Possible Williams merger a big blow for Tulsa

Posted at 10:17 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 06:58:34-04

City leaders say they are still reeling over the news of Tulsa-based Williams possibly moving its jobs to Dallas.

The paperwork was filed by Dallas Company Energy Transfer Corporation Wednesday with the SEC.

It's no secret that Williams has been an anchor in Tulsa's economy and development. But if this merger is approved, it's the everyday impacts that many leaders will be sad to see go.

“Williams is engaged in everything that happens in this community,” said Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce President Mike Neal.

Housed in the largest building in Tulsa, Williams has had a hand in shaping Oklahoma.

“They've got phenomenal assets as a company, but their companies are people,” said Neal. “They've got extraordinary people with great talent, engineers, accountants ... they've got people from all walks of life.”

The merger proposal could move that talent to Dallas if approved by shareholders.

It's an unexpected move to leaders who say the local economy will suffer from the loss, but it's the community who might take the biggest hit.

“They're a big chunk of our campaign. They do a wonderful job,” said Laura Hailey with the Tulsa Area United Way.

Hailey says Williams has also been their cornerstone – donating nearly $50 million to Tulsans in need in the past twenty years. Much of that money came straight from its employees.

“Last year even beginning in the midst of this crisis, you still had employees giving so generously,” she said. “They still donated over $1.3 million.”

Hailey says that translates to thousands of meals and assistance to non-profits across the region. While employees continue to give back, city leaders vow to make sure Williams still calls Tulsa home.

“We're going to support these employees. We're going to support this company, and we will do everything we can to convey our message,” said Neal.

If shareholders turn down the proposal and keep Williams in Tulsa, they still face a rocky future that includes paying penalties to ETE and facing declining oil prices. That vote is slated to happen in April.


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