The Status of Economic Development in Cushing

In March of 2016 the City Commission entered into an agreement with the Economic Development Foundation. A not for profit foundation that will be tasked with hiring and Economic Developer for the Cushing Trade Area. During the Cushing Conversations the commissioners were asked about the position and referred the questions to Mike Griffeth, who resides on the foundation board. Mr. Griffeth's answer can be seen below. We apologize for his back being turned to the camera.  

The question to the commission was; What is the status and long term plan is for the Economic Developer position. Mr. Griffeth refers to an agreement that was struck in March 21st of 2016. The agreement is vague, and has little detail other than these items, offered by the document. The "Director" of economic development will be an employee of the Economic Development Foundation (EDF). The Cushing Industrial Authority (CIA) agrees to pay the the EDF a sum of $100,000 annually. There are no specifics on how that tax payer money will be used. It does not specify that a portion will go to the salary of the the "Director" or how they will handle the expenses of the position, regarding travel and courting new business or industry. The city does require a detailed financial report on record, on or before July 31st. But offers no specifics on what those details should be. The agreement also states that it will rely on the new director to develop his or her own program of work. The (CIA) Cushing Industrial Authority will have final approval, but seems to rely heavily on the new directors recommendations.  The agreement also states that the Economic Development Foundation will have oversight of the day to day employment of the director. And only requires annual reports from the director on the progress of projects and activities. It also requires the director to complete an annual report to the Cushing Industrial Authority. Please see a copy of the official agreement below.   

Page 1 of the City's Agreement with the Economic Development Foundation 

Page 2 of the City's Agreement with the Economic Development Foundation

Page 3 of the City's Agreement with the Economic Development Foundation

RDMGtv obtained a copy of the agreement at city hall with a freedom of information request.

Opinions on whether Cushing needs an Economic Developer vary. Some say that the Economic Developer or "Director" should also be well versed in grant writing, and other skills that will help pay for their position while getting things up and running. The job description does not specifically require these additions. Others would say that leaving the entire program of what the ED should be doing, on behalf the community, is putting a large emphasis on the hiring process alone. None of this is spelled out in detail, in the agreement above. How do you feel as citizens who pay taxes in Cushing; should oversight of the position be more of a community represented, hands on venture? Or do you feel comfortable with the position working behind closed doors for the good of the general tax payer? Either way, it's going to be a challenge to attract the right business and industry. How will the public know if it's getting what it pays for? I think that most citizens in Cushing, more than anything, want Cushing to move forward, be innovative, and find complimentary businesses that grow and contribute beyond oil and gas industries. Let's see if that can be accomplished by trying something we have done in the past. Citizens and voters will have to be the judge, in the end.  History dictates that we need to look at how effective we were 30 years ago. Do we have the correct approach? What will be considered success or failure? Will we know when we should refocus the expenditure of funds? Are we are shooting before we have a specific plan in place to aim for, and accomplish measured goals. $100,000 of tax payer money annually, based on a plan to hire well, in a two week time period,  seems a little precarious to me. But at least we are trying again. Time will tell.