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AJF News

Ada Economy Still Growing (Journal Record)

8/22/2016 by Jessika Leatherbury
Tags: Journal Record, economy, Michael Southard

Ada economy still growing

The amphitheater at Wintersmith Park in Ada was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. (Courtesy photo)

The amphitheater at Wintersmith Park in Ada was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. (Courtesy photo)


ADA – Ada appears to be avoiding some of the statewide economic contraction from the oil and gas downturn.

Ada’s sales tax collections for the fiscal year ended July totaled $15.3 million, up 1.1 percent from the previous fiscal year. The increase for Ada is in contrast to the 4.5-percent decrease in sales tax receipts reported for the fiscal year by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services for the state.

“Ada’s retail sales tax collections have seen four consecutive record fiscal years since the Ada City Council tasked the Ada Jobs Foundation with stimulating the retail economy,” said Michael Southard, president and CEO of the Ada Jobs Foundation.

The nonprofit Ada Jobs Foundation has a contract with the city of Ada to promote economic development.

Ada Jobs was approved by the city’s voters in 1998. The voters approved a five-year, 0.25-percent sales tax allocated for economic development to fund Ada Jobs.

“The sales tax has been renewed three times for five years each time,” Southard said.

Ada has been growing.

“We have about $200 million in public projects that have either been recently completed or are planned,” he said. “We have had another $200 million in private investment in the last several years.”

The Ada Jobs Foundation was recently assigned a new task.

“City Council has asked my office to pivot a bit from traditional economic development to get involved in housing,” Southard said.

Voters approved a 1-percent sales tax increase in January 2015 for eight years to finance several projects. The projects include $2 million allocated for a workforce housing program.

“You have to have housing available when recruiting people to work in Ada,” he said.

The projects also include two swimming pools, a new senior citizens center, a sports complex expansion and rehabilitation of a historic amphitheater.

The amphitheater is in the 150-acre Wintersmith Park, which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

The amphitheater was built in 1934 from natural stone from the area. CCC stonemasons took three months to construct the amphitheater.

Southard has been with Ada Jobs for nine years. A 1991 University of Oklahoma graduate, he spent 10 years in community development in Shawnee and Muskogee and three years as a city planner in Oklahoma City.