City Of Tulsa Focuses On Growing Retail Economy

Monday, December 2nd 2019, 6:04 pm
By: Erick Payne

Tulsa's leaders released a report on the retail economy throughout the city. They're trying to develop strategies for success in several areas.

City leaders are looking at the strengths and weaknesses of 13 different key areas of town. They say these 13 areas will help guide how the city moves forward.

It's no surprise the retail industry has seen drastic changes, especially in northeast Oklahoma. 

Tulsa grew by nearly 6 percent in the last two decades, but retail sales were about $7 billion in 2017 when adjusted for inflation. That's $291 million less than in 1998.

There are several reasons for the drop, including internet sales, income, the age of shoppers and the recession.

"Tulsa is facing the same trends we're seeing nationally," said Tulsa's Chief of Economic Development Kian Kamas.

But there's a plan to buck the trend. Kamas says their goal is to build off the successes of key areas in Tulsa. Those spots include the 71st Street Corridor, Pine and Peoria and the International District near 21st and Garnett.

The study is focusing on ways to boost development and spur the economy around transit in town, including the new Aero bus line.

Kamas said they also want to give more tools to companies and support small businesses.

"Tulsans very clearly told us they like and want to see more vibrant local shopping and commercial centers," Kamas said.

It means having more areas like Cherry Street and Brookside, which were designed for shoppers to walk around.

Kamas says places like downtown, Route 66 and the Pearl District could all have a similar vibe.

The city is working on finalizing some policy details for new programs in some of these areas. They're aimed at businesses but would also help Tulsa grow as a whole.

"We intend to launch a majority of these programs in January, which means that people could start applying to those programs to see if they could benefit their retail or commercial business," Kamas said.

If you want to read the nearly 250-page study, you can read it here.