The Tulsa Metro Chamber today inaugurated Stan Lybarger, chief executive officer and president, Bank of Oklahoma, N.A., as the 2008 chairman of the Board of Directors.
Lybarger succeeds Chairman Chet Cadieux, chairman, president and chief executive officer, QuikTrip Corp. More than 1,100 area business leaders, local officials and citizens attended the Chamber inauguration at its annual meeting, presented by Bank of Oklahoma, N.A. and Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and hosted by the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center.
Lybarger set goals for the Chamber for the next year noting that
“real progress begins with acknowledging and addressing your weaknesses.”
He said the Tulsa region is at a crossroads – “with splintered paths leading in many directions.”
“It was clear as we exited 2007, that the Tulsa area is more divided than ever before – north from south, urban from suburban, citizens from government,” he said. “Communities defining … yours … mine … ours. Citizens and political leaders asking, ‘What’s in it for me?,”
Lybarger charged the Chamber “to be a voice and a force for getting people together, for making decisions, for getting things done.”
He said the Tulsa area is overburdened and underfunded.
“You need to look no further than the streets, to see that we are struggling to fund basic community services,” Lybarger said. “It is very important that we find a way to fund basic needs. Short-term, probably the only realistic option is to increase taxes. Long-term, we need to increase economic activity to grow the tax base. That means stimulating capital investment in our community and adding high quality jobs and skilled workers. To make this happen, we need to strike a balance between spending for basic needs and investing in enhancements to make the community a more attractive place to live and work.”
“We need to stimulate partnerships among the governmental units, the cities and counties in the metropolitan area to deliver basic needs,” he said. “The present approach is highly fragmented and inefficient. We must all learn to share our resources and blur the lines of city and county governmental units.
Another main focus is downtown re-development, he said.
“A healthy and vibrant downtown boosts the economic health and quality of life in a community,” he said. “Prospective employers and employees see the health of a downtown area as a proxy for the economic health and quality of life.”
Lybarger told the group it took public and private efforts to pass Vision 2025 to fund a new arena and restore the Convention Center. Over the next 24 months, the City of Tulsa will open the BOK Center, move to the One Technology Center, and complete the renovation of the Maxwell Convention Center. Convention Sports and Leisure has projected that the BOK Center can host 140 events annually, drawing approximately 560,000 spectators.
“Over a half million visitors to downtown Tulsa creates a great opportunity, but where will they eat, shop, and sleep?” he asked.
He cited a hotel feasibility study completed in 2006 suggesting Tulsa can sustain an additional 2,000 rooms by 2011. More than 2,500 rooms are needed within walking distance of the BOK Center and Maxwell Convention Center. Currently, 1,200 rooms are available in the downtown area, so an additional 1,300 are in critical need.
“We have made excellent first steps, but more needs to be done to finish the job of creating an attractive and highly competitive urban center, bustling with activity day and night,” Lybarger said. “To ensure the success of downtown, we will need to add a new convention hotel, a first-class entertainment district, other downtown attractions (like the Drillers), and new retail and housing options.”
“The Chamber will work closely with the City of Tulsa and Downtown Tulsa Unlimited to develop a master plan with all of these elements, and will lend a hand to help the city take advantage of attractive opportunities to accelerate downtown redevelopment,” he said.
He characterized the defeat of Arkansas River development as a missed opportunity.
“There are many successful economic development and quality of life initiatives in urban centers across the country that began with riverfront development,” he said. “River development remains a top priority to the Chamber and the business community, and I’m looking forward to the day when downtown Tulsa and the river work together to drive economic development, tourism, entertainment and recreation for our community.”
Lybarger began his career with Bank of Oklahoma in the management training program nearly 33 years ago upon graduation from the University of Kansas where he received both his B.A. and M.B.A. degrees.
In addition to serving as the Chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber board, Lybarger currently serves as the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition; the OSU Lew Wentz Foundation Board of Trustees; Tulsa Community Foundation
Board of Trustees; and Director of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, Inc. Lybarger is also past chair of the Tulsa’s Future Committee.
Volunteers of the Year Recognized
The Metro Tulsa chamber also announced its volunteers of the year.
? Ken Levit , executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and Chamber vice chairman of the Board for Government Affairs, wone the Chairman’s Award.
? Two volunteers were selected for the Award of Excellence: Mike Cooper, 2007 Resource Campaign chairman and director of External Affairs for AT&T, and Phil Eller, president of Eller and Detrich.
? The 2007 Hospitality Club Volunteer of the Year went to Marvin Krueger, Melaleuca, Inc.
? The top producer for the Chamber’s annual Resource Campaign was Lynda Wingo, executive director of Miss Helen’s Private School.