Jeri Koehler, director of Rogers State University Innovation Center, spoke to the Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
Koehler talked about her work fostering entrepreneurs, specifically the Claremore Main Street program and about how excited she is to have that program come to Pryor. Koehler said the innovation center has a business intelligence research analyst that does market research. She said if someone wanted to open a donut shop in Pryor, the researcher at RSU would look into how many donuts are sold per year in Pryor, and how much of that amount is in each group.
She said she had a woman who came to her wanting to open a restaurant in Claremore. Koehler said the innovation center figured how many times a day this woman would have to turn over her tables to new customers just to break even.
“We are not trying to discourage business, but we definitely want to make sure our entrepreneurs have the data they need so that they are not hurting later down the road,” Koehler said.
Koehler said she encourages entrepreneurs to “spar with others,” meaning she wants them to go talk to others who are in the same business and ask for advice.
Koehler said potential business owners should do a beta test on an idea to find out if there is any interest.
Once a beta test has been done, the presentation should be made to a banker or potential business partner. She described her work as helping navigate the process for a potential entrepreneur.
Raymond Simpson spoke about his plans to reopen the Allred Theater. Simpson worked in the Allred since high school. His father worked for the theater and his grandfather sold equipment to the Oliver family when they purchased the Allred in 1964.
After Simpson graduated from high school, he continued to work for the theater when he was home for Christmas. Simpson earned a scholarship to Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.
Simpson said thought the theater was upgraded with digital projectors, the recession has effected the theater, which is now closed.
“I think it’s paramount the theater reopens,” Simpson said.
He said when the movie “Twilight” came out, the Allred had a midnight screening and movie goers were lined up by six that evening. Simpson said the Allred has helped bring businesses down town. He began the Allred Theater Investment Group, L.L.C. and is encouraging investors at a $1,000 minimum. He has a Facebook page called Reopen the Allred Theater.