Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Finds Economic Development Consensus among Tulsans

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Finds Economic Development Consensus among Tulsans

Article excerpt

A new study suggests Tulsans have more common economic development views than recent elections might suggest - which offers hope for government leaders to craft a new comprehensive plan for Oklahoma's second-largest city.

Outside of the countywide Vision 2025 initiative approved in 2003, which will deliver its linchpin project in two months with the 18,000-seat BOK Center, Tulsans have voted down every development project government leaders have sought over the last decade, in sharp contrast to actions by Oklahoma City voters over the same period.

But a survey by the Austin-based research and planning company Collective Strength found 89 percent of Tulsans surveyed - which included 23-minute phone interviews with more than 90 community leaders as well as 1,000 other area residents - thought now was the time citizens should come together and act.

Chief Executive Robin Rather said that result came from each region of the city, both with whites and non-whites.

"The polling results are potentially powerful," said Rather, whose survey was commissioned by Fregonese Associates of Portland, Ore., the city's consultant on redrafting its comprehensive plan under the PLANiTULSA program.

Rather said that call to arms reflected widespread fear over Tulsa's economic future, with 79 percent backing efforts to find new economic opportunities and jobs. Support for small business and entrepreneurs drew 64-percent favorable responses, while 66 percent backed finding ways to keep the city's young people in the city.

Ironically, those key issues were touted by those supporting last year's Tulsa County effort to raise $282 million in new sales tax revenue for construction of two Arkansas River dams, as well as other projects designed to encourage commercial development along its banks.

Since the new study was not designed or intended to analyze past elections, Rather could not address such specifics. But the data could reflect on sentiment behind that election and failed efforts preceding the Vision 2025 vote.

Only 35 percent of Tulsans polled by Collective Strength thought the metropolitan area needed more entertainment venues, while only 31 percent named Arkansas River development as a priority. Collective Strength found only 31 percent considered more local independent retail a key issue, equaled by those backing more parks.

Another indicator came with the individual issue that drew strongest support, repairing and maintaining streets. …

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