Downtown Oklahoma City group envisions growth

Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 7:00 am By: STEVE LACKMEYER

The Oklahoman

Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. is reorganizing its staff as it enters a second decade as operator of the downtown business improvement district.

The district is funded through assessments paid by property owners and was created 10 years ago as a way to pay for marketing, street maintenance and event promotion.

"As we look forward to downtown's planned growth, we needed a revised blueprint to meet these new needs," said Jane Jenkins, who was hired as president of the organization in March 2009. "Now is the time to adjust our structure and services to further complement the city and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber's economic development plans."

Jenkins said the reorganization was in response to a series of strategic planning meetings involving more than 200 downtown residents, business and property owners.

Part of the reorganization calls for the elimination of two positions: marketing director and events director, and creation of three new positions - vice president of marketing and business development; marketing and events coordinator; and research and data coordinator.

Jenkins said details about how the restructuring will affect current staff will be announced at a later date.

The new development business center will support small businesses within the retail and office markets and provide stronger support to investors and developers as downtown continues to grow, Jenkins said.

She added Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. will seek to encourage infill development and investment by becoming a "portal" for marketing information, relocation assistance and recruiting.

Jenkins said the organization is seeking to hire someone with a "solid understanding of real estate" who will help provide tailored market and economic data on downtown to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. She also wants to see policies developed that would make moving downtown easier.

New priorities, meanwhile, are being set for two current positions - business improvement district services and event marketing.

Jenkins said the new priorities will include streetscape enhancements, residential constituency projects, homelessness and panhandling, all needs cited by respondents surveyed by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.

Jenkins cited Downtown in December as the organization's "marquee event" and added she wants to see at least one more developed over the next couple of years. She said Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. will become a nonprofit events production company that will apply for grants, conduct fundraising and produce all downtown events.

"To accommodate our new community development role, it resulted in restructuring the special events and marketing area to better integrate with the work plan and creating three new positions," said Jenkins. "We will be seeking applicants nationwide who have downtown development and marketing experience and want to be a part of Oklahoma City's exciting future."

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