“Infrastructure in Northeast Oklahoma provides opportunity for investment and job creation through resources and innovative technologies; readily available utilities with an emphasis on renewable energy; accessible transportation venues for business/industry; citizens and travelers; extensive emergency services; and green standards for infrastructure development.”
Infrastructure expansion in our Region will allow us to fully support current systems and future growth. The southern part of the Region has significant transportation infrastructure, including highway, rail, water, and quick access to air. An expanded regional viewpoint should result in transportation collaborations and increased utilization of existing resources. As the internet and modern transportation has shifted state and national economies to more global economies, a digital divide continues to exist in many of the Region’s more rural areas and alternative access is cost prohibitive.
The Region has valuable natural resources that must be balanced with the needs of the infrastructure; as we enter into growth mode, we must remain conscientious about balancing our ecosystem with growth. Infrastructure discussions focused on a wide range of topics based on current needs and future growth. The infrastructure discussions included transportation, technology, and utilities, as well as parks and recreation, financial services, community services, and economic development.
Five central themes emerged:
1) master planning for the Region,
2) developing parks and recreational areas,
3) improving transportation venues, access to utilities, and upgrading technology,
4) increasing access for citizens to financial services and community services, and
5) supporting economic development.
Community deliberations regarding the themes brought forth four results:
1. Affordable Broadband Communications in all Communities – both a development plan and financing plan to make this a reality.
2. Established Emergency Services to all Communities – many of the smaller communities and towns do not have the tax base or facilities to operate emergency services, particularly medical emergency services.
3. Affordable Utilities in all Rural Areas – certain areas in the Region do not have access to natural gas and water. Affordable utilities are critical to housing and economic development.
4. Adequate, Safe, and Travelable Roads – outside of towns and organized communities, safe roadways continue to be an issue, which hampers citizen travel for services and jobs.