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Southeastern Oklahoma State University

The Texoma Regional Consortium is helping to prepare the workforce of the future through its unique "real-life" math program being presented to high school students by employees of local business and industry. This program is the result of business and industry meetings that found one of the primary issues for employers is the lack of a qualified workforce.

Partners in the consortium are Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Workforce Solutions Texoma and the Southern Workforce Board, which cover a 13-county region in north Texas and Oklahoma.

As part of the real-life math project, experts from business and industry are visiting area high school math classes to help students see the practical applications as applied in real jobs in the real world. The students can then visualize how they would use their skills for future job opportunities. To date, areas that have been addressed are engineers, medical professionals, financial planners, construction, land surveying and credit analysis. These businesses believe in the program and want to continue participation in the program.

"These professionals are emphasizing to the students that there is a practical purpose for what they are learning and that it will be applied in everyone's work experiences," said Kathy Hendrick, director of the University’s Center for Regional Competitiveness. "This program is an example of how we are working to ensure that we retain our youth for our future workforce, which is so vital to the overall health of our economy."

Other retention programs include the "It Starts Now" DVD about students planning for their futures; an academic program, "Career Choices," at Durant High School; and the Manufacturing Education Training System (METS) Lab for area junior and senior high schools.

SOSU Participates in Unique Two-State Consortium
Collaboration and partnerships are necessary in today’s global economy. Those concepts, combined with the need for a stronger regional workforce, have brought forth a unique two-state partnership in which Southeastern Oklahoma State University is involved. Taking into account the extensive growth and low employment figures in southeast Oklahoma and north Texas, it is evident that the focus for the future could be addressed by the region rather than by working separately.

One challenge in creating a regional response to workforce and economic challenges is the traditional competitive climate that exists among communities of the region, particularly between the Oklahoma and Texas sides of the Red River. However, the reality is that the counties on both sides of the river share many common concerns. Future successful responses to global economic challenges and opportunities will require cross-state collaborations.

To help achieve the necessary cooperation, the Texoma Workforce Development Board and the Southern Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board have joined forces with many of the economic development organizations and higher education institutions across a 13-county region along the Texas and Oklahoma borders. Along with the many economic development and workforce groups, the partnership includes higher education institutions – Southeastern Oklahoma State University, East Central University and Murray State College in Oklahoma and Grayson County College (Denison) and North Central Texas College (Gainesville) in Texas. These organizations are working together as a way to engage participation in defining a vision for the future prosperity of the region.

The consortium has engaged the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness to help frame key issues and facilitate the discussions of regional leaders toward developing a regional economic growth strategy through a grant. This strategy is expected to chart a new economic future for the region’s residents, workers and businesses. This partnership can assist in facilitating a transition in the area from traditional dependence on low-skill manufacturing and resource-based activities to a more knowledge-based economy. This is a similar transition that many other U.S. regions are undergoing, but without the benefit of the leadership making informed collective choices. The ultimate goal is to create a unified vision toward a common economic future that reflects the realities of current and future trends.

The advisory group, along with local stakeholders, has been meeting for the past year and a half to identify key strategic themes. The seven strategic themes based on the region’s assets are knowledge capacity, innovation, global image as competitive location, amenities, community and civic support, connectivity, and regional collaboration.

Southeastern Oklahoma Economic Development Network, a partnership of Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton/McAlester, Murray State College in Tishomingo and Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, is a both an e-network and a human network linking all of the economic development resources in the region. Utilization of the network is growing rapidly and gaining positive exposure for SOSU on a state, regional and national level.

Southeastern Class Teams Up With Small Businesses
Students in Management 3343, a small business management class at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, teamed up with the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center for a recent project.

Teams of students were assigned a small business that was a client of the OSBDC. Students then signed confidentiality agreements and conducted health checks of the businesses.

The teams also had access to all the professors in the School of Business. That is, if a business seemed to have accounting process issues, the team could enlist the help of an accounting professor to determine the best recommendation for the business.

Each business received a presentation that included a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of the business, based on the information received during the Health Check, and recommendations.

The class worked with 15 businesses throughout southeastern Oklahoma. The businesses were surveyed at the end of the semester to determine their level of satisfaction with the student consulting service. All responses indicated the service was well received and rated the student consultants as excellent.

Some of the comments on the survey:

What did you like best about the program?

“Meeting young innovative people who have new ideas.”
“Their recommendations were right on target!”
“The way each student expressed themselves.”
“Forced me to take time to look at some areas I had not been concentrating on.”

The instructor for the class was Dr. Jane Licata, associate professor of management and marketing.

Southeastern School of Business Conducts Chickasaw Entrepreneurship Academy
Last July 31 Chickasaw teenagers participated in the Southeastern Oklahoma State University School of Business’ Chickasaw Entrepreneurship Academy. The participants ranged from seventh grade to two high school graduates, according to Dr. Jane Licata, associate professor of management and marketing.

Participants put in 11-hour days, with activities including field trips to small businesses, guest speakers and the development of their own business plans. Each participant received a business pack, which included a briefcase, business cards, business card holder, scheduling book, watch, calculator, and business plan workbook and software.

Guest speakers included such successful entrepreneurs as State Regent John Massey, Whitney Ferris, Brian Gabbard and Ryan Hall. In addition, Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby and Brian Campbell spoke to the participants about the history of entrepreneurship in the Chickasaw Nation and the Nation’s current enterprises.

At the end of the week, the participants had completed a business plan for their ventures. Two students received awards, one for “The Venture Most Likely to Succeed” (Sasha Bighair – Sasha’s Catering and Decorating) and “The Most Creative Business Venture” (Marissa Moore – M-N-M Book Café).

Another Chickasaw Entrepreneurship Academy will be held this summer. The Nation would like to move the two award winners into actual implementation of their venture. The winners this summer will receive seed money and small business mentoring to help them actually start a business.

USDA Rural Development (external link)

Oklahoma City Human Resources Society (external link)

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (external link)

i2E (external link)

Resources for Student Veterans and Active-Duty Military

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (external link)