has steadily rebounded as people are getting more comfortable about going out in public,

especially as COVID numbers continue to decrease and more people are getting vaccinated. The employment picture has also improved with March’s preliminary unemployment rate standing at 4.0%, ranked as the nation’s fourth-lowest unemployment rate among large metros (more than 1 million in population). Time will tell if unemployment can reach pre-pandemic levels when Oklahoma City’s unemployment rate was 2.7% in March 2020. Fate is confident the Oklahoma City market will continue to improve and will be strong once again. Much of that belief rests on consumers. “From a traditional economic development standpoint, there are a lot of companies looking here, which will really help increase the amount of spending that is available within the Oklahoma City market. Consumer confidence is key. Optimistically, I think retailers are encouraged that there is a lot of pent-up demand out there. People are still a little cautious, but we are seeing more traffic and people out and about, especially within the last month,” Fate said.

Prior to the pandemic, sales tax collections were strong and Oklahoma City’s economy was reaping the benefits. But throughout the pandemic’s duration, especially when restrictions were at their highest, businesses large and small suffered. The retail industry was hit especially hard. “[The pandemic] definitely had a huge impact on retail,” said Tammy Fate, senior manager of retail development and recruitment at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Retailers had to reposition their strategy and creatively utilize omni channel and technology to offset the lack of in-store traffic due to limitation and restrictions. The goal was to pivot, adapt and survive

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Congratulations to Chamber members on their recent Grand Openings! To see the schedule of upcoming Grand Openings or subscribe to the Grand Openings calendar, visit okcchamber.com/grandopenings.

Oklahoma City Ranks #3 Overall Housing Affordability Overall Housing Affordability - Metros Over 1 Million Population


Overall Housing Affordability

% of Severely Cost-Burdened Households, $35,000-$75,000/year

Green Springs Dispensary 2407 N. Council Road Oklahoma City, OK 73008 Scooter’s Coffee 7040 NW 122nd St. Oklahoma City, OK 73142

School of Rock 7200 N. May Ave., Suite D Oklahoma City, OK 73116 The Brooks Clinic 6401 N.W. Expressway Oklahoma City, OK 73132







Oklahoma City 3








Source: Urban Land Institute 2021 Home Attainability Index. A rank of 1 is most favorable.

Win prizes for telling Oklahoma City’s story!

•Among U.S. metros with over 1 million population, Oklahoma City ranked 3rd for the lowest percentage of severely cost burdened middle-income households. •Urban Land Institute determined overall housing affordability by examining the extent to which middle-income households face substantial housing challenges.

•Middle-income households who earned $35,000 to $75,000 and spent more than 50 percent of income on housing were considered “severely cost burdened.”

For comprehensive Economic Indicators and Regional Data, please visit your Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Economic Development Division at greateroklahomacity.com or contact Eric Long, Research Economist – 405-297-8976; elong@okcchamber.com

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THE POINT! ISSUE #3555 - May 2021


JENNY LOVE MEYER Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores Vice Chair, Marketing and Communications J. LARRY NICHOLS Devon Energy Corporation Vice Chair, Strategic Planning STEPHEN M. PRESCOTT, M.D. Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Vice Chair, Bioscience and Technology NATALIE SHIRLEY National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Vice Chair, Convention and Visitor Development KENT SHORTRIDGE Oklahoma Natural Gas Company Vice Chair, Economic Development ROY H. WILLIAMS, CCE Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President & CEO

STEVE HAHN AT&T Oklahoma Vice Chair, Membership

SEAN TRAUSCHKE OGE Energy Corp. Chair PERCY KIRK Cox Communications Immediate Past Chair JOHN HART Continental Resources Treasurer

Editorial staff: Harve Allen, Nate Fisher and Cynthia Reid Designer: Josh Vaughn

JUDY J. HATFIELD, CCIM Equity Commercial Realty, LLC Vice Chair, Military and Aerospace RHONDA HOOPER Jordan Advertising Vice Chair, Business and Economic Inclusion BRADLEY W. KRIEGER Arvest Bank Vice Chair, Government Relations BILL LANCE The Chickasaw Nation Vice Chair, Community Initiatives TOM J. MCDANIEL American Fidelity Foundation Vice Chair, MAPS Development


P A R T N E R + United Dynamics, Inc. Aerospace Industries Mr. T. Glenn Davis. ....... (480) 544-5366 41001 Wolverine Rd.

A S SOC I A T E American Solutions for Business Advertising - Specialties Mr. Larry Zavadil. ......... (800) 862-3690 31 E. Minnesota Ave. Glenwood, MN 56334-1625 www.americanbus.com A S SOC I A T E David Allen Capital - Agency Investments Mr. Ralph E. Nichols..... (918) 381-8739 2809 NW 63rd St. P.O. Box 12104 Oklahoma City, OK 73157-2104 www.davidallencapital.com/101292671 A S SOC I A T E Mint Turbines LLC Aerospace Industries Mr. Chris Van Denhende.(918) 968-9561 2915 N. Highway 99 P.O. Box 460

A S SOC I A T E Woligo (dba) CamSolutions, LLC Insurance Ms. Jennifer Dunn. ...... (405) 345-1241 9000 Cameron Parkway Oklahoma City, OK 73114-3701 www.woligonow.com COR E Guaranty Title Title Companies Ms. Tiffany Golay. ....... (405) 261-4100 1319 Classen Drive Oklahoma City, OK 73103-2412 www.firstitle.com COR E Hilton Garden Inn Midtown OKC Hotels & Motels Ms. Valorie Willingham. (405) 607-4000 2809 NW Expressway Oklahoma City, OK 73112-7049

297-8900 thepoint@okcchamber.com okcchamber.com twitter.com/okcchamber facebook.com/okcchamber

McRoof Roofing Contractors Mr. Dustin Holt............. (855) 766-3405 714 Enterprise Drive Edmond, OK 73013-3671 www.mcroofrx.com COR E New York Life Insurance Insurance Mr. Neil Sherman. ....... (405) 830-6561 1818 W. Lindsey St., Suite C212 Norman, OK 73069-4181 COR E THN Insurance Solutions Insurance Mr. Thuan H. Nguyen... (405) 445-3268 2423 N. Classen Blvd. Oklahoma City, OK 73106 www.thninsurance.com

DAVID E. RAINBOLT BancFirst Corporation Corporate Secretary CLAYTON I. BENNETT Dorchester Capital Vice Chair, Strategic Planning TERESA ROSE CROOK Communities Foundation of Oklahoma Vice Chair, Education DAVID HAGER Devon Energy Corporation Vice Chair, Forward Oklahoma City

Shawnee, OK 74804-9026 www.united-dynamics.com

The Point (ISSN 1075-6264) is published monthly by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, 123 Park Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.

ADV I SOR CVTech Educational Services Dr. Gayla Lutts. ........... (405) 262-2629

e-mail thepoint@okcchamber.com.

Advertising rates upon request. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising.

6505 E. U.S. Highway 66 El Reno, OK 73036-9411 www.cvtech.edu

EME RG I NG L E AD E R LIBERTY Dental Plan of Oklahoma, Inc. Dental Service Plans Ms. Lisa Gifford............ (888) 273-2997 340 Commerce, Suite 100 Irvine, CA 92602 www.libertydentalplan.com

Managed cloud services that are actually managed

Stroud, OK 74079-0460 www.mintturbines.com

Member Upgrades The following member companies increased their investment in the Chamber, demonstrating strong support of the Chamber’s efforts to drive the region’s economy. To increase your investment, contact the membership division of the Chamber at 405-297-8949 or membership@okcchamber.com.

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ADV I SOR Baker First Commercial Real Estate, Inc. Real Estate - Commercial Mr. Rod N. Baker, CCIM........... 947-7200 2800 NW 36th St., Suite 200 Oklahoma City, OK 73112-7468 www.bakerfirst.com

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