On Wednesday, the Tulsa City Council heard on first reading a trust indenture amendment, which if approved, will rename the Tulsa Industrial Authority to the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity (TAEO).
Councilors are expected to vote on the measure in their April 7, 2021, meeting.
The name change will mark an important step toward the implementation of the City’s plans to establish a merged, independent economic development authority.
Additionally, the trust indenture establishes a 13-member board, with the Mayor and members of the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) serving as Ex Officio members with full voting rights. The Mayor will serve as Chair of TAEO.
“This is an important step forward in our economic development efforts as we seek to further increase equality of opportunity across our city,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “The creation of this new authority will use the economic development resources owned by the citizens of Tulsa to make our city more economically competitive on a global scale and also bring us closer to being a city of opportunity for all.”
The amended and restated indenture also modifies the trust purposes to incorporate specific reference to the new Authority’s role in promoting racial equity and resolving disparities in economic outcomes.
Ultimately, the creation of this Authority will streamline and strengthen the City’s economic development efforts through an independent, professionally-staffed development team with additional accountability and larger goals of shared prosperity and racial equity.
“For the past several years, the City and City Council have been focused on identifying and addressing ongoing disparities in Tulsa, particularly those that fall along the lines of race,” District 1 City Councilor and Council Chair Vanessa Hall-Harper said. “As the Equality Indicators Report has shown, economic mobility in Tulsa remains our biggest challenge, signaling a need for bold, aggressive action to do more and to do so quickly. Establishing this new Authority firmly commits the City to a long-term focus on shared prosperity and racial equity, ensuring we have the ability to invest long-term in innovative economic development efforts. I look forward to working alongside the Trustees and staff of the new Authority to ensure they shape a program of work, performance metrics, and budget that is just and equitable to all of Tulsa’s citizenry.”
When fully executed in the coming months, the new Authority will incorporate and merge the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (MOED), Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA), Tulsa Parking Authority (TPA), and Economic Development Commission (EDC). The entity will provide staffing for the Tulsa Development Authority, and an expanded Board will allow TDA Trustees to serve coterminous on the new Authority.
“This step marks the first in a series of bold actions to transform Tulsa’s economic development efforts and refocus them to ensure we are reducing inequities and creating economic opportunity,” said Katie Plohocky, Tulsa Industrial Authority chair. “To truly achieve this objective, in the coming months we must focus on engaging Tulsans to determine our economic development priorities, while working to align our budget and programming around this new mission. I look forward to serving as a Trustee for this new Authority, and ensuring we do just that.”
Next steps in the process include:
Long-term Strategic Planning
HR&A Advisors is supporting economic development staff in developing the mission, vision, and values for the new Authority; establishing community engagement protocols to guide the new Authority’s policies for interacting with residents on an ongoing basis; and developing a 5-year strategic plan to guide the new Authority’s programming, staffing, and resource allocation.
In the coming weeks, economic development staff expect to announce engagement opportunities that will allow Tulsans a chance to provide feedback during this planning process.
Brand, Identity, and Website Development
The City and TIA have allocated funding to issue an RFP for services to support developing a brand and identity for the new Authority, as well as a website for the new Authority.
This RFP will be issued in the 2nd quarter of 2021; it is expected that the process will result in the identification of a “doing business as” name for the Authority, as well as the visual identity of the organization.
To read a full version of the economic development strategy behind this effort, visit: www.cityoftulsa.org/econdev.
Work began in early 2020 with consulting firm HR&A Advisors to create an inclusive strategy through which the City could improve the economic opportunities of Tulsa’s communities and address racial disparities, while streamlining processes and addressing existing inefficiencies. The new Authority will be charged with leading the City’s work in the areas of business retention, expansion, and attraction; commercial, neighborhood and housing development; public finance and incentives; and workforce and human capital initiatives.
A little more than a year ago, a steering committee and City leaders partnered with HR&A to embark on an outreach process to examine the capacities and priorities of local partners. The team facilitated seven stakeholder roundtable discussions, held more than 30 staff interviews from nine agencies, departments, and commissions, and reviewed more than 200 reports, documents and publications.
HR&A, who recently worked with the City of Pittsburgh and its Urban Renewal Authority to develop a strategy for their public economic and community development efforts, worked with MOED to align the activities, missions and structures of seven key economic and community development entities.
Partners assisting HR&A in the development of the economic and community development strategy include: The Mayor’s Office; Economic Development Commission; Tulsa Development Authority; Tulsa Industrial Authority; Tulsa Parking Authority; and the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority.
About HR&A Advisors
HR&A Advisors is a mission-driven economic development and public policy consulting firm. HR&A’s work at the intersection of the public and private sectors enables the firm to create effective strategies for cities to tackle their most pressing economic development challenges, including how to align economic development functions and programs with the broader policy goals of cities and their communities.