STILLWATER, Okla. – The Kiamichi Regional Team and Western Oklahoma I-40 Corridor programs have been announced as the two Oklahoma areas that will take part in OK-SET, part of Phase Three of “Stronger Economies Together,” a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Cooperative Extension Service.

“SET is a proven, highly interactive program that helps rural residents and leaders build regional partnerships focused on their particular economic strengths,” said Brian Whitacre, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension rural development specialist and an associate professor in the department of agricultural economics.

Oklahoma was one of seven states selected to participate in Phase Three of the collaborative program. The Kiamichi Regional Team is comprised of Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, Leflore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties. The Western Oklahoma I-40 Corridor is comprised of Custer, Beckham, Caddo and Washita counties.

“We see a lot of potential for economic development in the counties situated along the interstate, and OK-SET provides us with the expertise necessary to help us turn that potential into actual benefits,” said Larry Wright, who led the application process for the Western Oklahoma I-40 Corridor program.

The basic format is that community and county residents and leaders in the regional program work together to identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses with the help of OK-SET professionals drawn from key state and federal agencies, land-grant university Extension programs and other public and private organizations.

Thirty-five hours of training is delivered to each SET-approved region of three or more counties. Much of the training involves hands-on work on the regional plan by team members. In addition, as many as 40 hours of technical assistance may be offered to facilitate the implementation of the regional plan.

“Our OSU Cooperative Extension county offices have done a marvelous job of getting local residents and community leaders to take part in this important economic development effort, just the type of collaborative partnership promoted by OK-SET,” said Lani Vasconcellos, Southeast District Extension family and consumer science specialist who led the application process for the Kiamichi Regional Team program.

USDA Rural Development Deputy Undersecretary Doug O’Brien and Ryan McMullen, Oklahoma director of USDA Rural Development, agree with Vasconcellos.

“We hear from across the nation that SET enables rural citizens to work together to determine their region’s future,” O’Brien said.

McMullen added that an increasing number of community leaders and county officials are realizing that a vital element of economic enhancement is in finding some way to reach the needed critical mass of knowledge, talents, skills and resources to effectively develop and enact a successful plan of action.

“Previous SET participants in other states have gone on to develop industry specific training programs and successfully apply for grants and other monetary assistance targeted toward economic enhancement and development,” he said.

Anyone seeking additional information about OK-SET should contact McMullen at 405-742-1000 or Whitacre at 405-744-6083.


Donald Stotts
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
143 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4079
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: [email protected]
DASNR Website:

DASNR Website:

Oklahoma State University, U. S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local governments cooperating; Oklahoma State University in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices, or procedures, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Read more


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here