The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 7, 2008

Lobbyists for better roads, airports need backing

Transportation, on the ground and in the air, is at the top of the list of priorities Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce will stress to local lawmakers this year.

Widening U.S. 412 to four lanes between Enid and Woodward, and eventually all the way to New Mexico, tops the list. When this project is completed it will give Enid four-lane access directly to the east, west and south with access to the north via I-35, some 30 miles east of town.

This will make it easier for businesses to ship their goods to and from Enid, and for residents and visitors alike to get here.

Jon Blankenship, chamber executive director, said the city must partner with other cities and lawmakers from other regions to accomplish this goal.

Improving rural airports is another priority. This will impact Enid Woodring Regional Airport, which could provide the city and county with economic development opportunities that have yet to be realized.

State Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, says he will introduce a bill calling for rural airport funding. The measure would help small airports like Woodring build infrastructure and construct shell buildings and projects to improve hangars.

Other issues the chamber is emphasizing: getting more Enid-area people appointed to state boards and commissions, and recruiting qualified people to make sure there are enough workers to fill positions in northwest Oklahoma.

We applaud the chamber for narrowing its focus to two or three key issues and working hard to get them on the Legislature’s radar. Two years ago the focus was on creating a business incubator at Autry Technology Center. That project will be completed this spring, further evidence the chamber’s legislative efforts on behalf of our city and county are working.

The widening project and boosting rural airport funding are two admirable goals. It will take the city, county and business leaders working together to take the message of the importance of these issues to the Legislature.