Week of January 7, 2002
Blockbuster Deal of the Week
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
Two New Projects Will Add
800 Jobs in Oklahoma City of 14,500
Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- "After a great deal of discussion with members of the Tahlequah City Council and many other members of the Tahlequah community, we have decided not to participate in the national economic downturn," said Jerry Cook, mayor of Tahlequah, Okla. (www.tahlequah.com).
That's easily enough said, for sure. Tahlequah, however, is pretty much doing just that. While some spots may be suffering a downturn, the small Oklahoma city is riding on a big upsurge. Located some 75 miles (120 km.) east of Tulsa, Tahlequah has landed two major projects in less than a month. Together, the two will add as many as 800 jobs - a whopping plenty in a town with a population of some 14,500 residents.
Tahlequah's new corporate citizens are Fast Trac Manufacturing, which is relocating its headquarters from California, and American Woodmark Corp. (www.americanwoodmark.com), which will build a new 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,000-sq.-m.) manufacturing plant. Both the facilities will be located in the Tahlequah Business/Industrial Park.
Part of the secret of Tahlequah's success seems to rest in the business recruitment partnership between the city and the Cherokee Nation. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation (www.cherokee.org), the federally recognized government of the Cherokee people, the second largest Indian tribe in the United States. Here's a brief look at the two projects that have positioned partnership-friendly Tahlequah outside the downturn.
Fast Trac's HQ Relocation
Currently headquartered in Hollister, Calif., Fast Trac manufactures cruiser and touring motorcycles, related motorcycle parts and accessories.
The company's Oklahoma operation, however, will extend beyond purely headquarters functions. Company officials projected that the Tahlequah operation will, "within two to three years," employ between 250 and 300 people in a range of manufacturing, marketing and administrative positions.
Fast Trac will transfer about a dozen "key employees" from its current California headquarters to the new Tahlequah facility, company officials explained. The rest of the hires at the Tahlequah operation will be local, they said.
"Everyone here has been very pleased with Tahlequah and all that it has to offer, both as a manufacturing center and as a place to live and raise a family," said Fast Trac President Ray Whitehead. "We are delighted at the prospect of bringing well-paying jobs and an exciting product to such an historic, beautiful and friendly part of the country."
Tahlequah's history includes its status as the terminus of the infamous "Trail of Tears" in 1838-39. The Fast Trac project signals different times, said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, who has focused his efforts on economic development.
"We are in a unique situation by working with a company like Fast Trac that is not interested in exploiting stereotypical images of Indians, but instead focused on the development of images that center around performance and quality, the attributes that the nation associates with the Cherokee," said Smith.
Fast Trac intends to begin operations in its new facility in Tahlequah, operating under the corporate name Cherokee Motorcycle Co., by the summer of 2002, company officials said.
American Woodmark's Manufacturing PlantWinchester, Va.-based American Woodmark, a supplier of kitchen cabinetry to the new construction and remodeling industry, has selected a 40-acre (16-hectare) site in the Tahlequah Business/Industrial Park. The company will build a US$20 million plant that will employ as many as 500 workers at peak capacity, American Woodmark officials said. The new assembly plant will begin shipping cabinetry to the South Central U.S. market by August of 2002, they projected.
"The company selected Tahlequah because the community offers an economically competitive environment and will provide a high-quality way of life for our employees," Dave Blount, American Woodmark senior vice president, manufacturing/logistics, said at the project announcement.
The Tahlequah plant will be the 13th established by American Woodmark. The company currently operates 11 manufacturing facilities in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. A 12th American Woodmark facility is being built in Hazard, Ky.
"American Woodmark's Tahlequah plant will be a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will help meet our customers' needs well into the future," said Blount.
"We are very pleased that our economic strategy and partnership with the city of Tahlequah has helped bring American Woodmark to the capital of the Cherokee Nation," said Smith. "We are pleased to work with American Woodmark to provide good career-path jobs for Cherokees and other members of the local community."
Editor's note: For a look at 2001's top 100 small towns for corporate location,
see the upcoming March 2002 issue of Site Selection.
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.