Lean On Me: Broken Arrow Businesses Lend One Another a Helping Hand
Strong support network helps small businesses build big futures.
Locals and visitors in downtown Broken Arrow only have to follow the mouth-watering aroma of made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and freshly brewed coffee to arrive at the popular Laurannae Baking Co.
The locally owned espresso and pastry bar sits on West Commercial Street in the heart of the historic Rose District. In addition to tantalizing pastries, the charming small business is known for its locally roasted beans, modern spin on cake designs and warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The Rose District — the name is a nod to the area's past when it was called the City of Roses — is a pedestrian-friendly area landscaped with colorful roses, blooming with nearly 50 independently owned shops, restaurants and mixed-use developments.
Born and raised in Broken Arrow, Laurannae Baking owner Kim Washburn says the strong sense of community and support from the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation were important reasons why her family opened the doors to their business in her hometown in 2012.
"I could go on and on about Broken Arrow, but it is the absolute only place I would want to have a business and raise our family," Washburn says.
Others agree, as Yelp, an online company that connects consumers to companies by crowd-sourced reviews, recognized the city in 2016 as one of the top-10 customer-friendly small businesses and communities in America.
Washburn and her husband, Stephen, own a second company, LBCO properties, formed when they purchased the building that houses Laurannae Baking Co. and other tenants.
The dynamic entrepreneurs soon plan to move their kitchen within the building. The newly opened space will create more seating and extend the bakery's offerings. Future undertakings include adding a large covered patio in the alley behind the building, equipped with a fireplace and heaters so the space can be used year-round.
A strong ally from the beginning of all their endeavors has been the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.
"The Chamber of Commerce has always rallied around us and provided the support — whatever it is we needed," she says.
Startups can find a strong team in their corner from the local chamber and economic development staff. The chamber serves as a connector and clearinghouse of resources and information to help new businesses with their educational needs, including a chamber-hosted luncheon focused on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and connecting owners with resources such as SCORE, a volunteer organization that assists individuals in business and those starting a business, and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center in Broken Arrow.
"The Chamber of Commerce has always rallied around us and provided the support — whatever it is we needed."
Kim Washburn, Laurannae Baking Co.
Other services include networking opportunities, promotional assistance, property location and providing demographic and workforce research data.
"Entrepreneurs are drawn to Broken Arrow because of the service sector that exists to help set up small businesses in an intimate suburban climate. It is a collaborative environment dedicated to seeing all businesses thrive," says Darla Heller, Vice President of Economic Development at the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.
Ready to Support
Chamber steps up to help businesses with COVID-19 disruption.
When the small businesses in Broken Arrow were negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce was proactive in determining their needs and conducted numerous virtual roundtable meetings and surveys.
BA Rising, an economic task force, was formed by the chamber's economic development arm to assist with the Small Business Economic Recovery Microgrants program. Funding for the program came from the Broken Arrow Economic Development Corporation, the chamber and the city.
Money was used to help with rent, mortgages, utilities, cleaning, sanitation and more. Thirty-eight businesses received microgrants, totaling $160,000, which was divided among seven business sectors, including:
- Recreation (7): $30,300
- Restaurants (10): $46,100
- Entertainment (3): $7,900
- Service (6): $23,500
- Retail (5): $21,000
- Salons (6): $26,200
- Manufacturing (1): $5,000
"It was vital we help meet the needs of our businesses," says Jennifer Conway, the chamber's president and CEO.
If you'd like to learn more about the Broken Arrow, OK area, check out the latest edition of Livability Broken Arrow, OK.