Fort Cobb, OK – December 17, 2012 – Many may once remember visiting a viable, thriving mall at Crossroads in Oklahoma City. Today, however, the mall struggles due to a lack of anchor stores.
According to Wikipedia, when Crossroads Mall opened in February 1974 with anchor stores John A. Brown, Dillard's, Montgomery Ward and JC Penney, it was among the 10 largest shopping malls in the US. The mall was named Crossroads because it lies at the major intersection of I-35 and I-240, a major crossroads of the city.
What does this have to do with regional economic efforts in the area?
"What’s past is prologue" is a quotation by William Shakespeare from his play The Tempest. It is engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and it serves to remind those in the present, the importance of learning from the past.
When Caddo Kiowa Technology Center made the decision to become a player in economic development, it did so with the very notion that it would be a concentrated effort that would encompass the region.
“For economic development to be successful, it must be a regional effort,” stated Dennis Ruttman, superintendent.
With that predominant thought, CKTC unveiled its business incubator this summer and is now introducing the recently hired Director of Economic Development: Clark Southard.
“There is a fundamental difference between regional economic development and community economic development,” explained Southard. He used the analogy of a shopping mall, and it goes something like this.
There are towns around the region that function much like corner stores in the mall, and there are towns in the region that are like the stores around the corner stores in the mall. If the corner stores thrive, the stores around them thrive. If the corner stores close, the mall closes and everyone loses.
In essence, not every community in the district can be a Dillards; they can thrive, nonetheless, if the Chickashas, Lawtons and Weatherfords in the area are flourishing.
And that is the focus of the efforts of CKTC’s Economic Development Center and its newly appointed director -- Regional Economic Development.
“My roots are rural America,” said Southard. “I don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I do know if you diversify, you succeed.”
Southard retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2003. He has worked for the past several years with the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments and the Southwest Oklahoma Impact Coalition in economic and workforce development with a primary focus on the impact of Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 on the twenty-county region of Southwest Oklahoma.
Southard said, “The overall importance and economic impact of Oklahoma’s military installations is huge and must be protected against future BRACs. I have had the unique opportunity to meet and work with leaders in business from the manufacturing, healthcare and energy sectors; education leaders in our regional universities and colleges, technology centers and our P-12 schools; as well as community leaders and elected officials at all levels of government from the city and municipal, county, state and federal levels. Now, I will be able to hone my focus more directly at the economic and workforce needs in the area served by Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. This is a new directorship and I look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead.”
The CKTC Regional Economic Development board feels confident that Southard will move things forward.
“I believe Mr. Southard is ready to hit the ground and go forward in economic development,” said Bob Thomasson, Caddo Electric Cooperative General Manager and Regional Economic Board member “I believe he will be very successful.”
Additional information about CKTC is available online at www.caddokiowa.com or by calling 405.643.5511.
Posted on Mon, December 17, 2012
by Susan McElhaney