The Crossing Borders region includes Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Delaware counties and becomes the fourth SET region in Oklahoma.
SET, a national partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Cooperative Extension Service launched in 2010, helps rural communities work together to boost regional economic development opportunities.
“SET encourages rural communities to partner together and since 2010, the program has been successfully providing a roadmap for tailoring economic development around a region’s specific strengths,” said Dave Shideler, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension community development specialist and an associate professor in the department of agricultural economics.
Anna Knight, executive director of Cherokee Nation Commerce Services, said SET will help the Crossing Borders region take advantage of its individuality.
“These counties are part of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance collaboration and recognize that regionalism is important for sustainable growth; however, we feel like we have specific issues and advantages that do not have specific action steps, and while we remain committed to our NORA partners, we want to be able to specifically address our uniqueness,” she said.
Through SET, the new region expects to craft a cohesive regional plan that addresses issues specific to area, including how its proximity to northwest Arkansas can be used to stimulate the local economy. The region also hopes to develop strong ongoing relationships among key constituents and gain a better understanding of how to work together to address the region’s needs.
As part of the program, county leaders and residents will participate in five coaching sessions. The first session, set for early next year, will be a public forum to invite citizens’ input in the process and review the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.
One of the takeaways from completing the program will be a strategic plan the region can put into action immediately.
In addition, Crossing Borders will have access to technical assistance from the SET coaching team made up of professionals from state and federal agencies, OSU and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Other public and private organizations also providing expertise include Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers, CareerTech, Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Native American Technology Council.
“SET harnesses the expertise of USDA and Cooperative Extension to help communities bring together the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to put a plan into action,” said Ryan McMullen, Oklahoma director of USDA Rural Development. “Other regions in Oklahoma have experienced a variety of concrete successes through the SET initiative, and we’re excited to see what we can accomplish together this year.”
Other SET regions in Oklahoma include Kiamichi (Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, Leflore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties), Western OK I-40 (Custer, Beckham, Caddo and Washita counties) and Route 66 Community Partners (Creek, Lincoln and Payne counties).
For more information about SET, contact McMullen at 405-742-1000 or Shideler at 405-744-6170.
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