MIDWEST CITY — A $1 million federal grant has local government going where few private-sector developers can afford to go with Soldier Creek Business & Industrial Park.
The money, provided to the city of Midwest City and the Midwest City Utilities Authority by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will be combined with local funds to pay for infrastructure including grading, storm drainage and water and sewer service access for the 44-acre parcel.
The combination of federal funding and direct local government involvement will help shield the project from the kind of risk that is keeping private developers from such investments, said Randy Lacey, vice president and industrial specialist with Grubb & Ellis-Levy Beffort, commercial realty.
High land costs are keeping most private money out of the kind of projects Midwest City and other local governments are working on, Lacey said.
“It's getting very, very difficult for individual developers to buy land, put in infrastructure, sell lots and actually make money,” he said, noting that private developers often get as far as selling a few lots before deciding to woo users and negotiate construction projects themselves.
Billed as “rail ready” because it's close enough to a railroad for a spur, Soldier Creek Business & Industrial Park is seen as a job creator. Officials said the park could create 700 jobs and generate $300 million of private investment.
Having shovel-ready lots with rail access would make it “a unique property” for the Oklahoma City area, said Bob Puckett, industrial broker with Price Edwards & Co.
“There's no other sites like this with the possibility of rail service,” Puckett said. “It could be a critical part of a deal.”
The grant “will support the regional economy and help local small businesses compete, grow and hire, U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson said in a news release. The Economic Development Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Lacey said he sees the project, on the south side of NE 23 between Air Depot and Midwest boulevards, as another key element of eastern Oklahoma County's effort to set itself apart. The Midwest City Chamber of Commerce calls it “East is In.” Choctaw and Harrah also have local government-developed industrial parks, Lacey noted.
“They're trying to brand themselves with ‘East is In' and everything and create an identity,” he said.
The site is in a state Enterprise Zone, which means certain businesses that locate there are eligible for state tax credits and other incentives.
“Midwest City's vision to provide much-needed industrial space that will be able to accommodate diverse sizes and types will provide an attractive option for many companies and bring more jobs to our state,” U.S. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said in the news release. “These federal grants, together with state, local and private-sector funds, make a positive economic impact.”