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PROGRESS 2020: Shawnee boasts another year of economic growth

Vicky O. Misa
Gordon Cooper Technology Center's (GCTC) new public safety training center, has been erected at the south end of campus. The structure is named the Marty Lewis Public Safety Training Facility, after a former superintendent.

Lots of new construction and the arrival of many new businesses over the past year continues to boost growth in Shawnee.

“The more projects that are taking place, the more growth our local economy benefits from,” Shawnee Forward Economic Development Director Tim Burg said.

New construction in the form of hotels, restaurants and manufacturing are popping up in town.

Just north of Interstate 40 sits the brand new Fairfield Inn & Suites, by Marriott.

“Another hotel is being planned on the south side of the street in that area,” Burg added.

Redrock Behavioral is going to build a new facility on the west side of Harrison, where the former monument business was located, he said.

A new physical therapy facility is being planned at Union and 45th Street, Burg said — as well as some other office or commercial space for others to lease or acquire.

Also, the new Metro First real estate office on MacArthur and Acme Road just opened, he said.

The addition of manufacturing operation United Dynamics, was established last summer at Wolverine Road and Kickapoo.

“It allowed them to hire more employees, and do more specialized projects related to the military, aerospace and aviation,” Burg said. “Having an aerospace firm in your community is certainly a bonus.”

Georg Fischer acquired land east of its facility at Leo and Independence, Burg said, and began clearing the site to allow for easier access to their facility by their freight haulers, and to add parking for their growing number of employees.

Plans are to double their workforce over the next five years, he said. GF Central Plastics currently employs around 650 people.

But even in a bustling city setbacks can occur.

“By far the toughest manufacturing project we dealt with as a community this past year was the closing of Shawnee Tubing Industries,” Burg said, “followed by the immediate acquisitions by investors who restarted the facility, now called Bison Metals Technologies.”

They are currently investing millions into the facility to upgrade and improve their production capabilities, grow their customer base and hire more employees. They plan on employing around 325 by the end of a three-year period, he said.

There also are other manufacturing expansion projects in the works, he said.

There are many ways an economic impact can be accomplished — not with just a new business opening.

Projects like new housing, roads and education can leave a lasting impression on an area, as well.

There are several new things in those areas being accomplished right now.

Housing

Mike Little Construction has recently remodeled a building for Shawnee Lofts on Main Street and built town homes nearby.

“We know there are conversations and plans in the works to do more of those kinds of development in the downtown area,” Burg said, “including an ongoing renovation of the old (Sunshine) apartments south of the Salvation Army on 9th street.”

By his best estimate, he said there are more than 35 single family housing developments either being finished out, just starting or in the planning, design and engineering phases.

Burg said Greg Brown's Wyndemere project on MacArthur is ongoing, as it is the final build out of homesites in the Timber's housing project, with a new builder Rausch Coleman out of Arkansas moving into the area.

“Rausch Coleman has purchased the remaining lots in the Winding Creek area, (Acme and Westech) and is building in that location as well,” he said.

And that's not all.

“Rick Landes and Bryan Little have started their new housing addition on 45th, east of Union; Salazar Construction has gotten an approved plat for the area between Gordon Cooper Tech Center and the Woodsong housing location and Cotton Homes has started a third phase to the Hyatt Housing addition,” Burg added.

Roads

“There are several significant roadway projects that will enhance access to our area and improve the safety for the residents,” Burg said.

The bridge on Highway 177, over the Kickapoo Spur has been completed, and there will soon be additional work commencing on 177 to repair the roadway, Burg explained.

Work is being planned for Independence and Leo in that area as well, he said.

“ODOT has started awarding contracts for the work that will allow I-40 to be widened from the Oklahoma/Pottawatomie County Line, to Highway 177 on the west side of Shawnee,” he said. “This will be a six-lane project.”

Education

“I-93 (Shawnee Schools District) has continued upgrading its schools and has hired an architectural firm to design the new elementary school on 45th west of Kickapoo,” Burg said.

North Rock Creek opened its new high school facility this past year and the other K-12 schools in the area continued to undertake remodeling and improvements, as the funding they receive from the county allows, he said.

“Gordon Cooper Technology Center also has been renovating its seminar center and business and industry services center,” he said.