EDMOND — Members of the Edmond Economic Development Authority asked the city council this week to adopt incentives for retail owners opening a business in Edmond, or local businesses that expand.
City council and Edmond Economic Development Authority members said they want to be competitive with other cities in the area that are working to entice businesses.
“Everything has gotten so competitive, at least on the retail side,” said Janet Yowell, Edmond Economic Development Authority executive director.
City Councilman Nick Massey said, “This will make a big difference. They are always asking what can you do.”
Incentives will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, council members were told this week during a workshop.
Two sets of incentives have been proposed and will be voted on by the city council early next year.
Business, retail plan
Under the business and retail plan, economic assistance would be available to new and existing retail, commercial developers and owners who build or expand in target areas of the city.
Target areas are described as places that are underutilized, vacant and/or in danger of becoming blighted areas, or areas where there is a demonstrated need for additional retail or commercial development.
The suggested focus would be in the downtown Edmond corridor, along Broadway from Ninth Street north to Ayers; Edmond Road/Second Street from Saints Boulevard west to Santa Fe Avenue; and the Interstate 35 corridor.
“The plan will not be confined to the target areas,” Yowell said.
Retail and commercial businesses that will provide additional sales tax revenue to the city would be candidates for incentives.
Economic assistance for retail and commercial businesses could come from the reimbursement of infrastructure costs; waiving building permit, inspection and connection fees; facade improvement programs for downtown reinvestment; or Edmond Electric and Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority special rates and programs.
Another incentive could be to speed up planned public infrastructure projects to help the new retail or commercial business.
City officials have budgeted for this fiscal year $650,000 of Edmond Electric's money for economic development incentives, but there has not been a detailed policy for the program in place.
The second part of the plan focuses on primary jobs — jobs that produce a product or service for use in or outside the Edmond area. Such companies would be software, back-office services, light manufacturing and medical office or laboratory-related facilities.
A qualified company must achieve $750,000 in new annualized payroll for new, full-time employees. Over a two-year period, employees must average $40,000 a year.
Once the threshold has been achieved, the company may be eligible to receive a percentage of the new payroll on that anniversary date for the next two years as long as the payroll has been maintained, Yowell proposed.
“Everything is performance-based,” Massey said. “No checks are written up front.”