Ada's Investment Pays Off In Jobs and Growth

Good news may travel fast.  But benefits from long-term investment can take time to grow. One community that’s reaping the bounty of a seed planted 14 years ago is Ada, Oklahoma.

Michael Southard,
Ada Jobs Foundation

The “seed” was a dedicated economic development tax passed by Ada voters in 1998, according to Michael Southard, President of Ada Jobs Foundation (AJF).  Since then, those sales tax receipts have been reinvested into the community.

Today Ada is one of our state’s fastest growing labor markets, with a diversified, engaged workforce of over 21,000 people and an unemployment rate of just 3.5%.  How’d they do it?Mike cites four perfect examples of how the community’s investment in business has paid off in jobs, innovation, revenues, and economic growth.

  • Though often seen as flyover country, General Aviation Modifications (GAMI), an airplane fuel injector manufacturer,has landed Ada on the map in the aviation industry.  With the help of AJF’s incentive package, GAMI expanded their manufacturing facility and added 72 employees to their team.GAMI seminars and fly-ins drive traffic to Ada’s Municipal Airport.  And, as the company develops their proprietary formula for unleaded aviation fuel, GAMI is poised to fly even higher. Stay tuned.  You’ll be hearing a lot more about GAMI.
  • In 2003, Ada lost a Wrangler jeans manufacturing plant and 246 jobs. The community came to the rescue, absorbing the jobs within three months and re-tooling the Wrangler facility.That enticed New Hampshire-based Globe Manufacturing, a maker of protective gear for firefighters and first responders, to move to town – with 50 new jobs and an economic engine that’s generated $5.2 million in retail sales since 2004.
  • Investing for the future also means planning for the unexpected.  And when Ada’s largest employer, Legal Shield (formerly Pre-Paid Legal), considered relocating its headquarters, AJF was on the case with incentives and construction assistance to help the company expand there.The move helped retain 443 jobs engaged in marketing legal expense plans to consumers.  Since then it’s grown another 232 new Ada jobs – and is still hiring! 

In an era of overnight success and 140 character Twitter messages, Ada shows that good things – and good news – can come to those who wait!

Legal Shield Headquarters in Ada

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