You Don’t Have to Go Out of Town to Find an Expert

Making Headlines: Janet Selser

I’ll admit: I don’t always make the decision to shop local.

Online retailers have introduced me to the ease and endless variety that appears at the push of a button. More than once, I’ve found myself clicking through websites only to land in a virtual shopping cart facing the big question: Could I find this locally?

Shop local campaigns have swept across the country, embraced by retailers, main street organizations, chambers of commerce and consumers alike. It is no mystery why. Communities like Tulsa have felt the negative economic impact of e-commerce. In addition to the loss of sales tax revenue, brick and mortar stores suffer and competition is increasingly fierce for the attention of local customers.

However, even with the enthusiasm and success experienced by local retail, little has been said about supporting local professional service companies.

Much in the same way I find myself on that virtual shopping cart page, I have experienced moments on community boards and in planning sessions when the virtues of bringing in a consultant from a large national company are being praised; yet no one, myself included, raises the question, “Do we have an expert in our own backyard?”

This is not to dispute the value a perspective from outside our region can bring. But let’s not underestimate the immense value gained from a local company with not only a wealth of knowledge on our community, but also a desire to see our city thrive.

We must recognize the pool of untapped talent right here at home. Tulsa-based professional services companies are often overlooked for exciting, cutting-edge and creative projects. Big-city firms may have built-in prestige that comes with an office in St Louis, Chicago, or New York, but could that same level of expertise be found right here in the Tulsa area?

Could it be the reason some of our local companies have not been given the same acclaim as the major players in Los Angeles and Dallas is that the citizens of Tulsa have not given them the opportunities to shine?

Whether it be accounting, engineering or architecture, Tulsa’s professional service companies are made of some of the brightest and most creative individuals with a deep sense of purpose toward bettering our community.

I encourage you to look first at the talent we have in Tulsa. As our city works hard every day to recruit and retain top-notch professional service providers, we as business decision makers, must make an intentional effort to utilize the remarkable talents at our fingertips.

So while we continue to buy local when it comes to our groceries, apparel and furnishings, let us also buy local when it comes to our consultants and marketers. To our city’s business leaders, I urge you to seek local professional services. You won’t be disappointed and you will be adding fuel to Tulsa’s talent pool, growth momentum and the entrepreneurial spirit that made Tulsa what it is today.

Janet Selser is an architect and the co-founder and president of Selser Schaefer Architects in Tulsa. Selser Schaefer Architects draws upon years of experience and evidence-based best practices to design environments that support and create community. She is also a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces by board members appear in this space each week.

This article was published in the Tulsa World.