By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — An investment in Norman’s business future continues to unfold in the University North Park TIF district.
On Wednesday, the Norman Economic Development Coalition was joined by dignitaries and city leaders to break ground on the UNP Corporate Center and Advanced Manufacturing Center.
“This has been such a joint effort by so many people,” NEDC Executive Director Don Wood said.
The groundbreaking kicks off Phase 2 of the Town Center Development. Phase 1 brought retail, hotels and Legacy Park to the development located along 24th Avenue Northwest, north of Robinson Street.
Phase 2 will begin with infrastructure to support a business park and manufacturing center, with the goal of bringing quality jobs to Norman. IMMY, a local business in the health industries technology, is expanding and will be the first tenant in the park, bringing new jobs at an average of $50,000 in annual salary.
When the UNP TIF was established in May 2006, a portion of the diverted taxes was set aside to help bring jobs to Norman. When complete, the Corporate and Advanced Manufacturing centers will include six multi-story office buildings offering more than 350,00 square feet of space and another 400,000-plus square feet of manufacturing space.
“We anticipate this will create a home for over 2,000 new quality jobs to Norman,” NEDC board chair George Wilson said.
United States Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, was there Wednesday to offer his congratulations to Norman. Inhofe said he is one of the most conservative members of the Senate, but he supports government funding of defense and infrastructure.
“This is what we’re supposed to be doing,” Inhofe said.
In 2012, the NEDC won $2.5 million from the U.S. Economic Development Authority to assist with infrastructure for the business and industrial park. The EDA provides money to communities that match federal dollars with local funds. The total infrastructure is about $5 million.
“It’s a good program,” Inhofe said. “In Oklahoma, we perform miracles.”
The overall project cost is around $27 million. Wilson said the project was not designed to compete with local developers but will be an office park with “large sites and Class A amenities.”
“We expect this project to provide Norman a competitive advantage over other competing communities,” Wilson said.
The vision for economic growth must be supported with strong private sector participation, according to Pedro Garza of the EDA.
Garza was a one-time migrant worker who rose to have a position with the EDA’s 5th District.
“We know that infrastructure is the key to development and growth,” Garza said. “We’re builders in EDA.”
Garza said it is gratifying to be able to match local dollars and help make the hopes and dreams of communities a reality.
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