Nominations Are Now Open!


REI Oklahoma’s Dream BIG Oklahoma event has opened nominations for the event’s top three awards: Dr. Fern Green-Bowling Diamond Award, Dream Big Award, and the coveted Vision Award.


(OKLAHOMA CITY, April 9, 2024) – REI Oklahoma, an economic development nonprofit serving all 77 counties, has announced that nominations are now open for the top three awards at their annual Dream BIG Oklahoma event. Nominations will be accepted through May 30, 2024. Award winners will be celebrated at the annual event scheduled for Tuesday, October 1, 2024, at the Grand Casino Resort in Shawnee, Oklahoma.


Dream BIG is an annual statewide event hosted by REI Oklahoma to showcase the ‘best of the best’ who help build, invest in, and grow Oklahoma’s economy. The event recognizes individuals, small businesses, corporations, and other organizations making a significant impact in economic development and for their commitment to serving others.


Anyone may nominate an individual, entrepreneur, business, or organization meeting the established criteria for each award. Individual nominees must be from Oklahoma, and a business or organization nominee must have been established in Oklahoma with one or more current locations in the state.


The Dr. Fern Green-Bowling Diamond Award recognizes a woman in business who has served as a shining example to others and has made a significant impact in her business and community. Past winners include Aly Cunningham, Happy Plate Concepts; Mary Billings, Elote Café and Catering; Robin Roberson, Goose and Gander; and Kathy Robinson, Schoolware, Inc.


The Dream Big Award recognizes an individual, business, or organization that is not afraid to “dream big” by making a substantial difference in their community, state, or where it is needed most. Past winners include Marcus Ude, Universal Development Enterprise; Miss Mary’s Market; Barbara Whinery and the 4RKids Foundation; and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives’ “Electrifying Guatemala Project”.


Finally, REI Oklahoma’s Vision Award recognizes an organization, business, or other entity that has indeed transitioned its dreams and visions into reality while enhancing Oklahoma’s economy. Past winners include Kimray and The Kimmell Foundation; Governor Bill Anoatubby and the Chickasaw Nation; John A. “Rocky “Barrett and Citizen Potawatomi Nation; and the Green Family and Hobby Lobby.


Last year’s Dream Big Award Winner was Marcus Ude of Universal Development Enterprise. Marcus played a part in building 31 tiny homes for Pivot – A Turning Point for Youth. When Marcus learned there were young people living on their own and did not have a stable place to call home, he wanted to be an active part in addressing the issue. Initially he joined a volunteer group to build the first 11 tiny home for Pivot, A Turning Point for Youth. As he learned more about this young people, he committed to being the project’s general contractor to see it through to complete 31 total homes.


“When you hear the words ‘Dream Big,’ Marcus automatically comes to mind,” said Jennifer Goodrich, CEO of Pivot and who nominated Marcus for last year’s Dream Big award. “Each of those houses represents a young person’s story, it’s a safe and stable place that he helped create so that those young people can live out their dreams.”


Those interested in nominating someone for one of these three awards may visit REI Oklahoma’s website at They may also go directly to the nominations page at Nominations will close at 5pm on May 30, 2024.


“REI Oklahoma has been actively involved in our state’s economic development ecosystem since 1982,” said Sherry Harlin, REI Oklahoma’s chief operating officer. “We see first-hand the dedication and tenacity it takes to not only create and build a business, but to do it in a way that positively impacts a community and, in some instances, the state.”


Sponsorship opportunities are now available for this year’s Dream BIG Oklahoma event. For more information about the nomination process or for sponsorship information, the community may call 800-658-2823 or email



About REI Oklahoma

Since 1982, REI Oklahoma has focused on cultivating an environment conducive to economic growth and job creation. As a statewide organization, REI Oklahoma understands the importance of adapting to specific community needs, respecting community culture, and addressing the barriers many Oklahomans face. REI Oklahoma’s headquarters are in Durant, with additional offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. With the various point of entry to access services to REI Oklahoma, regardless of where a client enters, they have access to all REI Oklahoma programs. These programs include Business Lending, Housing Down Payment Assistance Program, Minority Business Center, New Market Tax Credit Program, and the Women’s Business Center. To learn more about REI Oklahoma, visit or call 800-658-2823. Follow REI Oklahoma on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.




  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories