City officals, business leaders attend Owasso's annual Economic Summit

OWASSO, Okla. - Owasso business leaders and city officials gathered Friday for the 2013 Owasso Economic Summit at the Bailey Education Foundation at Bailey Medical Center.

Attendees heard from a Tulsa Tech panel, which included Superintendent and CEO Steve Tiger, as well as Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

The keynote speaker of the day was Dr. Mark Snead, an economist and president of Region Track.

Snead gave an overview of Owasso's economic forecast Friday afternoon, past, present and future.

"Owasso is not a typical Oklahoma city," Snead said. "You are population-driven. That is not the case for the rest of the state ... You are not an energy-driven area. That is vastly different from the rest of Oklahoma."

Snead noted the majority of Owasso residents do not work in Owasso, and 75 percent of those who work in Owasso do not live in the city, another factor that he said is not common in most cities across the state.

From 1999-2009, Owasso saw 5.2 percent population growth and 8.8 percent job rate growth.

"These are numbers that have only occurred in two places in Oklahoma over the last 50 years," he said. "One would be the hyper-suburbs like this one and the other would be oil and gas boom areas. This doesn't happen very often."

Snead quoted Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray when he described the influx of development over the past decade.

"What created Owasso and what drives Owasso is the two 'Rs' – rooftops and retail."

The last few years, however, Snead said the city has seen a decline in its revenue.

"You had what I would call an extended slowing late in 2010 and into early 2011," he said. "You, along with Tulsa, are at least four quarters behind the state as a whole. At this point you are approaching two full years of recovery behind you. You are coming out fairly rapidly, but you are starting out at a lower base."

Snead believes the source of that slump is the lack of an oil and gas influence in the area.

He did note the city's income levels were higher than most.

"There was a clear income shift for higher-income households. What you really have done to shift the income distribution upward was very low income households have left the region in large numbers."

Snead also said Owasso saw "some major industry shifts during the recession that factored the local resident pull."

Although Owasso's retail is currently "well below state level," it is "well above inflation level," and Snead believes the city's revenue is headed upward to match the state's retail sales increase.

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