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Economic developer: Oklahoma City is still open for business
The former head of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Kurt Foreman, is keeping a close eye on the rebuilding process in tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., as executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. His chamber represents 5,400 companies, Foreman said, and now the focus is on helping the ones in Moore.
“The retail section of its community is devastated. Their hospital has been hit hard. They’ve lost some schools," Foreman said, from his home in Edmond, Okla., about 20 miles north of Moore. "There will be lots of construction, which will create jobs for people. So, there will be lots of economic activity. But our job is to try to see if we can help people get going faster.”
The Oklahoma City metro area boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the country, two years running for big city metro areas. Foreman said Oklahomans know how to rebuild, and part of his job is to convey that Oklahoma City’s economy is not compromised.
“Ours will be to make sure that people are getting the information that they need, and quite honestly that we tell the world that we’re still open for business, and this is not going to keep us down," Foreman said.
Moore is in the middle of a large commuting zone, so Foreman expects workday travel will be disrupted for some time.
Unlike Hurricane Katrina, Foreman said, the tornado devastation is in a concentrated area and surrounding businesses and neighborhoods that are unaffected will help fortify the areas that are closed.