Jim is President and CEO of the Ada Jobs Foundation, an accredited economic development organization which serves the area of Ada, Oklahoma. James specializes in developing new programs to support rural entrepreneurship, technology development, and community-focused research. Prior to joining the Ada Jobs Foundation, James was the Executive Director of the Uptown 23rd District Association in Oklahoma City. James is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and he holds a Master’s in Regional and City Planning from the University of Oklahoma.
Jim grew up in Oklahoma City at the height of the Penn Square Bank Oil bust in the 1980's (this entire story is worth a podcast series on its own) and then he moved to NYC at the height of the last recession in 2008. He's now working in a small town in a rural county with no prior experience of living in a non-metro city.
He thinks that the most exciting things are happening in small towns, because all of the lessons we're learning through trial and error in these smaller places at the margins can also be applied to the largest of cities. It's important to recognize that that we have to translate this experience, because the problems and solutions of a large metropolitan area do not scale 1:1 to every rural town.
He also thinks that economic developers should work much more closely with planners to think about how long-range land use planning impacts our ability to help companies decades into the future. Housing, neighborhood development, infrastructure planning, and innovation districts are all vitally important to economic development, and, just like the recent focus on workforce development, we need to spend more time as practitioners learning and working with this field.
September 13th, 2021 | 33 mins 33 secs
anthropology, city planning, econ dev, economic development, small town
Jim Eldridge grew up wanting to be an anthropologist, or a city planner. Instead, he puts both of those skillsets to use as an economic developer in Ada, Oklahoma.