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GAME CHANGERS

Removing Factors That Impede Progress

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Game Changers are those action items that are sometimes difficult to implement because of expense, politics, timing, and other factors that impede the changes that can have an enormous impact on the economy, surroundings, and the general quality of life in the community.

 

These recommendations are very important and necessary and are listed in no order. The following Game Changers for Miami, OK, and the surrounding region are recommended:

PUBLIC POLICY

The Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce should be the “public policy” entity for economic development restricted to only taking sides on issues deemed to affect the business community and economic development. There should be a clear message that they do not engage in personal politics, nor do they take sides in political races.

 

The chamber should investigate the formation of a Political Action Committee (PAC) with a 501(c)4 IRS designation that can accept donations to support, defend, or defeat those issues that affect economic development and the Miami business community. Those issues could include, but are not limited to, school bond issues, funding for workforce development and higher ed, funding for economic development, or statewide referendums affecting the business community.

Consider having the MAEDS and chamber CEOs register as lobbyists with the State of Oklahoma.

GRDA RELATIONSHIP/FLOODING

This is a long-running and complex issue for the region. The latest development is a decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 18, 2024, requiring the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) to file a report within 120 days outlining the following (copied directly from the 36 page FERC report: “(1) a flood-frequency analysis for the peak inflow into Grand Lake that estimates the 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, and 50-year peak inflow into Grand Lake; (2) inflow hydrographs by scaling a range of historic inflow events to match the peak inflows estimated for the 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, and 50-year peak inflows estimated above; (3) water surface profiles for the Neosho River and major tributaries for with- and without-dam conditions for each of the scaled frequency floods; (4) for each flood frequency, the point of intersection where the with-dam and without-dam water surface profiles are within one foot of each other—the point of intersection should be placed at the elevation of the higher of the two profiles; and (5) a backwater envelope curve connecting the high points of intersection of the with-dam and without-dam water surface elevation profiles for each of the flood frequencies and map these elevations on the best-available topographic data to determine the spatial extent of flooding due to the project.

“GRDA must include in its report an analysis of each parcel or lot on lands upstream of the Pensacola Dam affected by flooding due to the existence of the project and develop a table with a unique identifier for each parcel/lot and provide the acreage amount of the parcel/lot.  For each parcel/lot GRDA must identify: (1) the specific project purpose(s), including flowage, that is served by each individual parcel/lot and whether the parcel/lot is within the current project boundary; and (2) GRDA’s current property rights (i.e., fee title, easement, lease, or other types) for each property.  GRDA must compare the results in step (5) above (backwater envelope curve) to its existing property rights, including flowage easements, as identified in the analysis above.  The report must also include detailed maps and/or geographic information system data to visualize the above information, including the current project boundary location.” 

The City of Miami staff continues to successfully pursue grants and other remedies available to address this ongoing concern of many citizens. City officials should continue to work aggressively with FEMA and other agencies to find solutions to the flooding issue while awaiting a more permanent solution.

The recommendation for flooding mirrors the recommendations under Public Policy activity detailed in this report.

TRIBAL RELATIONSHIPS

It is important that the City of Miami, Ottawa County, the Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce, and MAEDS create and maintain a close working relationship with the Native American tribes in the area. This relationship can bear many social and economic benefits for all.

 

Examine the relationships tribal entities have with chambers, cities, and economic development organizations in other Oklahoma communities.

 

There should also be an effort to place the chiefs and other high-level tribal officials on boards and committees on all economic development-related organizations.

HOUSING

The City of Miami should develop a request for proposal for a housing needs analysis. The resulting information could be used to develop one or more “housing TIF” projects. A TIF or Tax Increment Financing project pays for streets, utilities, and other infrastructure, taking this expense out of the developer’s expenses and making the development attractive financially.

 

A housing TIF project can be developed on property that has been deemed “blighted” by the governing body. Several communities in Oklahoma have successfully used TIF financing to create new housing developments.

 

The housing needs analysis should dictate the size and pricing for new housing. The information provided by a housing needs analysis and TIF financing should produce housing developments.

 

FUNDING

While the City of Miami provides funding for economic development, there is a need for more adequate funding to complete the recommendations in this report. It is recommended that MAEDS investigate the potential to engage in a campaign to fund these action items.

 

Further, MAEDS should explore the potential for an economic development sales tax. Several Oklahoma communities such as Bartlesville, Duncan, Ponca City, and others enjoy the successes of economic development programs funded by a sales tax.

 

These rates range from city to city. Most are governed by a city commission that contracts services with a not-for-profit economic development organization like MAEDS. The consideration of a 1/8-cent economic development sales tax would be a good starting point.

 

Also, consider taking a group of community leaders to one of Oklahoma’s sales tax cities for a “benchmarking" visit.

 

PRODUCT

A famous business owner once said, “You can’t sell anything from an empty wagon!” The Miami area needs available land and buildings – known in the economic development profession as “product.” Here are some examples and recommendations:

 

Spec Building – MAEDS and city officials recently celebrated a new company moving into the spec building in Progress Industrial Park. It is recommended that planning for the next spec building begin as soon as possible. A high-quality, available building is a “prospect magnet.”

 

Business/Industrial Park – When the new Business Retention & Expansion manager is on board, he/she should be tasked with identifying all available industrial/business property in Ottawa County. Include both the developed industrial/business parks as well as “green field” sites.

 

Future Land Acquisition – Explore and make plans for additional land acquisition. Consider tribal partners for the development of a new business park. There are tremendous advantages for both the tribal business entities and the community for a partnership.

 

PLACE MAKING (Quality of Life)

The following are suggestions to enhance the life quality in Miami. Many of these ideas are derived from communities where they have been used and implemented successfully.

 

Entry Ways – Work with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to have the property in and around the on/off ramp tollgate transferred to the City of Miami.

 

Also, work with them to have the equipment/storage yard moved to the area south and west of the toll gate and to transfer that property also to the City of Miami. There are several large areas of turnpike right-of-way south of Miami on the turnpike that could easily house the equipment and materials storage.

 

The City of Miami should develop plans to enhance the entry way with signage, possibly a visitors' center, and other amenities to lure travelers to explore the community.

 

Wayfinding Signage – Wayfinding signage helps the visitor and the newcomer find their way around the community. The signs should be designed to be attractive and easily read to reflect directions to city hall, the courthouse, schools, NEO A&M, the chamber of commerce office, and other important destinations in the community.

 

College Town – Miami is a college town! A college town usually enjoys expanded amenities in the restaurant, entertainment, sports, and other areas. Being the home to NEO A&M and being a “college town” should have a prominent place in all marketing and advertising.

 

College towns are magnets for retirees looking to relocate.

Trails and Bike Lanes – Bicycling has become the fastest growing and most popular activity. All ages are taking part in this exercise and healthy phenomenon.

 

The City of Miami should develop a strategy for including bike lanes in all new street repairs and new construction. Many communities require a bike lane in the streets in any new development. Consider the potential for connecting city parks and venues with bike lanes and trails.

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