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01-25-2013, 12:51 PM
Center expected to boost economy » Headlines » The Norman Transcript (

NORMAN — an $11 million development including manufacturing and corporate business parks will put Norman on the map as an Economic Development District, according to a recent release by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

The anticipated regional impact of jobs creation by the project resulted in a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Authority.

“We hope to break ground by March,” said Norman Economic Development Coalition Executive Director Don Wood, whose organization heads the collaborative effort.

Engineering plans for the University North Park projects were done by Tom McCaleb, P.E., and SMC Consulting Engineers, P.C.

The EDA uses investment funds for critical infrastructure for projects that have a significant impact on job creation. The federal agency keys in on regional job providers.

“Norman is the provider of jobs in this region,” Wood said. “We (the NEDC) provide a lot of jobs in the region, and that is part of the reason we got the grant. We have a track record of doing that.”

NEDC also owns the Norman Business Park, located four-and-a-half miles east of Interstate 35 on State Highway 9, and the adjacent 44-acre site in the former Saxon Business Park.

“Our project was identified as one that should be developed,” Wood said. “That made us eligible to apply for EDA grants.”

The entire project will encompass 60 acres owned by the NEDC, but the city of Norman will own the infrastructure built with the money from the EDA grant. Because of that, Norman was a co-applicant. The Norman City Council approved acceptance of the $2.5 million on Oct. 23.

The average wage for the University North Park project is expected to be in the $50,000 to $70,000 range.

The University North Park Advanced Manufacturing Center is a 30-acre business park with a target market including aerospace, medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“We’re negotiating with a company right now that’s looking at doing something in that park,” Wood said.

The other half of the development will be the University North Park Corporate Centre, which will offer six pad sites, a large water feature, state-of-the-art telecommunications and airport access.

The NEDC projects high-wage jobs for college graduates in that portion of the park. The Corporate Centre will target technology companies as part of its audience.

“That’s our target for the office park,” Wood said. “The Advanced Manufacturing Center will be advanced jobs for manufacturing.”

Rock Creek road is the south boundary of the project, with the airport as the east boundary and 24th Avenue Northwest as west boundary.

“It will be just off I-35, so it’s easy access for people coming to the region to the jobs there,” Wood said. “It’s a great development area. It’s a great neighborhood for this to be in.”

Also in partnership with the NEDC and the city of Norman to develop this regional job center are the University of Oklahoma, Westheimer Airport, the Moore Norman Technology Center and the Sooner Centurions, a committee of the chamber of commerce. ACOG helped facilitate the application process.

The business parks will unfold over time as more tenants make it home.

“We’re in the bidding process and (are) trying to determine how much infrastructure we have to put in,” Wood said.

The NEDC will put in as much infrastructure as needed to get up and rolling and more will be added as needed.

“We’re finishing up the loan to pay for the balance of the improvements,” he said. “We hope that this will be a great project for the community and generate a lot of good-paying jobs for our citizens.”

01-25-2013, 12:54 PM
This is outstanding news IMHO!

If done right this will eventually help slow the brain drain that has been forcing many OU graduates to leave their families behind to find quality employment. It will make the Norman area more prosperous. Over the long run it helps the intellectual and research growth of OU. This will help OU’s efforts to gain AAU membership. It creates a better atmosphere for spin off jobs from OU research.

State and local incentives will help but this means that local educators will need to aim their priorities toward academic programs that actually produce large numbers of high wage employable graduates. This probably means that cuts will be needed to programs that don’t see many new graduates in high wage jobs in our state.

This investment is an example of, what we create is what we will eventually become. I am happy to see that we now have leaders who have enough vision to create this. No doubt they will need better resource in the future to fully capitalize on future opportunities.
I wish they would have been this aggressive decades ago.

Plutonic Panda
01-25-2013, 09:20 PM
Good for Norman!!!!!!! Love to see other Oklahoma cities prosper beside just OKC itself. Keep it up! :)