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CREATE BRIDGES is hosting three academies in April to help two regions in Oklahoma build rural economies.

Rural economy the focus of upcoming academies

Friday, March 29, 2019

A new initiative at Oklahoma State University is making strides in helping build rural economies.

Sara Siems, OSU Cooperative Extension assistant specialist, said three informative academies will take place to help residents of rural Oklahoma gain a better understanding of how the new innovative initiative CREATE BRIDGES can benefit their area. The target audience for these free academies, slated April 5, April 16 and April 24, includes business owners, the local Chamber of Commerce or economic development staff, as well as local community leaders.

“In each of the three academies we’ll give an overview of the program and provide an economic profile of the region as it relates to retail, accommodations, tourism and entertainment,” Siems said. “We’ll also discuss the elements driving these trends, how businesses created by this initiative strengthen the local economy and how investing in CREATE BRIDGES workforces benefits your business and region.”

CREATE BRIDGES was established last summer in two regions in the state. The Sandstone Hills region includes Creek, Osage and Pawnee counties, while the Crossing Borders region is made up of Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes and Sequoyah counties.

The Sandstone Hills Region academy will take place April 5, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Osage County OSU Extension Office, 628 Kihekah, Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The Crossing Borders Region will feature two academies; one April 16, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Dwight Mission Camp and Conference Center, 100995 S. 4590 Rd, Vian, Oklahoma; and April 24, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Northeast Tech Center, 450 U.S. Highway 59, Kansas, Oklahoma.

CREATE BRIDGES was established with the help of a $2.7 million grant from Walmart to the Southern Rural Development Center, and launched on August 30 in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arkansas. 

As part of this innovative initiative, researchers from OSU, the University of Kentucky and the University of Arkansas System are collaborating to develop, refine and pilot a process to help rural communities build their capacity for strengthening the retail, tourism and entertainment sectors, which provide jobs and business opportunities that frequently boost rural economies. The program also will look at workforce solutions to retain workers and promote from within.

For more information and to register for the academies, visit

Story by Trisha Gedon 

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