By: Cassie Woods | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: March 2013
RSU Innovation Center Director Jeri Koehler presents City Manager Jim Thomas with a plaque recognizing Claremore as the state’s first Entrepreneur Ready Community.
With three months now under his belt as the leader of the City of Claremore, City Manager Jim Thomas is already making big plans for forward movement. “I believe there is a need for a community conversation with Claremore’s stakeholders about what they like and don’t like about Claremore, what they would like to see in Claremore and what they consider to be Claremore’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” said Thomas.
Thomas identifies Claremore’s five main stakeholders as its citizens, businesses, elected officials, Rogers State University and city staff. He believes that if the five of them come to the table, all with their diverse knowledge and all with the intent of improving the community, the outcome will be great possibilities and advancement for Claremore.
“The past is the past. It's a new day in Claremore and it’s time to move forward positively in the future,” said Thomas.
Thomas has already held separate retreats for the City Council and department heads to develop a midrange strategic plan. Among the items discussed and considered were the obvious needs of retail development, transportation and infrastructure in various departments such as water, sewer, electric and street, residential development and annexation, and how to strengthen tourism and downtown development.
“These are all items that I have heard over and over since I got to Claremore, and I believe they are all of interest to all of Claremore’s citizens, so we are currently working to encompass them into a strategic plan – sort of a ‘Claremore 2020’ – that we can get to work on immediately,” said Thomas.
In an effort to get the rest of the stakeholders at the table, Thomas is organizing a series of informal town hall meetings at various locations in the community. He hopes citizens and business owners will come share their opinions, concerns and ideas about their community so those items can be represented in long-term planning.
“We are looking forward to getting out in the neighborhoods and meeting with citizens one on one in a place more comfortable for them than City Hall,” said Thomas. “We’ll be announcing those dates and locations soon.”
Claremore has also recently received certification as the state’s first Entrepreneur Ready Community. Thomas hopes this certification will open doors for small businesses and developers to feel comfortable doing business in Claremore and take the community to the next level regarding economic growth.
“I have truly enjoyed my short time in Claremore, and I’m excited and energized to be a part of many great things in Claremore’s future,” said Thomas. “Teamwork and communication between the city and its stakeholders are the key to our success, and I’m looking forward to facilitating new partnerships.”
Thomas has a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University and a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from Weber State College in Utah. Prior to his move to Oklahoma, Thomas served in similar capacities for cities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois and Utah. In total, he brings to Claremore almost 25 years of municipal service, including successful experience in collective bargaining with public safety unions, financial and long-term sustainability planning, economic development and community outreach projects.