Central Oklahoma Communities Focus on Sustainable Economic Recovery & Resilience



In an effort to assist our municipal governments to proactively respond and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) unveiled the Community Economic Resiliency Initiative (CERI) Program in late 2020.

Funded by a supplemental CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA), CERI offers Central Oklahoma communities the opportunity to develop projects that will model strategic community and economic investment with a focus on sustainable economic recovery and long-term resiliency.

In developing the CERI Program, ACOG has partnered with the Oklahoma Main Street Center and the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) to provide a toolkit of services to successful applicants that serve as the foundation for effective economic revitalization.

The CERI Call for Applications was officially released via email and website posting on Tuesday, December 29, 2020. ACOG staff conducted a virtual CERI Application Forum on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 for the purpose of providing a program overview and to answer questions from potential applicants. All applications were due at the ACOG office on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Submitted CERI applications were reviewed and evaluated by the ACOG appointed CERI Review Committee on Monday, March 22.

The Committee consisted of the following individuals:

  • Jane Jenkins, Pres. & CEO, Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership
  • Christy Elkins, SR. Manager for Community Development, OG&E
  • Buffy Hughes, Director, Oklahoma Main Street Center, ODOC
  • Mark W. Sweeney, AICP, Executive Director, ACOG

On March 25, 2021, the ACOG Board of Directors approved three demonstration site projects that were recommended by the CERI Review Committee. The ACOG member cities selected for the CERI Program are as follows: City of Harrah, City of Guthrie, and City of El Reno.


The CERI Program does not offer grant funding but does offer planning consultant services with a strategic emphasis on community identity and placemaking.

The projects awarded will include:

  • Planning Consultant Services to be provided by the University of Oklahoma IQC at a funding level not to exceed $26,700 per demonstration site. IQC will be given the flexibility to redirect funding between demo sites to address specific project needs
  • Assistance and support services from the Oklahoma Main Street Center, where applicable, will be made available to the selected applicants


City of Harrah | View Application

  • Project Name: Downtown Sweeney’s Switch
  • Project Type: Town Center Development/Redevelopment
  • Project Summary: The City of Harrah adopted a Comprehensive Plan in 2017 to guide the local leaders and City Staff in the direction the residents want the City to develop. The plan emphasizes infill development, increased density, community events, and walkability within the downtown area. Having a well-designed downtown plan that will embrace growth and pay tribute to the history of Harrah is the primary objective.
“We strongly believe with the development of a downtown plan we can retain our core values as we gain prosperity for the region. We want people of all ages and abilities to enjoy our downtown area. The project has overwhelming support from local civic and service organizations, and city staff as well as the citizens of Harrah.” Tracy Qualls, Economic Development Director, City of Harrah

City of Guthrie | View Application

  • Project Name: Noble Park Cultural and Recreational Area
  • Project Type: Special District Study/Recreational Project
  • Project Summary: The Noble Park Cultural and Recreational Area commonly known as “Noble Park,” has historical and cultural importance within the African American community in the City of Guthrie and State of Oklahoma. Located in the heart of Guthrie, this neighborhood was abandoned after the flooding of Cottonwood Creek, a century ago. This project would aggregate various plans that have been brought forward over the years for educational and recreational opportunities for the land, in addition to creating a connective hub for pedestrians and bicycle users from the west side, east side, and downtown of the City.
“Being able to conveniently and safely access retail and essential services without the necessity of a motor vehicle would significantly add to the quality of life for residents of the entire community. Being able to do so while focusing and celebrating the African American community of our City and State truly makes this a game-changing project for the diversity and economic resiliency of our City. Our desire is for this CERI program to aid the City and local stakeholders in expanding and refining plans for this area to truly be a game-changing resource for cultural tourism/education, recreation, and transportation.” Justin Fortney, Tourism and Community Development Director, City of Guthrie

City of El Reno | View Application

  • Project Name: Route 66/Sunset Drive Corridor
  • Project Type: Corridor Study
  • Project Summary: The proposed planning demonstration would be a corridor study of Route 66/Sunset Drive as it travels west from Historic Downtown El Reno to S. Country Club Rd. This mile section of Route66 contains several existing buildings, signs, and sign frames which were iconic at the high-point of the Route 66 craze, and several undeveloped or underdeveloped sites, which when developed, will add to the authenticity and practicality of Route 66 cultural heritage tourism in El Reno, Oklahoma.
 “We have the unique opportunity to match one of our greatest opportunities for investment with a great area of need. This corridor is the most enduring stretch of Route 66 in El Reno. Investment in this area has the potential to have regional, national, and worldwide significance, because of the international appeal of the Mother Road. This planning demonstration gives El Reno a chance to tell its Route 66 story and add a new chapter.” Dustin Downey, AICP, City Planner, City of El Reno


The next steps of this process will include ACOG procuring an interlocal agreement with the University of Oklahoma IQC to provide planning consultant services to each for each of these selected demo sites.   After that agreement is signed, ACOG will then complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each of the selected communities.

Work on the CERI projects will commence in the Spring of 2021 and are on a timetable to be complete in Spring of 2022.

For more information, please contact Rachel Meinke, Public Information Director.

Staff Contacts

Rachel Meinke

Public Information Director

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