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Resident Publishes Book Highlighting Owasso Growth


Owasso resident and former Owasso Director of Economic Development Rickey Hayes recently published a book exploring cities’ economic processes, including the City of Owasso.

Hayes, who spent six years with the City of Owasso, published City on a Hill: A Book About Cities and How to Make Them Better in fall 2016.

During his time working for the City of Owasso, from 2001 to 2007, Hayes was involved in bringing Home Depot, Target and six million square feet of other national tenants in retail development that followed. 

After leaving the City of Owasso, Hayes began working as an economic development consultant in 2008 and started his company Retail Attractions. Since then, he has worked in over 370 different cities in 37 states. 

“My motivation for the book was to broaden my readers’horizons to see that by a planned course of action they can play a role in changing something as big as a city,” he says. 

In the book, Hayes takes the reader through the economic development process and includes personal experiences working with Owasso and other cities. 

City on a Hill uses Owasso as a test case example of a city that did economic development right; Hayes gives evidence of the importance of relationships, patience, data and marketing as key elements of successful cities. 

Hayes largely credits former Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray as the catalyst of the city’s retail explosion.

“His vision for Owasso was so enormous, most people on the outside would have said that it’s not plausible to achieve everything that he wanted,” says Hayes. 

Ray’s efforts involved three things: developing a vision for the future of the city, building a consensus and uniting the group on the vision, and maintaining momentum to push forward and “make good great,” Hayes says. 

In 2001, when Hayes joined the City of Owasso, the population was around 14,000. Since then, that number has grown to over 35,000. 

“Owasso’s geography lends itself to being a bedroom community, and with the city’s budgets coming largely from sales tax revenue,” says Hayes, “city leaders decided to focus on developing retail.”

The first big catch was Home Depot, with the help of an incentive package, in 2002. 

Because of connections from that deal, city leaders later met with Target, which led to the retailer coming to town in 2004. That, in turn, brought thousands of square feet of additional retailers, including Best Buy, Olive Garden, JCPenney and others. 

“All of these retailers caused our city budget to triple; we saw residential growth, the entrance of two hospitals, improvements to the school district. 

“It’s all about changing cities for the better. To me, that’s what this job is and that’s what this book is about, helping communities change in a positive way,” says Hayes.

City on a Hill: A Book About Cities and How to Make Them Better is available on Amazon.

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