Jenks America. A big name for a place that still has a small-town feel. But the new Oklahoma Aquarium opens March 1st. And as News on Six business reporter Steve Berg tells us, this quintessential bedroom community may be a sleeping giant.
Theyâ€™re filling the tanks at the aquarium. Now they want to fill the town with visitors. "This is definitely a turning point for us." Chamber of Commerce Director Ruth Littlefield says they've already started fishing for new business. "We hope for restaurants that people will come down, come to the aquarium and spend more time, dine, y'know we envision a lot of things, a boardwalk, that kind of thing."
In fact, after all these years, in 2003, Jenks is getting its very first hotel, right next to the aquarium. "First hotel in Jenks city limits, that's correct, it will be a four-story, 82 room hotel, hope to break ground any day now."
While they don't know how much new business will come in because of the aquarium, they know the existing businesses are very excited. Lydia Thomas, Market Treasure's Antiques, "everybody will get to see what Jenks is like thereâ€™s a lot of Tulsans that don't come through Jenks to really check it out."
Cristi Burke, LJ Sweets, "It reminds people of Eureka Springs. So they like to come down and walk the shops, and we swing the front door open and all they can smell is candy and popcorn, so they're going to come this way.â€
Just across the way, on the Tulsa side of the river, business is already booming, with more places, like an Outback Steakhouse on the way. Jenks hopes they can feed on that and lure in some more of its own.
The Jenks Chamber says traffic on the nearby Creek Turnpike is greater than expected, so that bodes well. And they say this past year set a record for homebuilding in town.