Shawnee loses economic development director as Burg takes position in OKC

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star

After more than a decade of service to Shawnee as its economic development director, Tim Burg served his last day Friday, July 30.

Burg first came to Shawnee from Ponca City when he took on the job as director of economic development with Shawnee Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) in 2009. He stayed on in that position in 2018 when SEDF merged with the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce to form Shawnee Forward.

Burg has put in 12 years total in Shawnee, and said the decision to move on came about when he and his wife started exploring what it would take to move closer to their children and grandchildren in Oklahoma City.

What started as conversations with friends turned into an opportunity to make that change sooner rather than later.

“Within 60 days, I had a job somewhere else,” he said. “It was surprising.”

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Tim Burg

Burg will be moving on to a position as economic development director for Moore Norman Technology Center. It's a “twist on economic development” he said, as most economic development positions are with city and county entities, while his new job will be with a career and technology education center. But he said the center is “on the cutting edge of workforce development.”

Another advantage, Burg said, is that he's well acquainted with employees at his next job.

“I know a lot of the people I'll get to work with and have been associated with them 25-plus years,” he said. “My boss and I had worked together on projects before, so it's just like going to work with family.”

Burg put a strong emphasis on the people he's worked with when it comes to looking back on his time on the job in Shawnee.

“I've worked with some outstanding individuals,” he said. “We work really closely with city, county, university, private businesses … the list goes on, and you don't have all the ink and paper to list all of the partners we've worked with over the last 12 years. It's not about me, it's about a group effort. It really is.”

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Others praised the experience of working with him as well.

Rachel Melot, CEO of Shawnee Forward, said “Tim has been the steady force of economic development in our community through several organizational and leadership changes. Tim's known all over the state and has a great network that he has showcased our city to. Tim is always proud of Shawnee and shines a spotlight on our community any time there is an economic development opportunity. It has been a pleasure serving on a board and now working with Tim. In his new role, I look forward to being able to have a continued working relationship with him. Shawnee Forward will miss him greatly.”

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Joe Ford, president of Shawnee Milling Company and also on the board of Shawnee Forward, spoke highly of Burg's influence on Shawnee as well.

“Tim was a great asset to the manufacturing community of the city of Shawnee. Any time there was an issue with utilities or any state of emergency in the area, Tim was always one of my very first calls to get his wisdom, advice and assistance,” Ford said.

Burg has a total of about 35 years in the field of economic development – 20 as a paid professional and 15 doing volunteer work on economic development boards – and said it “all helps you do the job.”

Looking back on it, he talked about something Ford said during a Shawnee Forward board meeting that had in impact on him.

He said Ford made a comment about how fulfilling it is to drive through the community and see the work that's been done with economic development, whether its the Marketplace, new medical facility, or schools.

“Everyone sees the big stuff,” he said Ford told them. “All that is living it all over again, because you got to do it and you got to be a part of it. You got to move things down the road and help with progress.”

It's what Ford said after that that really stuck with Burg, though.

He said Ford told them, “The thing you don't really see is the kid that's living in a better place to live and has a better life because you created a job for his parents. You created a job for mom and dad, and that creates a better life for that child.”

Now that he has worked his last day with Shawnee, Melot said the process of hiring a new economic development director has begun, and a job posting has been listed.