Business owners in downtown’s Blue Dome District formed the Blue Dome Association, a merchants organization aimed at turning the area into Tulsa’s go-to destination for entertainment.
“We are combining our resources and making a concerted effort to promote our area as a whole,” said Joe Momma’s Pizza owner Blake Ewing.
Ewing said the association has its eye on several big events in the coming year, the first of which will be a Mardi Gras celebration.
“We really want to be an entertainment district with big promotional events,” he said. “If we do this right, we can make a statement that the Blue Dome is Tulsa’s main place to come for entertainment.”
The association also positions area merchants to take better advantage of its existence as a TIF district.
“What that means is that part of the sales tax generated by us is allocated for reinvestment in the neighborhood,” Ewing said. “Now we are in a better position to better allocate those funds to beautify and differentiate the district.”
Ewing said the association meets once a month and is working on a Web site.
StreetMavens Up for International Online Award
StreetMavens, a Tulsa-based social networking and real-time city guide Web site founded by Matt Swezey, is one of the five finalists in the category “Best Local News Site” in this year’s Mashable Open Web Awards.
Mashable’s social media news blog sponsors the international awards, which recognize innovations and achievements in technology and social media.
People can vote for the awards through Dec. 13 via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Each person is allowed to vote once per day.
A direct link to vote for the awards is http://tinyurl.com/yhx2rev. Learn more at www.mashable.com.
SBA Funds Exhausted
The federal stimulus funds for the Small Business Administration’s largest loan programs ran out at the end of November, and hundreds of businesses have already lined up in the new Recovery Loan Queue to wait for loans that hinge on additional funds being approved by Congress.
It is no surprise funds couldn’t meet the demand, said Bob Boyd, founder and president of Tulsa-based Boston Street Advisors, 20 E. Fifth St. Boyd has more than 25 years experience in the areas of capital formation, international finance and investment banking. He serves on the National Advisory Council of the SBA.
“Banks are pulling back their loans as has been documented in many ways, so this effectively turns small businesses to the SBA, increasing demand for funding from the SBA,” he said. “Couple this with the SBA taking on many activities outside the business universe and making personal loans during the aftermath of (Hurricane) Katrina, etc., and the agency becomes spread thin and loses its focus on its mission, which is serving small business.”
With the huge debt the government is running, it is doubtful there will be enough funds to satisfy the demand on the SBA going forward through the ongoing repricing of credit and the pullback of the banks, Boyd said.
“Banks are basically moving to the risk-free money of borrowing at the Fed window for free and then parking the funds in treasury bonds to help maintain capital requirements,” he said.
Unfortunately, small businesses may have to look at a new paradigm in the funding which will most likely result in slower expansion of their businesses and delay any meaningful recovery for a few years, Boyd said.
Cup of Coffee Networkers Turns 1-Year-Old
The area Cup of Coffee Networkers turns 1-year-old, and the founder, Joe Sting of Sting Investigations, is delighted with the progress the networking groups have flourished. There are 761 members in total.
“The 750 members in the first year is not bad,” Sting said in an e-mail marking the occasion. “With this being free, and so powerful, I think we should have 7,500 members.”
After a year, Sting said the free networking group is only limited in growth potential by the number of people that know about it.
“Since it is 100-percent free and it is working for people to improve their businesses, it should be 10 times larger,” he said.
The Cup of Coffee Networkers’ Web site is eight months old, and the group promotes events like the Chocolate and Blues Festival series, which plans to be in 20 cities nationwide in 2010.
“We are considering putting on our own trade show sometime in the next six months for our members,” Sting said.
The group has members from different areas of the world, Sting said, but the majority -— more than 400 of the 761 members — live in the Tulsa metro.
Celebrating the City, One Letter at a Time
Jack Frank Productions recently released the latest in a series of Tulsa-centric films. “Tulsa A to Z” debuted last week on KOTV Channel 6 and OETA.
The film aims to illustrate “what makes Tulsa so special” by listing 26 of the city’s highlights — in alphabetical order. The show begins with a look at the Admiral Twin drive-in theater and ends with a story of racing legend Jack Zink (for more on him, turn to page 20).
In between, Frank touches on the city’s history and its charms, stopping in at sites such as Nelson’s, the White River Fish Market and University Club Tower (Tulsa Business Journal’s own Ryan Daly is interviewed in the film), and exploring figures like Tate Brady and Bill Skelly.
The show also looks at Route 66 icons, such as the Meadowgold sign and the old 11th Street bridge. Also featured are the Golden Driller, IPE Building, Perryman Cemetary, Creek Council Oak Tree and the Old Lady on Brady.
“In the dail rush, we sometimes forget to appreciate the great things around us,” Frank said. “So we wanted to highlight something for every letter of the alphabet. And one of the best parts of the show is all the people who who talked to us about what makes Tulsa the terrific city it is.”
“Tulsa A to Z” is available for purchase on DVD at www.tulsafilms.com, SpiritBank locations, QuikTrip stores, Border’s Books and Music, Steve’s Sundry, Tulsa Treasures and Dwelling Spaces.
IHOP to Open Sand Springs Restaurant
Sand Springs residents will soon be able to “Come Hungry, Leave Happy” when IHOP opens the doors of a Sand Springs restaurant next year.
Officials with IHOP announced they are planning to open their next restaurant location in the Tulsa area at Highway 97 and the Sand Springs Expressway. The IHOP property will take in a portion of the Keystone Corridor redevelopment at Pecan Street.
Owned and operated by franchisee Rima Hakim, the restaurant is expected to open for business by June 2010.
“Our citizens have craved more dining opportunities, and many hours of good work have gone into making IHOP happen here,” said Mayor Bob Walker.
He said the restaurant announcement is the start of continuing redevelopment opportunities coming to the area.
“Our efforts to transform Sand Springs are continuing. Even with the economic downturn, there is still plenty of interest and excitement in our community and its future as a commercial center,” he said.
Plans are for the restaurant to be open regular hours during the week, but 24 hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Hakim said the restaurant will employ around 60 people – mostly from the Sand Springs area.
Roy Brashears with Orion Realty Advisors LLC, who represents the IHOP franchisee in the area, worked with the City to plan the IHOP site.
The city received $14.5 million in Tulsa County Vision 2025 funds to revitalize the Keystone Corridor redevelopment area by purchasing and removing blighted buildings, and relocating residents and businesses.
Special Ranger Arrests Man for Craigslist Theft
A Missouri man was arrested by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger John Cummings on one count of larceny after he failed to produce a corral system he sold to a Stillwell rancher on Craigslist.
The corral system was advertised for $7,600. The rancher had sent a 50 percent deposit.
John Paul Knudsen, 35, was charged and arrested Nov. 23. At the time of his arrest he was in jail in Braymer, Mo., for unrelated charges.
If convicted, Knudsen could face up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine or restitution. Cummings was assisted by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri and the Adair County Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma.
“Most people typically think of cattle theft when they hear of agriculture crimes,” Cummings said. “However, in this day and age, ag crimes come in all forms. With the Internet being a successful way to buy and sell ranching equipment, there really is no ground that thieves haven’t covered. TSCRA Special Rangers can help with all kinds of agriculture crimes, including those that happen online.”
TSCRA has 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement.
Study Shows Marketing Oklahoma Pays
The Oklahoma secretary of commerce told a House committee that right now is the best time to market Oklahoma.
Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Natalie Shirley spoke to the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee during an interim study on marketing the state.
State Rep. T.W. Shannon, who requested the study, said the crucial role marketing plays in drawing jobs and industry to the state makes it an important investment even in a tight budget year.
“The state is doing an incredible job of marketing itself, but there is more that we could do,” said Shannon, R-Lawton, “All three speakers who presented today showed that we are getting a return on our investment. Even in a tight budget year, it is crucial to continue to work to bring high-quality jobs for Oklahomans to the state.”
Shirley said that because of how well Oklahoma is faring the recession compared to its neighbors, now is the time to attract industry to the state. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is planning to spend $3 million in a media campaign to reach C-level executives – CEOs, CFOs, etc. – with a 13-week schedule promoting the state that includes advertising on national TV networks.
Shirley also noted that Oklahoma City has recently made the top of lists 26 times recently – lists like best-recession proof city and best place to start a small business. One problem the state has is that many business executives do not have a mental image of Oklahoma, a problem she is hoping the 13-week media campaign will solve.
For every tourism dollar spent, the state saw a $54.46 return in 2009, according to Hardy Watkins, executive director of the state Tourism and Recreation Department.