ENID, Okla. — Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jon Blankenship said he’s hopeful that 2021 will see a restart to some of the region’s major events, beginning with the Northwest District Junior Livestock Show.

“The show is scheduled for March 2-7 at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center,” he said. “We couldn’t do it last year (due to COVID-19), but it looks like it’s going to happen. There will be a mask mandate, of course.”

The event draws 800-900 students and approximately 2,000 head of livestock to the Expo Center.

Because it’s a youth show, families also attend, which is a boon for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

Enid Day at the Capitol was up in the air until the first week of February, when the decision was made to meet off Capitol grounds. The annual day puts Enid business and community leaders in touch with Oklahoma legislators to discuss issues important to the region.

This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, March 30, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Building, the headquarters of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

In a similar vein, 2020 was the first year Blankenship can remember when the chamber couldn’t take their federal legislative trip to Washington, D.C. The trip puts members from key sectors — military, medicine, education and energy — in front of U.S. legislators and Pentagon personnel.

“We’re looking at some critical mission projects for Vance (Air Force Base) this year,” Blankenship said, “including a dormitory and squadron office facility. We’re looking at the possibility of pushing this trip back a little so we don’t have to cancel again this year.”

Whatever the outcome of this year’s events, Blankenship said the chamber’s mission remains unchanged: to enhance the economic climate and quality of life of life of the community.

“We are a unified voice for business, and promoting local business has been very important during the pandemic,” he said. “We have a direct email program that many of our members are using to send ‘e-blasts’ to our mailing list to promote their services, sales and even delivery/curbside options.”

Blankenship said education remains an emphasis, as does downtown development, especially the possibility of residential facilities.

“The Enid Regional Development Alliance and Main Street are looking at existing facilities that could be repurposed to make residences, and investigating the availability of tax credits for those projects,” he said.

Expanding athletics tourism remains a goal for 2021, as well.

“David Allen Ballpark has helped Enid attract the Division II college world series, as well as hundreds of other games, so we have a blueprint of how to be successful with basketball, soccer and other sports, too,” Blankenship said. “A new soccer complex is currently under construction, in fact. The Enid High School gym and fine arts center that just opened also provide opportunities — on the gym side — for basketball tournaments.”

The most impressive goal in terms of numbers is the chamber’s push to make Enid a “billon-dollar city” by 2025. The number is based on total revenue, and it’s not as farfetched as it may sound.

“Assuming a flat December — meaning the same revenue as December 2019 — because we don’t have numbers yet for that month, total revenue would be $845 million (for 2020),” Blankenship said.

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Horton is a freelance writer who writes for the News & Eagle.

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