August 28, 2022


The Fire Station: Historic Ada Moves into the Future of Innovation

In late 2021, Ada was named as one of only eleven communities across the country to be awarded a USDA RISE grant. The grant awarded to the City of Ada will be used to transform the historic Central Fire Station into a new space for business incubation, co-working spaces, classroom space for entrepreneurship workshops, among many other possibilities.

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What happened? Last week, Jim Eldridge and Daniel Castañeda attended the annual retreat for Select Oklahoma. Select Oklahoma is the primary organization that supports economic developers throughout Oklahoma, and it was formed in 2021 as the successor to both the Governor’s Economic Development Marketing Team and the Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council.

Why it matters: The Ada Jobs Foundation was a sponsor for the event, and was able to take advantage of networking, educational sessions, and updates about the organization. These events provide crucial opportunities to share notes with other economic developers, coordinate programs, and create opportunities for professional development.


Filming wrapped up late last week on the Rural Edge video project.

The background: This is a video series created by the Center on Rural Innovation to tell the story of entrepreneurship and the digital economy in rural communities. This year, Ada is included as one of the communities being featured in this series, and Southend Films, the production team filming the series, was in Ada to shoot interviews and footage.

Where it’s going next: We expect the video to be released later on this year, and the Ada Jobs Foundation is working to plan out a local premiere event to coincide with the release of the Ada-focused video.


What is it? CREATE (Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs and Transforming Economies) is a Georgia program focused on assisting cohorts rural communities with technical assistance and seed capital over a two-year period. It functions through a partnership between Georgia Power Company, Main Street America, and the University of Georgia Office of Public Service and Outreach and provides communities with an entrepreneurship strategy and $5,000 in seed capital. Participating communities are required to identify 5-6 local champions to participate in the program, including at least one entrepreneur or small business owner.

Recent Activity: Last week, the program carried out a workshop in Polk County, Georgia.

Why it matters: State and regional programs that work with rural communities to create the capacity for entrepreneurship support, access to capital, and organizational partnerships are models to study for our work to build scalable tech startup companies in Southern Oklahoma. Other state programs include Michigan’s SmartZones, Network Kansas, and Pennsylvania’s Keystone Innovation Zones. These programs, along with our fellow communities in the Rural Innovation Network are helping us refine our programs and offer better opportunities to our local entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially as we are working to build a regional leadership roundtable of local entrepreneurship champions as part of our Build to Scale program.


Starting this week, Peggy Saunkeah will create a weekly shout out to individuals, companies, and organizations working to enhance Ada and our economic development efforts.

Saunkeah Shout OUT this week is for DANIEL CASTENADA, Economic Development Specialist, Ada Jobs Foundation. While attending the Select Oklahoma Retreat 2022 this week, Daniel proposed an idea for Select OK to offer some membership tier or outreach program that is geared towards students or young professionals in the state. This was noted, in particular, at the conclusion of the brainstorming session of the retreat.


Through the group, students would be educated on what economic entails, how it works in Oklahoma, and would provide insight into the different groups/programs that are found throughout the state. Economic developers focus on creating pipelines into key industries or their communities, but often fail to create pathways into their own field. This program would help form that pipeline and potentially help build capacity within organizations throughout Oklahoma. WOW! 


Also Daniel is planning to join the Education and Membership Committee for Select OK, so he may be able to bring this idea to fruition. Daniel is not just an idea man – he is the facilitator as well!!!


Ada Jobs Foundation (AJF) does many, many things for the City of Ada and our community but we are NOT an employment organization. 

The Team at Ada Jobs Foundation provide the education, network, and support to create the environment for Ada’s economy to grow!

Ada Jobs Foundation


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