Economies of small towns in Oklahoma have been the subject of revitalization coming mostly from new entertainment spots. Millennials are reportedly at the forefront of introducing new options for entertainment experiences in OK’s smaller communities.
Brent Kisling, Oklahoma’s Director for the Department of Commerce said he believes the main reason why the revitalization phenomenon is happening is because a lot of optimism are being shared right now in the state. He added that
”After hitting rock bottom with teacher walkouts and budget shortfalls, Oklahomans have woken up to the fact that they need to change their ways.”
The current thrust is to attract and retain community-oriented millennials with entrepreneurial skills, who are looking for a high quality life at a low cost of living. The movement started when many of Oklahoma’s young professionals moved back home, whilst introducing business ideas they acquired from bigger cities.
The towns of Shawnee and Chickasha have been cited as excellent examples of how young professionals are revitalizing lesser known communities.
Young Couple Opens an Entertainment Destination In Shawnee
Back in 2018, Cami Engles’ husband landed a job in Shawnee. Seeing that there were not enough places to hang out in Shawnee, the couple later decided to transform their Shawnee property into a destination restaurant.
Calling it “Theopolis Social Club,” it serves high-end cocktails and dishes prepared by a chef who uses local Oklahoma ingredients. The restaurant has since earned favorable reviews, to which one remarked:
“We are lucky to have the “Theopolis Social Club in Shawnee,” where the food and drinks, as well as the atmosphere remind us of places we have visited in Manhattan!”
Chickasha’s Millennials Form Partnerships In Opening Up New Businesses
At the southwest of Oklahoma City lies the small town of Chickasha; which for three decades, has been home to about 16,000 residents. Cassandra Ersland, a Chickasha native, said entertainment options used to be limited, where friends merely got together at somebody’s house.
Cassandra is one of the many young professionals who moved back home after staying in Denver for years; mainly out of desire for being closer to her family. Today, she is the president of Chickasha’s Chamber of Commerce, saying the push to revitalize the town, comes not only from their generation but from the older generations as well.
Apparently, the generations of Chickashans before them perceived what was happening, and have thrown their support behind the millennials; asking what the older people could do to make them stay in the community.
According to Ms. Ersland, partnerships were formed thereafter, to which Chickasha has seen a lot of new emerging businesses such as a bar and lounge, a brewery, a smoothie cafe and several clothing boutiques. Future plans include a downtown park where an area will be reserved for food trucks.