OK Dept of Commerce: Rural Development Changes
December 30, 2008

Dear Commerce Partner,

Over the past year, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce has taken an introspective look at what we do, how we do it, how we compare to best practices, and how well positioned we are for the future - all with an eye toward better serving our customers and partners and improving upon our mission to increase the quantity and quality of jobs in Oklahoma.

One objective was to identify those areas where we could better leverage our assets and talents to enhance our services to rural communities.  As you may be aware, we have had both Rural Development Specialists and Community Development Specialists providing Commerce support in each of the four quadrants.  An in-depth look at those processes revealed that we could better serve you by providing one, consistent point of contact for Commerce services, products and referrals. 

Effective January 1,  we have consolidated the roles of our rural and community development specialists and assigned each to their own area providing you with one go-to Rural Development Specialist for your economic and community development needs.  We are confident this structure will result in more responsive, personal service throughout the state.

Below are answers to questions you are likely to have about this new strategy.  If you find we have not answered your questions fully and your Rural Development Specialist cannot answer the additional questions you have, please contact Vikki Dearing at 405-815-4114 or Rob Gragg at 405-815-5259.  Our intent is to heighten our level of customer service in your area.

We look forward to our continued partnership, and we hope to hear your input as we proceed with implementation of this new strategy.  These uncertain economic times make this a perfect time to find synergies that will enable us to work more effectively together to create economic prosperity for the state.  Thank you for all you do for Oklahoma.

Questions & Answers

Who is my Commerce contact and how do I reach them?
Visit the Commerce website at www.okcommerce.gov/rds to see a map that outlines the counties assigned to each Rural Development Specialist.  Specific additional office locations are still to be determined and will be communicated as soon as they are finalized.  Contact information for each RDS is provided below.

What if I want to keep my current Commerce representative?
We've tried to maintain consistency as much as possible, but the goal to reduce the amount of territory covered by any one Rural Development Specialist means there will be a few changes.  We're happy you are pleased with your current Commerce representative, and we are confident that if you have a new representative, you will soon find a similar or even better relationship in store.

When does this go into effect?
January 2, 2009 with new offices in place by January 31, 2009. However, it will not be a drastic switch. There will be a transition phase to ensure proper training of new Rural Development Specialists and to ensure a smooth hand-off.

What about projects we're currently working on?
We won't pull anyone off of current projects.  You will continue to work with your existing representative during the transition phase.

How does this change Commerce's services to our communities?
We believe this will ensure better service because the Rural Development Specialists will have fewer counties to cover and can provide more personal assistance.  None of our programs will stop, but you may see slight changes to programs to make them more effective or more efficient. It's very important to point out here that this new role is much broader, encompassing both economic and community development.  Some of our communities are more in need of service and program assistance to improve their preparedness for economic development, while others are focused on job creation.  Our new structure will enable the Rural Development Specialist to have a more comprehensive view of what the needs are and be better positioned to deliver solutions that fit the needs of the community or regional partnership.

Commerce Rural Development Specialists will be able to assist with any Commerce product or service, such as:

  • Business retention and expansion;
  • Community and economic development;
  • Global business services;
  • Business attraction;
  • Regional economic development partnership assistance and development;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Workforce development; and
  • Referrals to Commerce and partner programs.