TIL Post

Thank you, Tulsa: A letter from our founder and managing director

Dear Friends,

When I founded Tulsa Innovation Labs four years ago, it was based on a simple idea: for Tulsa to become the tech hub it aspired to be, we needed to invest in our right-to-win industries—our tech niche. Through hard work, some big wins, and the support of local partners, we have proven this to be a successful approach, and I’m gratified to see increasing alignment with our sister organizations.

In just four years, look at what we’ve accomplished together:

  • Established the first tech-led economic development strategy in Tulsa’s history.
  • Raised more than $215 million from public, private, and social sector partners.
  • Created 14 initiatives to develop Tulsa’s virtual health, energy tech, advanced air mobility, and cyber clusters.
  • Projected to create or place up to 10,000 jobs—53% of which are accessible without a bachelor’s degree.

Together, we’re building a national model for inclusive, tech-led growth. And we’re showing that midsized cities anywhere in America can carve out a niche for themselves in the innovation economy.

To achieve sustainable impact, however, we must stay the course. We must continue to make data-driven decisions, invest in our local institutions, and prioritize outcomes over outputs. As our impact report made clear, if TIL keeps doing what it’s doing, then Tulsa is on track for significant and inclusive economic growth.

As I reflect on TIL’s first four years, I am amazed by what we’ve accomplished together. And as I look at the team we’ve built, I am filled with pride. It gives me great confidence in TIL’s future as I transition away from my full-time operating role into a part-time advisory role. My last day as TIL’s managing director will be July 31st.

Leading the next chapter in TIL’s history is Jennifer Hankins. Jenn has been my deputy from the very beginning, and I am so proud of her. She was instrumental in Tulsa winning the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant and launching EIC Rose Rock, with support from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Devon, Williams, and ONEOK. With a masterful understanding of the city and region and deep economic development experience, Jenn is the leader TIL needs now.

As for me, over the next year or so I will be working on my “next big thing.” I’m excited to share it with you when the time is right. Stay tuned and keep in touch! You can reach me at my personal email address: nicholas.lalla@gmail.com.

Thanks for taking a chance on an impatient outsider like me. I hope I made you proud.

With heartfelt thanks,

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