By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2014
(L to R): Evan Tipton (TYPros Chair-elect), Shagah Zakerion (TYPros Executive Director), Hillary Parkhurst (TYPros Immediate Past Chair), Ryan McDaniel (TYPros Business Development Crew Co-Leader), Pooneet Kant (General Manager of Uber – Oklahoma), Emily Webb (TYPros Business Development Crew Leader), Isaac Rocha (TYPros 2014 Chair), and Siobhan Carey (Uber Community Manager).
International ridesharing company Uber launched uberX transportation service in Tulsa in March, in response to a surge of support following a recent Tulsa’s Young Professionals “Bring it to Tulsa” campaign. Tulsans can now summon a trained local driver to take them anywhere in the Tulsa area using Uber’s smartphone app.
“Tulsa’s Young Professionals made history with their Bring Uber to Tulsa Campaign, and the overwhelming support from residents made it happen. Ridesharing is spreading across the country and starting today, we’re connecting Tulsans with rides and local drivers with economic opportunities,” said Pooneet Kant, general manager of Uber Oklahoma. “Tulsa spoke, and we listened!”
In December, Uber was the subject of the second iteration of Bring it to Tulsa, a business-attraction initiative that previously raised awareness of the need for a Trader Joe’s specialty grocery story in Tulsa. The initiative encouraged Tulsans to sign up as Uber riders or drivers and included a special Bring it to Tulsa sign-up code that offered new riders a discount on their first ride.
Tulsa now joins more than 60 Uber host cities in 34 countries, including Oklahoma City, Dallas, New York City, London, Paris and Moscow. Riders who sign up online can select a pickup time and destination from their smartphones, pay digitally and be picked up by a vetted professional in a vehicle that matches the luxury preference of the rider. Uber hires local drivers who can work as often as they wish, thereby creating jobs.
“Uber is a game-changer for transportation in this city,” said Isaac Rocha, 2014 chair of Tulsa’s Young Professionals. “With no public investment, Tulsa has taken one more step toward becoming a place where anyone can live without the expense of regularly using a car. That makes us all the more attractive to millennials, who increasingly choose cities with ample mass transportation.”
Rocha noted that ridesharing services like Uber have been shown to increase the use of mass transportation in all forms, including for existing taxi services by boosting awareness of its availability and by complementing bus and taxi schedules to allow for continuous access to mass transportation without long waits.
“Filling current gaps in the availability of mass transit in Tulsa is imperative if our city is to attract young talent, improve the vitality of our growing walking districts, spur downtown development and, most importantly, ensure that young people, low-income residents and senior citizens have reasonable access to transportation without relying on a personal vehicle,” said Shagah Zakerion, TYPros executive director.
For local operations, Uber will office from The Forge, the TYPros-powered business incubator at 125 W. Third St. in downtown Tulsa. The company will use the facility’s co-working space, a shared workspace with Wi-Fi and office amenities. For more information about Uber, visit www.uber.com.
The Bring it to Tulsa initiative was spearheaded by the TYPros Business Development Crew, one of numerous volunteer-based TYPros sub-groups that work to improve various facets of the city. As part of the initiative, TYPros periodically selects a business and works to prove its viability in Tulsa in an attempt to attract the company. In the first Bring it to Tulsa campaign, TYPros created an online shop to sell Trader Joe’s merchandise, which was then transported from the grocery store’s nearest location in Kansas to a temporary storefront in Tulsa. Tulsans purchased nearly $7,000 in Trader Joe’s merchandise, and hundreds of Tulsans visited the temporary location in February 2013.
Tulsa’s Young Professionals, one of the nation’s largest young professional organizations, is division of the Tulsa Regional Chamber and a volunteer-based free membership organization for working and creative adults under the age of 40. Its mission is to attract and retain young talent in the Tulsa region while establishing Tulsa’s next generation of business and community leaders.
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Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.