The Pryor Times

February 13, 2013

Stewart has four-step plan for MAIP

Cydney Baron
Staff Reporter

PRYOR — Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce invited local pillars of the community to hear MidAmerica Industrial Park Chief Administrator David Stewart speak about his new position. Community members came prepared with some tough questions.

Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Stewart as chief administrative officer of the Oklahoma Ordinance Works Authority, which operates the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor. Stewart succeeded Sanders Mitchell, who held the position for 35 years before retiring.

Meredith Frailey, Cherokee Nation council member, introduced Stewart.

“I’ve known David Stewart for 10 years and nothing has changed. He is a man of detail. He is the most fascinating businessman I know.”

Frailey talked about Stewart’s credentials, which include a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University, work as a certified public accountant, dozens of boards and committees and years of service with Cherokee Nation.

She described him as energetic, intelligent and said he always has a long-term plan.

Stewart said he was born in Las Vegas, but grew up in Sallisaw. His father was a two-time state representative.

“Governor Fallin appointed me to this position, and it’s a life time position. So it’s a big deal. She told me ‘it’s hard for me not to appoint you, you had so many letters of recommendation. One was from your wife, and she’s ready for you to go back to work.’ So here I am,” said Stewart.

The overall theme of Stewart’s speech was, “Why MidAmerica Industrial Park?”

“First, we have low cost, high quality water. In today’s landscape, clean water is a huge asset. It can drive industry and spur economic development. We have the ability to produce 50 million gallons a day,” said Stewart.

He addressed establishing public trust.

“We need to show people that we are stable. When companies come in, the deals are made with people. It is the ability to shake hands with people that makes deals,” said Stewart. “Why MidAmerica? We have the ability to expedite decisions. It’s a fast, easy process.”

Stewart outlined how crucial it is to provide incentives for businesses to move into the Industrial park.

He outlined his four-step plan for the park.

Stewart’s first step is to align resources.

“With the economy challenges, we need to have everyone at the table. You’re town is great, but if people come in and Main Street is trashed, they won’t move their business here. I’m glad to see you’re a proactive community.”

Step two explained the need for partnerships. Stewart said Gov. Fallin is pro job, and pro job creation, which means the project has support from the state. He suggested Tulsa resources be used more heavily.

“An aggressive marketing strategy is the third step. It’s hard to market a park when you’re just a park. I’m working on an aggressive strategy, which includes working with local and state government,” said Stewart.

The final step is to be creative and “push resources in a direction that will make things happen.”

Stewart then opened the floor for questions.

“What do you think about the rumors that this region is becoming silicon prairie? What are you going to do to bolster our status as a regional IT Mecca?”

Stewart answered that he is going to look at what kind of businesses will thrive here.

“What synergy do we have that would make it the silicon prairie? Essentially I don’t know what I think about that. We’re just looking to see what kind of business we can support,” said Stewart.

The next citizen asked if there are other industries interested in coming to the park.

“I’ve only been in this position for 30 days, so I’m not certain yet.”

Another question concerned the Gatorade building, a large facility which is empty.

“There has been some activity that I can’t talk about today.”

This answer resulted in laughter and shouts of “we’ve heard that before.”

The question of alternative energy arose.

“It is a question of cost, really. If companies want to pay for green energy, they can. Right now, GRDA is the most affordable energy option,” Stewart said.

Stewart was asked if there is anything lacking in the park that he is trying to bring in. Stewart said he is not sure.

“I’m not that far into the analysis yet. We want to emphasize the quality of life around the park first,” said Stewart.

He said towns become successful when they take an independent look at their community.

The final question was about the bottom line, the over all goal, of the park.

“I don’t have the mission statement nailed down yet,” said Stewart. “Essentially we want to benefit Oklahoma with things like economic development and job growth.”