The economic development business long ago abandoned the idea of a level playing field. Communities with active industrial trusts routinely write large checks to recruit jobs and retailers to their cities. Norman lost out on a corporate office relocation to San Antonio after Texas wrote a check to sweeten the deal.
With the exception of some state programs that rebate a percent of salaries and one that creates a tax fund with an employer’s state withholding, Norman has few incentives to lure business here. The prevailing attitude has been Norman’s quality of life, vibrant university community and good schools make us attractive enough.
For many years, Moore has provided incentives. The recent I-Max theatre and Target store are examples. Edmond is actively considering entering the game.
Now, Norman Chamber of Commerce officials and some elected leaders are looking to create an economic development trust that will provide incentives for businesses wanting to come here. “We must be able to offer what other communities are offering,” Sean Rieger, the chamber’s chairman, told board members this past week.
Details of such an entity are in the making. We suggest transparency in all dealings, both in the formation of such a trust and its operation. Residents want quality jobs and development but not at any price.