Tulsa high tech city

Tuesday, April 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Williams helped turn Tulsa from an oil town to a technology town. This week, Newsweek magazine is calling Tulsa a new brand of tech city. Newsweek's list only has nine cities from around the entire world.

A big reason Tulsa made it is because the local economy successfully went from an oil bust to a technology boom. Take Hank Hubler, President of HQ Technology Group, his company is doing so well, he has to be a hands on boss. "I'd like to work a little less, been working a lot on weekends to stay caught up." More than 13% of all jobs in Tulsa are high tech, that's more than 54,000 workers, and a big reason why Newsweek is calling Tulsa one of nine, in the entire world, of a new brand of tech cities.

Newsweek applauds Williams for running fiber optic cable through old pipelines. Williams Communications is building a new high-rise downtown, and expects to have more than 5,000 employees in five years. Just four years ago, their communications wing had about 200 employees. Tulsa's high tech helps Hubler find and re-train employees.

Several schools in Tulsa are teaching high tech classes, in the past Hubler's company had to leave town to find employees or training centers. "The better trained employee provides better service." Dewey Bartlett Jr's, grandfather came to Tulsa in the early 1900's when oil was gold. The company is still around. When the bust came in the 80's, tens of thousands of workers lost jobs, Oklahoma had 1,200 oilrigs then, today there are about 140. Bartlett hopes Tulsa doesn't rely on its growth, solely on the technology boom. "The oil and gas business slowed down, what's our backup, we don't have one, whoops. So we now got high tech which is going great, a lot of smart people but happens if something does happen?"

Tulsa Chamber President Jay Clemens says Tulsa's technology sector is much more diverse. "We are not going to get hit by one thing that takes us down, some segments may be hurt by the economy going one way or the other, but it is diverse." Another way this Newsweek article helps, the chamber says, is many people around the country will realize Tulsa is much more than oil.