Port, Chamber Launch Muskogee Forward

Submitted by Marie Synar, Muskogee City-County Port Authority, May 13, 2020

Tuesday afternoon, the Muskogee City-County Port Authority and the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce announced that a task force has been created to strategically address how the community moves from disaster response to economic recovery.

The program, called Muskogee Forward, isn’t a short-term plan, but is expected to be a 12-month effort focusing on restoring the local economy.

“Muskogee has experienced more than its fair share of disasters, but this COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything any of us have ever seen,” said Marie Synar, director of the Muskogee City-County Port Authority. “Just as with any disaster, there comes a time when you roll your sleeves up, pick up the pieces and you begin again.”

Muskogee Forward is not meant to take place of the Joint City-County COVID-19 Task Force and will not be making any recommendations on Muskogee’s re-opening strategy.

“Our priority is to do everything we can to help our businesses and citizens recover from this crisis and to take action that will enable our economy to return stronger than before,” Synar said.

The creation of the task force comes at a time when not only private businesses, but city employers across the country also are facing job cuts and loss of business.

“The goal of Muskogee Forward is to come up with a plan to stabilize and restore local businesses and our local tax base,” said Angela Wilson, president and CEO of the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce.

The newly-formed task force has established a series of objectives to include:

• Assess and forecast the economic impact of COVID-19 within the city and county.

• Monitor the economic health of employers within the city and county.

• Provide communication and technical assistance resources to businesses.

• Develop a strategy to stimulate the economy within key sectors.

• Develop a strategy to assist unemployed and displaced workers.

• Identify additional services needed to help businesses, individuals and families recover.

• Host industry roundtable discussions to incorporate input/feedback from businesses.

Task Force members include:

Marie Synar, Muskogee City-County Port Authority; Angela Wilson, Muskogee Chamber of Commerce; Marlon Coleman, City Council; Ken Doke, County Commissioner; Lisa Smith, NORA; Judy McCombs, Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance; Ryan Davis, OESC/Oklahoma Works; Dr. Jerri Stoutermire, Eastern Workforce Board; Tony Pivec, Indian Capital Technology Center; Kerry Keane, Fit Happens; Sue Vanderford, Cowboys BBQ, Pinon Creek, 810 Ranch; Heather Cain, Home2 Suites / MHLA; Jeff O’Neal, Advantage Controls / GMMA; Kim Lynch, Neighbors Building Neighborhoods; Daniel Miller, Edward Jones; John Tyler Hammons, Hammons & Price Law; and Tim Thompson, OG&E.

“We have a broad representation, especially from industries that were most impacted,” Wilson said. “We wanted to have small businesses as part of the task force. We also have our hospitality and tourism represented. Each industry is experiencing this pandemic differently, and it’s important that we consider their individual needs and challenges.”

There will be opportunities for businesses and community members to come together around creative ways to rebuild and recover in the near and long term.

The task force is asking for the local business community to provide insight as to how COVID-19 has impacted their business by participating in a survey. The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2020_Muskogee_Business_Survey. Deadline for responses are May 20.

“We’re also planning to host industry-specific forums, so we can hear directly from business owners about what they need,” Wilson said. “We will provide resources to help businesses through this time.”

The Muskogee City-County Port Authority and the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce will help to administer the action items and communications for the task force.

The best way to stay informed on the Economic Recovery Task Force is to visit the Muskogee Forward website at www.muskogeeforward.com and follow on social media at fb.me/MuskogeeForward. Information: www.cityofmuskogee.com or www.visitmuskogee.com.

Source: Muskogee Phoenix

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