National meeting for economic developers in 2022 a huge win for OKC

Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2021 By: Chamber Staff Source: VeloCity Newsletter

The Oklahoma City Convention Center is quickly approaching its first birthday, and it has already landed a major economic development conference for 2022 that Chamber officials say could be a springboard to more large meetings at the state-of-the-art conference.

The International Economic Development Council, considered as the premiere industry association for economic developers around the world, recently selected Oklahoma City as the site for its 2022 annual conference Sept. 18-21. The announcement came after a long courtship between IEDC and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber; Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, a division of the OKC Chamber; and additional partners, including the City of Oklahoma City and other public-private entities statewide.

During this year’s IEDC annual conference recently held in Nashville, Chamber and CVB officials met with both IEDC officials and meeting attendees.

“A lot of our mission there was to be engaged with the leadership of the organization but also the general attendees to make sure they knew Oklahoma City was coming up and to tell our story and outlay our plans for the 2022 event,” said Jeff Seymour, Chamber executive vice president of economic development.

Past IEDC annual conferences have been held in other large metros, including Atlanta and Toronto, Canada. The 2023 conference is planned for Dallas. To be selected among those peer cities signals that Oklahoma City is a high-caliber community and economic development destination, Seymour said.

“This is an opportunity for not only Oklahoma City but the Oklahoma City region – and really our partners statewide – to tell Oklahoma’s story through the auspices of a conference.”

One of the requirements Oklahoma City had to fulfill as part of the application process to serve as an IEDC host city was to develop a theme for the event. The theme, “Turn Disruption into Innovation and Opportunity,” was one the Chamber, CVB and their partners readily agreed was Oklahoma’s story.

“If you think back historically where our state has been – the tribal nations turning their own disruptions into opportunities here, statehood – these components here that work together, and the same around our sub-themes as well, which are economic reinvention, disaster and resiliency, and community innovation, all with the lens of being more diverse and inclusive in our efforts. A lot of what we want to talk about in 2022 ties into that larger theme,” Seymour said.

CVB President Zac Craig stressed the importance of attending IEDC annual meetings, especially the 2021 event in Nashville, where Chamber and CVB staff got the chance to visit with not only IEDC leadership but also with the more than 1,200 attendees that consisted of economic developers, national chambers of commerce and national and international industry thought leaders.

“To put the spotlight on Oklahoma City with that caliber of an audience and showcase to them what we distinctly do best that many people can’t duplicate, it’s really going to be an incredible week of activity here in Oklahoma City,” Craig said.

How Oklahoma City defines its own future and how it collaborates together with numerous stakeholders are two attributes that are attractive to organizations like IEDC, Craig said.

“The way we do business here and collaborate together so that Oklahoma City rises up, it’s like no other city. And that is very attractive to that audience,” he said.

One thing that really impressed Seymour about IEDC was they approached Oklahoma City first regarding hosting the 2021 event, which he says speaks volumes of the hard work that has gone into transforming the city into a convention and tourism destination. He said IEDC leadership specifically mentioned the tremendous investments the city and its resident have recently made in the convention center, the Omni Hotel, Scissortail Park and the First Americans Museum, just to name a few.

“Approaching us to host the 2022 event is an even higher-caliber accomplishment than us bidding on it,” Seymour commented. “That, in and of itself, is a huge win. I think what they recognized was our ability to host a large conversation in a community that really does economic development well.”

Craig echoed those same sentiments.

“Here is the exciting thing: we’re not looking back. With MAPS 4 and so many other wonderful new assets on the horizon, not only for visitors but also for our residents, the trajectory of our city is true north. I can’t be more thrilled about the future of Oklahoma City,” he said.

This story originally appeared in the November 2021 edition of the VeloCity newsletter.

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