Business Strategy: Supporting success of small businesses, entrepreneurs is a competitive advantage

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Kenton Tsoodle
Kenton Tsoodle

Over the last five years, the federal government has poured $1.9 trillion in funding to support economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and, like other cities across the nation, Oklahoma City has worked to invest our relief funds in a way that best supports our economy.

Starting in 2020, The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City debuted programming to help individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses in our community survive, recover and thrive after the pandemic. In total, Oklahoma City has received $122.5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The Alliance has worked closely with the City of Oklahoma City, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and other partners to develop relief and recovery programs in a way that had the most lasting economic impact on our Oklahoma City businesses.

It’s the same level of strategy and planning we bring to using other economic development tools including MAPS, TIFs, public investment and other incentives to drive and support private investment and economic growth. Our success in using our economic development tools efficiently has helped us compete with major cities to encourage businesses to establish and retain operations in our market.

It’s important to recognize that these federal ARPA resources and investments are not exclusive to Oklahoma City. This is a reality that highlights the importance of strategic and forward-thinking investment to ensure OKC stands out among its peers since other cities are also using ARPA tools to stabilize and grow their businesses.

Buffalo city leaders allocated $3.5 million to support a well-regarded, minority-focused business resource center, while Milwaukee allocated $15 million in economic and workforce development to support neighborhood revitalization, adult workforce development and trade programming, and summer youth employment programs.

In today’s dynamic landscape, cities must actively invest in their growth and economic development to remain competitive. One of Oklahoma City’s standout qualities is our collaborative approach to public-private investments. We are known for working together; city leaders, community members, developers and investors – to make an impact and other cities have taken notice and worked to emulate that collaborative approach.

Supporting our business community, helping businesses be more resilient to bumps and curveballs in the future, and attracting employers and employees to OKC will require more than amenities but continuous innovation and growth. As the ARPA funds sunset, The Alliance will be giving the community reports about the positive results we’ve realized and will continue to look for the best ways to invest our economic development tools to benefit Oklahoma City.

Kenton Tsoodle is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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