EDMOND — City council members are looking at incentives to show businesses that Edmond is the place to open up shop.
During a Monday workshop with the Edmond Economic Development Authority, council members said they want to be competitive with other cities in the metro area that are working to entice businesses.
“The message is we are more serious about economic development,” City Manager Larry Stevens said.
“We want them to know we are open for business and we are interested in them looking at what we have,” Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said.
The need to be competitive became evident when Edmond's sales tax collections dropped from a comfortable level of 10 to 11 percent growth to 4.5 percent growth so far this fiscal year. Sales tax money is the city's main source of income.
Incentives could be retail sales tax rebates, infrastructure improvements, fee waivers, matching grants for facades, noncash incentives and public improvement districts.
Janet Yowell, economic authority executive director, gave council members guidelines and criteria that would help create ways to help businesses.
“This will keep Edmond competitive,” Yowell said. “The Edmond Economic Development Authority seeks to create an environment where new or existing companies can thrive and to create a more diversified tax base.”
Business would apply for the incentives through the economic authority.
An example where a sales tax rebate incentive worked was when Edmond and Moore were in competition for Warren Theatres. Moore offered the rebate and got the business, which is thriving and expanding.
Requests for incentives may come into play with the building of a full service hotel and conference center on the northwest corner of Covell Road and Interstate 35.
City officials already had plans to improve Covell Road. They have said they could rebuild a section of the road near the proposed conference center earlier than planned.
Other negotiations between John Weeman, with Partners in Development, Covell 35 Development, Turner and Co. and the city are under way. Those negotiations have not been made public. The team of developers was at the workshop.
Weeman said he was encouraged by what he heard from the council.