Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance
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SET begins work on plans for economic development in 4 counties in northeast Oklahoma

Published: Friday, April 7, 2017

Four counties in NORA’s region worked together recently to develop a strategic plan for Adair, Cherokee, Delaware and Sequoyah counties (dubbed Crossing Borders Region) through the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative. 

Stronger Economies Together is a proven, highly interactive program that promotes rural economic development. SET was established in 2009. The purpose of SET is to strengthen communities by working together and developing plans that will aid in furthering economic development in their region.

Dave Shideler, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension community development specialist briefly explained that the plans basic goals include growing regional healthcare, diversifying Cherokee culture for tourism, regionalization of water, and agricultural production.

“The basic format is that community and county residents and leaders in a regional program work together to identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses with the help of OK-SET professionals drawn from key state and federal agencies, land-grant university Extension programs and other public and private organization,” said Shideler.

Shideler said Oklahoma’s Crossing Borders Region recently completed the Phase Five regional planning process and received approval from the national SET committee.

Over 80 local leaders met six times over the span of 10 months to discuss regional economic goals to reach for the four counties. These goals were formed by evaluating the regions values and needs as well as specific background data of the citizens.

 “They’re getting $5,000 in seed money from USDA-Rural Development to implement several important elements of their plan,” Shideler said. “The plan satisfies specific grant requirements relative to several federal agencies, which is a key to qualify for the set-aside funds.”

Jim Wilson, former state senator and NORA Board Chair, explained that this plan will help northeast Oklahoma by combining the inventory of assets and potential of several communities and counties. This enhances opportunities not available within one community or county.

“I became involved with SET because of my experience with NORA and awareness of data verifying the value of regional economic development efforts,” said Wilson. “The most important part of the SET plan is the combination of talented people from the four counties bringing their knowledge and commitment to the plan.”

For more information on this plan and how it is being implanted for northeast Oklahoma, please visit www.neokregion.org and click the SET logo on the home page.