Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance
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Summit Sponsor Spotlight: Grand River Dam Authority

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017

Northeastern Oklahoma Regional Alliance (NORA) is fortunate to receive support from many corporations, businesses, government entities and individuals throughout the 14 county region. The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) supports the goals and work of NORA and provides a staff member to volunteer with the non-profit dedicated to enhancing economic development in the region.
Justin Alberty, GRDA vice president of Corporate Communications, has served as a member of the NORA Board of Directors since last summer.
"I think NORA helps to serve to get many groups and organizations with common goals all working together in a coordinated, organized effort," said Alberty.
That “alliance” word at the end of the NORA name is no accident, he added.
"When talent, resources, people and effort all come together, it can have a tremendous positive impact," he said.
Obviously, Tahlequah is one of the communities at the heart of the NORA region and does see the positive impacts of NORA efforts, Alberty said.
 "I just appreciate the opportunity to serve on the board, with so many people who are committed to the region," he said, "also, I appreciate the efforts of Darla Heller and the NORA staff for keeping this organization moving along on a daily basis."
Executive Director of NORA, Heller said it is through partnerships with organizations like GRDA that  NORA can help establish the foundation essential for the greatest economic growth and stability for the region and overall healthy communities.
"GRDA is a long-time supporter of NORA and committed to helping their communities grow and prosper by aiding in numerous efforts that will lead to greater job creation and wealth generation," said Heller.  "Their support of NORA is an example that the organization is concerned about all of northeast Oklahoma and dedicated to growth and health of the region."
For Alberty the partnership works because of shared goals.
"GRDA is built on a “5E mission” that includes a focus on, "Employees; Electricity; Economic Development; Environmental Stewardship; and Efficiency,"Alberty said. "We feel like many of these same goals – geared towards making Oklahoma a better place to live, work and play are shared by our many partners in the region, including our customer communities and other NORA members."
Volunteering with NORA is beneficial on several levels, said Alberty, "not only from my “job” perspective but also from my personal perspective. I grew up in this region and my children are doing the same now. I want them to see more opportunities here. I want the same for my neighbors."
Also it is important to note that GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility, fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales, instead of taxes, he said.
"GRDA also sells wholesale electricity to many communities across the NORA region like Tahlequah and Pryor, Wagoner, Sallisaw and Stilwell and manages more than 70,000 surface acres of lake waters – Grand Lake and Lake Hudson – as well as the scenic Illinois River," Alberty said. "Together, all these represent not only some of the most popular recreation destinations in the region but, at the same time, support a broad tax base that rests on that recreation/tourism foundation."
The majority of GRDA's workforce of more than 600 Oklahomans reside in the NORA area, he said, "so we do want this area to be that special place to raise a family, to work and play," he said.
"Every day, we are at work, in many ways, to help boost the area – by providing electricity, resource management and economic development assistance," said Alberty, who is looking forward to the upcoming annual NORA summit.
It is just a great time of interaction among all these folks with common goals and even common challenges, he said.
"When we can come together like this it just helps to keep us focused and together," Alberty said.
The 9th Annual NORA Summit, Tuesday, Oct, 24 at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, will focus on health as an economic development driver. Speakers and workshops are designed to help communities, businesses, and organizations discover how focusing on healthy practices can build a stronger northeast Oklahoma. More than 300 stakeholders from the region will be on hand to collaborate and participate in this one-day event
To register contact Darla Heller, Executive Director, P.O. Box 945, Tahlequah, OK 74464, Phone: (918) 772-8334, and