Bland: 'This is the time to take action'

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The executive director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce on July 13 told the City Council that the community needs additional business development in the area of visitor transportation.

“Pawhuska is becoming a destination – such that people are booking flights to Tulsa and then getting an Uber to bring them to Pawhuska, only to discover that once Uber drops them off, there is not another Uber around to make their stay enjoyable,” Chamber Executive Kelly Bland said in her July 2021 report. The Chamber of Commerce handles economic development projects for city government.

Bland reported that the Chamber had made contact with several transportation companies that serve the Bartlesville and Tulsa areas, and efforts are under way to make information about those companies available for visitors to Pawhuska. She pointed out, however, that the companies are not local.

“Our goal is to have Pawhuska businesses which are locally owned,” Bland said. “This is a business opportunity just waiting for the right investors and entrepreneurs to put a plan in motion.”

Another transportation issue she discussed was looking into the availability of grant funding opportunities to finance improvements to the Pawhuska airport, to make it more appealing for groups traveling in corporate and other private jets. She said she would be reaching out to Skiatook, which has made airport improvements, for grant information.

Bland said potential investors are visiting or calling weekly, and that the time is ripe for Pawhuska to make economic progress.

“The game has changed suddenly – and the money is here,” Bland reported. “It’s time to say we are open for business at the city of Pawhuska.”

Bland spoke of a desire to develop Pawhuska into “a destination that is not built solely on The Pioneer Woman; to grow the base; to brand Pawhuska as a vacation destination that will outlive The Pioneer Woman brand life – while successfully and professionally incorporating The Pioneer Woman into the broader base.”

Bland emphasized now is the time for Pawhuska’s leadership to act, before the release of the major motion picture that Martin Scorsese has been filming in Osage County.

“We have a window of time before the movie is released – to envision, to plan, and to implement that plan,” Bland said. “We know it’s coming. We have the heads-up. This is the time to take action.”