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Interview with David Myers - Rural Development

We visit with David Myers, Executive Director of the Ponca City Development Authority, about what Ponca City is doing to increase their workforce.
Interview with David Myers - Rural Development

David Myers

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Ponca City Development Authority

Show Dates

Show 0849: Interview with David Myers - Rural Development

Air date: December 7, 2009

 

Transcript

Rob:  Joining me now is the executive director of the Ponca City Development Authority, David Myers.  So David, how does a rural community, like Ponca City, how does it compete in a global economy?

David Myers:  Well the first step, Rob, is to understand that we are in a global economy.  And that is different than we were certainly 10, 20 years ago today.  Things are done differently.  It sounds like a cliché to say that, but that requires you to act differently.  This is not a situation or economic environment where you simply can go out and steal a company from one town and move it to another town; that hasn’t benefitted the country, to be sure our regions absolutely, or even the towns to which those jobs were made.  What you have to do is really understand where the economy is going within our country, within the world, within the global context, and train your people, not only workforce training, but also your bankers, your accountants, you business infrastructure, your school systems to align, and to make sure that everybody within a community is moving in the same direction, you have consensus for that.  Typically the way it has happened in the past is everybody’s thought, well we’ve lost a company, let’s go replace them.  And the, really the best way for smaller communities to compete in this global environment is to connect with the resources that we have so much of here in Oklahoma, so that they can have the tools, truly, to make themselves competitive.

Rob:  So, it sounds like maybe workforce development may be the new economic development.

Myers:  There’s no question about it.  They are seamless, or at least they should be, and we’ve seen them grow together quite a bit over the past couple of years.  I’ve been doing this now for about 16 years, and I will tell you the first question everybody always asks, and when I say everybody, I mean it’s a company that was in my town that’s coming, that’s interested in my town, the first question they want to know is who is my workforce, what can they do, what are their skills, and can they adapt to my changing environment, because those companies know that what they’re doing today is not necessarily going to be what they’re doing tomorrow.

Rob:  And just watching Russell’s story, it really is apparent how important partnering with other organizations be, whether it be education or whether it be industry.

Myers:  You have to decide whether or not you want to survive.  And it really is that basic in today’s environment.  I’m not just talking about communities like Ponca City.  I’m talking about Oklahoma City, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles; you have to decide if you want to survive.  If you truly want to survive, and you’re serious about it; the only way to do that, in a global marketplace like we are now, is partnering with the same people that have the same vested interest that you do.  For example in Ponca City, Pioneer Technology Center is our career and technical training center.  They exist to serve our students.  They have the same mission as we do.  The global economy does not tolerate inefficiencies; and for us to do one thing, and for Pioneer Technology Center to do another thing, and the school system to do another thing, and in fact our business community to be going in a different direction, that’s inefficient, and the global economy will eliminate that.

Rob:  Well, definitely some interesting times, and it sounds like not only will the smart survive, they may well prosper.

Myers:  No question about it.  In any environment like this where you’ve got almost chaos, and I’m talking about not necessarily the stock market fall of 2008, I’m talking about the quickly changing global economy.  You’ve got a tremendous amount of opportunity.  And it’s a good time for communities as well as for individuals to grab the opportunities that are out there.  And to do that, not only the connectivity that we talked about, understanding whatever those opportunities are, and you’ve got to do that by looking ahead, not behind.  Too many times as communities, and too many times as individuals, we tend to play defense and try to protect that which is ours.  What we really need to be doing is try to get to the future before the future does, so that we’re there and poised and positioned and ready for the opportunities that the future’s going to bring to us.  And there’s lots of evidence out there, and lots of signposts about where the economy is going, we just have to be willing to work, and willing to partner, and will to share, so that we can get there together, rather than individually.

Rob:  Well, good job up in Ponca City, and some great points I think we all can take away from here.

Myers:  Thank you, Rob.