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January 25, 2013

Center expected to boost economy

Development will put Norman on the map

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.

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