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AJF News

Economic Development in Ada: Ada Jobs Foundation's Role

1/18/2022 by Jessika Leatherbury
Tags: Ada Jobs Foundation, proposition 2, City of Ada, Economic Development

The Ada Jobs Foundation is coming to a critical point. We are a non-profit economic development organization that has been serving the Ada Community and Pontotoc County area since 1998. We help businesses grow and expand in our community by providing support, technical assistance, and incentives. This economic growth helps our community thrive by providing a larger tax base and a diverse and resilient economy.

However, we recognize that economic development can be difficult to understand and many people are unaware of what we do as an economic development organization or how our work positively impacts the lives of everyone living in the Ada-area. As a way of creating more awareness over the next few weeks, we plan to publish a series of articles and data points that provide an overview of our key programs and services. This approach can function as a kind of crash course in economic development Ada and we begin this series by explaining the history and function of the Ada Jobs Foundation. 

History

The Ada Jobs Foundation was formed in 1998 after several major manufacturing plan closings in the region during the 1990’s with a goal to create new economic development through the creation of “quality” or high-paying jobs. We are organized as a 501(c)3 non-profit and we are accredited by our peers through the International Economic Development Council. We approach our work to economic development by helping exporting companies grow through the creation of new, quality jobs. 


Areas of Work 

We work in several key areas to accomplish this goal, including:

  • Local Business Retention and Expansion: 

We support local companies in exporting sectors to grow, expand, and continue investing in our community. We do this through company visits, surveys, market research, and through making connections to key partners. We offer several incentive programs for local companies, including our local Quality Jobs incentive program and our Business Expansion Grant program. Workforce development efforts are a key part of this support and we will highlight some of our recent work in this area next week.


  • Rural Innovation: 

Ada is a community that has long supported local entrepreneurs, and we have a series of programs to support entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and the digital economy to grow in Ada. We are a member of the Rural Innovation Network, a national network of 25 rural communities who are also supporting technology entrepreneurship and digital economy initiatives. The Ada Jobs Foundation was awarded a Build to Scale grant by the EDA in 2021 and this grant will allow us to create a scalable technology startup ecosystem and accelerator over the next 3 years. More information about these efforts will be provided over the course of the next week.


  • Community Development: 

We recognize that a strong community is a critical foundation for a health and resilient economy. We approach community development initiatives by providing programs, grants, and technical support and research to community partners. We partner with Ada Main Street and the City of Ada to carry out the Ada Business Improvement Grant, a program that has created over $430,000 of new investment in downtown Ada. We are currently researching Ada’s housing market to create a roadmap for a new housing initiative and we are exploring ways to expand Ada’s infrastructure with new sources of funding. We will provide more detail on these efforts over the next several weeks.


Export Industry Focus

Our organization is different from a Chamber of Commerce or a Main Street organization in that we are working to create a stronger local economy by focusing primarily on companies that primarily export products and services outside of our region. This is a small, but critical, part of our local economy that is the primary way in which new dollars come into our region. Export companies pay their workers who spend their money at locally oriented businesses and services, such as restaurants, retailers, and banks. The sales taxes collected from these transactions go to support important public infrastructure and services, such as water, roads, and public safety. 


Contract with the City of Ada and Proposition 2

We strongly promote local partnerships to carry out this work and our relationship with the City of Ada is critical to this work. We contract with the City of Ada to carry out these public services. The City of Ada provides funding to our organization through the Proposition 2 sales tax and we match this funding with annual organization membership funding from other public and private partners. As part of our partnership with the City, we provide annual 3rd party financial audits, recommendations from our volunteer board of directors, technical assistance to City staff and officials, and regular updates and communication about our work. 


The Takeaway

Economic Development is critical to support Ada’s economy. It helps Ada’s economy grow, become more resilient to shocks, and provides key tools and support to business. The Ada Jobs Foundation is working to carry out programs that support economic development in our community that will lead to a greater quality of life. We will spend the next three weeks going deep into how our programs create positive economic outcomes for our businesses and our communities and we ask that anyone reading this look out for these stories and share them with your networks. We are excited about the work we have planned for the coming year, and we’re passionate about helping Ada thrive in 2022 and beyond.