On January 12th the Leadership Rogers County Class took part in Economic Development Day, focused mostly on the different machining and manufacturing businesses in the Rogers County area. The first meeting involved a discussion with the Executive Director of the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA), Meggie Froman-Knight. CIEDA was initially founded in 1948 and has adopted 3 basic pillars within the community: Business Retention/Expansion, Business Attraction, and Workforce Development. Those pillars are exemplified within each member on the CIEDA staff. One of the unique items that was discussed during Mrs. Froman-Knight’s discussion was that of how Claremore has one of just two custom robotics shops in the United States. Additionally, she mentioned that in the Business Attraction process, the average household income plays a large role and feeds directly into the ownership from a CIEDA perspective to make sure there is focus on Workforce Development.
Afterward, the class was able to speak with Kenneth Statton, President of MST Manufacturing, a local Claremore manufacturing facility that at the present moment employs 41 individuals. Mr. Statton grew up in Claremore, a product of the Claremore High School system (graduating class of 1986) and has long been invested in the community. He prides himself in running the business focused on building relationships, in fact their mission statement is “Building Relationships that Last.” MST Manufacturing is a CNC Machining business that manufactures airplane parts. Within the facility are two other businesses: Parts by MST and Liberty Forged.
Next, the class went to Rye Design, a husband (Andy Fiegener) and wife (Sarah Fiegener) owned and operated custom robotics firm. Founded initially in 2013, they make robotics 100% custom to the client. Typically, they are able to help build a robot to automate a process, with approximately a 3-6 month lead time from Purchase Order to implementation within the company or place of business. The husband and wife owned company makes an intentional push to keep their products local and outsource local when available, often relying on vendors from Tulsa, Arkansas, and other adjacent states. When asked “why Claremore”, Mr. Fiegener cited enjoying the small city feel, with it’s deep history, and it’s attention to a high quality of life.
Following lunch, the class visited the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, where they spoke with Sheila Shook, the Education and Workforce head of the port. Ms. Shook discussed the history of the Port of Catoosa (initially authorized for construction in 1946, operational by 1970), as well as its immense utility in that it is part of a 445-mile route to the Mississippi River. An interesting item to note is that when it was constructed, there was a hydro-electric system in place in which it could generate power from within the waterway itself. Further, upon completion of the construction, President Richard Nixon came to the Port of Catoosa in 1971 to dedicate it. The Port of Catoosa has an immense economic impact on the city, not only due to its 2500-acre plot currently occupied by 70 difference companies, but also due to the amount of agricultural items that are imported to the location on a daily basis (90% of their imports are agriculturally focused). Of note, some of the local businesses within the Port of Catoosa are: Honeywell., Midwest Crane Service, Transcontinental Packaging, LMI Aerospace, TriStar Glass, and NuStar). 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.