MPOWER Economic Development Website. 
As the Executive Director for MPOWER, I worked to create a website to help market the community and promote tourism in the region.  

Working withStaplegun, I helped design the website layout and produced all information and photography.  The website integrated technology fromGIS Planning, which featured live data and demographics, as well as available sites for both commercial, office, and industrial use.

This technological tool helped the town gain greater exposure and allowed it to compete with other towns in the economic development landscape.

The website won an International Economic Development Council award (2011) and was instrumental to placing this rural, micropolitan community on the world map.

Later on, I made more technological enhancements to the website by working with Marketing Alliance, who created a "virtual tour" of the community.  This feature encouraged tourism by providing information on important historical landmarks, cultural heritage, community institutions, and parks and recreational opportunities.  

The Development of Oklahoma's First American Viticulture Area (AVA).

As the Executive Director for MPOWER, I authored a grant proposal to establish the State of Oklahoma's first, stand-alone, American Viticulture Area in hopes of building on the area's rich agricultural past that is currently dormant.   Once completed, this project would serve as an educational tool for area growers and help boost both the local and state's agricultural and tourism economies.  

This $50,000 grant was awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and work was completed by Texas viticulture experts, KEL Partners, who collected the scientific evidence needed to petition the US Department of Treasury.  This proposed AVA was named the "Sandstone Hills AVA" and would be the first stand-alone AVA in Oklahoma.  

Community Development Projects

Incentive Development.

You've probably heard it said before, but incentives can play a key role in attracting new investment to a community.  Initiated by a district council person, this incentive was created via a special committee that aimed to create the city's first formal retail sales tax incentive.  

As Director of Economic Development, my staff and I researched best practices, conducted significant field work, developed analyses, and drafted the proposed regulations for this rebate.

We also worked with the local Main Street organization, who committed to working with any new or existing business that was interested in applying for the program.  

The City Council voted to approve the program, which is now administered by the municipality.  

Shari Cooper

Project Manager + Economic Developer + Public Relations Professional

City Branding Logo & Marketing Plan
What does it take to make a community stand out in a competitive economic development landscape?    There can be many answers to this question.  However, one common denominator that healthy, vibrant communities have is curb appeal. Curb appeal just doesn't happen.  It takes a lot of vision, planning, and community support. This is what my organization tried to endeavor for the McAlester community.  

Working withMarketing Alliance, MPOWER aimed to guide the city's tourism expenditures more wisely in order to better promote the community for economic development purposes.  

The plan included the development of a citizen-selected logo, community brand, branding applications (gateway development, street banners, way finding signage) and tourism expenditure plan.  The plan (and logo you see to the right) was officially adopted by the city council in 2013.  

Tourism as Economic Development

In the McAlester community, sales tax revenue is the primary source of local revenue.  Nestled along a major state highway, McAlester is home to over 20 hotels and has a population of less than 20,000.

As Economic Development Director, I identified the untapped potential of the tourism industry.  Again, I worked with Marketing Alliance to develop several tourism-related projects that could boost revenues.

This work included the development of an online virtual tour and tourism brochure which won an International Economic Development Award.  The brochure also broke records for the number of requests at the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation Department.  

I also played a key role in developing the brand for a local festival.  I used my graphic design skills to create an events poster, developed a social media page, brought in talent and vendors, and promoted the event statewide. The event involved local elected officials and the turnout was the highest in the event's history.