Leadership Rogers County spent the day touring Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa and two manufacturing facilities, Steel and Pipe Supply located at the Port of Catoosa, and Pryer Aerospace located in the Claremore Industrial Park. The group also received insight from a panel of local Economic Development experts: John Feary, Executive Director, Claremore Industrial & Economic Development Authority; Jill Ferenc, City Planner, City of Claremore; and Jessica Jackson, Executive Director, Claremore Main Street.
The day began with an overview of Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa provided by Sheila Shook. Shook stated, “The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is a 445 river mile system running from Catoosa to the Mississippi River.” Further, Shook told Leadership Rogers County, “Catoosa is 420 feet high in elevation than the Mississippi River.” Locks and dams are needed for barges to navigate. The locks and dams act as elevators to raise or lower vessels. Shook told the group, “There are 18 locks on the navigational system with five in Oklahoma and 13 in Arkansas.” The Port provides an efficient way to ship raw materials, such as rolls of steel, to Oklahoma, which are then transported to manufacturing facilities to create finished goods. The Tulsa Port also provides a way for grains to be shipped to and from Oklahoma.
Leadership Rogers County toured Steel and Pipe Supply, where Kelly Marsh explained how rolls of steel shipped on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation system are processed for manufactures in the area. Marsh stated, “The large rolls of steel are unrolled and cut to the dimensions each specific manufacturer needs.” The steel is stacked on pallets and trucked to various manufacturers in the area.
Leadership Rogers County was treated to lunch with three local economic development experts.
John Feary discussed the new Country Club Road initiative. “The new road will open up land for development opportunities,” said John Feary. Jill Ferenc talked about the Plaza area and Opportunity Zones. Jill stated, “Real estate investors are still interested in the Plaza and the Plaza is now in the Opportunity Zone.” Opportunity Zones are part of the 2016 Tax Reform. Jill told the group, “Opportunity Zones create a tax incentive for developers to invest capital in a particular area.” Claremore’s Opportunity Zone includes the downtown. Jessica Jackson stated, “The Main Street Program provides grants to help with redevelopment of historic main streets.”
Following lunch, Leadership Rogers County toured Pryer Aerospace with Douglas Brehm, Director of Safety & Production Readiness. Brehm stated, “Pryer has experienced significant growth and plans to expand in the near future.” Pryer Aerospace has two locations, one in Tulsa with about 100 employees and the Claremore Industrial Park location with 30 employees. Brehm said, “Pryer has several large contracts and needs work ready employees to meet the demand.”
Leadership Rogers County learned the local economy is strong and diverse. Rogers County has opportunities for employment in manufacturing. Retail continues to grow. The opening of Country Club Road and Highway 20 expansion will open up additional economic growth opportunities. Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa is a great asset for Rogers County and all of Northeastern Oklahoma with the ability to ship products and raw material all over the world.