July 9, 2023


The Water Science Academy: A Thirst for Hands-On Science

Few issues are more important to the survival of the human race than water sustainability. Water is essential for life and new water technologies and research can only help us in the future. East Central University in Ada is working to address this need head on. The University is home to the Oka’ Water Institute, but it also offers a Master’s Degree in Water Resource Policy Management. However, after the 2022 Oka’ Institute’s Sustainability Conference, Dr. Christine Pappas, Director of the Water Resource Policy Management program at ECU, was approached by Mike Anderson, Superintendent of Ada City Schools. Through this encounter, she discovered that there is a real need and interest in the community for hands-on water education at the younger levels. This took Pappas down a road that led to more engagement with the youth with regards to water science and eventually culminated in the Water Science Academy.

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Senator Lankford Visits Globe Manufacturing in Ada

What happened?

Senator James Lankford visited the Globe Manufacturing facility in Ada on Tuesday, June 27th. Globe is a division of MSA Safety and produces turnout gear for firefighters. Shane Hudson, Production Manager for the Globe facility, led the Senator on a tour of the production floor. Local community members present for the visit included Jim Eldridge, with the Ada Jobs Foundation, Chris Feilier, Board Chair of the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, Jim Lawson, Ada Jobs Foundation Past Chair and Coordinator with Pontotoc Technology Center, and Daniel Castaneda, Economic Development Specialist with the Ada Jobs Foundation.

Economic Development Story

The visit coincides with a recent expansion of the Ada plant. The facility originally housed a Wrangler clothing production facility and regional headquarters. When that plant closed, the Ada Jobs Foundation worked to recruit Globe to Ada in 2006. In 2017, Globe was acquired by MSA Safety and is one of two facilities which manufacture turnout gear for the Globe brand (the other facility is in Pittsfield, New Hampshire). The Ada facility recently added a new shift and grew the number of people employed by the plant. This growth in jobs will create a positive economic impact in our community and the Ada Jobs Foundation appreciates the continued investment and support from MSA for the plant and employees in Ada.

Ada Jobs Foundation Welcomes Matthew Stephens to Team

Matthew Stephens joins the Ada Jobs Foundation (AJF) as the Accelerator Manager for Southwest Oklahoma’s Conduit Initiative. Through this role, Stephens is responsible for developing and implementing an entrepreneurial training program that reaches a 10-county region of Southern Oklahoma to inspire local entrepreneurs to start businesses in our area.


“The Ada Jobs Foundation believes that innovation and economic growth in our community depends on our region becoming an inclusive and thriving tech startup ecosystem. Through the Conduit Initiative we support and provide the training and resources local entrepreneurs need to start their business, in the communities that they already live in, “said James Eldridge, President and CEO of the Ada Jobs Foundation. “We’re thrilled to have Matthew join our team, his background and experience as a military veteran, public relations professional, and working with the Chickasaw Nation are assets which will strengthen our team.”


The Accelerator Manager position was created through the Build to Scale Award that AJF received from the Economic Development Administration (EDA award number ED21HDQ0240067) in 2021. This position will be grant funded through at least 2024. Others working on the Conduit Initiative with Stephens on the Conduit Initiative include Sunnie Smith, the Ecosystem Digital Content Manager, Ashia Todd, the Startup Community Manager, and Jake Cantrell, the Scalable Investment Associate.


“Since 2016 I’ve lived in Southern Oklahoma and have been engaged with supporting and coordinating outreach efforts to grow community involvement," said Matthew Stephens. “Working with entrepreneurs and providing opportunities for success will grow our region and state. I’m excited to bring my experience to the great team of people working on this initiative.”


Most recently Stephens served as a public relations officer for the Chickasaw Nation for six years, supporting and coordinating numerous outreach efforts including annual publications, special events, and community involvement. Stephens is a Navy veteran with ten years of naval intelligence experience. His work involved supporting operations, planning and training in various locations, including California, Nevada, and across the Far East. He is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Currently enrolled at East Central University, Stephens is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.


We want to hear from you. Do you want to be a part of our entrepreneurial training efforts and Conduit Initiative to grow southwest Oklahoma? Contact Matthew at mstephens@growada.com.

Ada Jobs Foundation



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