The Tulsa Regional Chamber recently promoted Jennifer Hankins to vice president of entrepreneurship and small business. Hankins joined the Chamber’s economic development team in March 2017 as director of The Forge, the Chamber’s accredited business incubator.
“Jennifer has been a valuable asset to the Chamber’s economic development efforts,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “We look forward to her leadership in enhancing opportunities for northeast Oklahoma’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
In her new role, Hankins works with area partners to grow the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, assists local startups by removing barriers to their growth, and manages day-to-day operations of The Forge. She also provides oversight to the Tulsa Small Business Connection, a Tulsa Regional Chamber program that educates and empowers businesses with 50 employees or fewer.
Prior to joining the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Hankins was manager of business retention and expansion for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She is a native of Kansas City and holds a bachelor of political science degree from Oklahoma State University.
The Chamber also announced the hiring of Colleen Almeida Smith as executive director of the Tulsa Small Business Connection. In this capacity, Almeida Smith will provide support and resources to the Chamber’s small business members.
“We are thrilled to welcome Colleen to the team,” said Hankins. “Colleen has spent her career building relationships with area businesses, and we’re confident she will help us drive the Connection’s goal to further the economic opportunity and prosperity of small businesses in our region.”
Almeida Smith worked at the Tulsa World for more than 25 years, most recently as business editor. She serves on the boards of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and Leadership Tulsa, where she is vice president of programming. She grew up in Sapulpa and attended Mills College in Oakland, California, where she graduated with honors.