Those wishing some of Owasso’s recent retail development had been closer to Claremore might be getting their wish this year.
Tuesday night, Claremore City Councilors unanimously approved an $80,000 contract with the former Owasso economic developer Rickey Hayes to put his talents to work for the City of Claremore.
“Several months ago, the Council made a decision that we were wanting to be more involved in economic development, with a greater focus on retail than there had been in the recent past,” said Troy Powell, Claremore City Manager. “Our first step towards that ends was to find someone who could help us to accomplish that, and we have done so with Rickey (Hayes).”
For the past seven years, Hayes has worked for the City of Owasso, being instrumental in assisting that city with its own retail development — sometimes, at the envy of Rogers County residents.
“Of course, no one person can take (full) credit for anything that happens in a municipality because of all the factors that go into making a community grow and how it develops,” Powell said, “but Rickey was certainly an integral part of the retail growth experienced by Owasso.”
With Hayes, Powell said the City would develop a “mutually beneficial” relationship, similar to that with City Attorney Randy Elliott and Steve Lett of Tri-State Engineering.
“Instead of hiring Mr. Hayes full-time as an employee (of the City), we will be working with him on a contract basis,” Powell said. “We’ve actually found this to be more beneficial as it seems we can get professionals of a slightly higher caliber than one with whom we’re their only client.
“Also, should the relationship not work out for either party, it’s much easier to get out of (contract basis) than a traditional employer/employee relationship,” he said.
Previously, retail development within the City fell under CIEDA’s umbrella, but with recent revisions to the CIEDA contract, the City opted to pursue aggressive retail development through an independent contractor.
“Rickey’s given his formal resignation notice to the City of Owasso, and he’s finishing his final weeks there,” Powell said. “He should be starting with us later this month.
“I will say that right off the bat, he’s going to be working with us on an aggressive marketing plan for the community, to help market Claremore to national retailers,” he said. “That’s going to be his first task with us, and I’m looking forward to him being here — he’s a perfect fit for Claremore.
“Between CIEDA and what the Council is doing to address retail development with Mr. Hayes, Claremore will be a force to be reckoned with, in the region if not the state, in terms of economic development,” Powell said.