The Norman Transcript

March 8, 2013

Brown bag lunch series big hit with builders, subcontractors

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Local builders, subcontractors and city staff have been brown bagging it and liking it, Norman Development Coordinator Terry Floyd said.

A series of brown bag luncheons set up with the Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma has been a big success, BASCO representative Sean Rieger said. Floyd and other members of city staff designed the casual lunch and learn dates as opportunities for developers, contractors and home builders to discuss inspection issues with city staff.

“We’ve received positive responses from the lunches and feel that items of importance from both the city and BASCO are being addressed,” Floyd said.

Floyd said the idea for the lunches was a joint effort between BASCO representatives and Planning Director Susan Connors and her staff.

“She and her staff are very involved in these lunches,” Floyd said. “They are the experts.”

The lunches allow for a dialogue to clear the air and answer questions from both sides. City staff is able to answer key questions about the city’s building code while getting input from business people most impacted by that code.

“Any interested person is welcome to attend the meetings with their lunch, if they would like, and no RSVP is needed,” Floyd said.

People attending bring their own lunches.

“It literally is a brown bag lunch,” Floyd said.

Two monthly meetings have been on residential electrical inspections, with discussion on temporary pole requirements, light fixture mounts, nail plate use and outlet placement, Floyd told the Business and Community Affairs committee Thursday morning.

“The meetings have allowed for an open dialogue between the staff, builders and contractors that allows a better understanding of what is needed for a project to be successful,” Floyd said. “As we continue holding these meetings, the dialogue will only continue to get better and lead to a better understanding of the issues that are a part of any development project.”

The next brown bag meeting will be March 27 and will address residential plumbing requirements. Future topics will include residential, building and mechanical requirements.

In other business, council members of the Business and Community Affairs committee fine-tuned economic development policy to be brought forward to the full city council, most likely at an April city council study session.

The BACA committee also discussed a possible survey to gather information from the business community to better serve needs of the city’s business customers who use city permitting, planning, inspection and property development services.

The proposed anonymous survey could be used as a program evaluation, to monitor performance, to gather targeted input, build goodwill and more. City leaders discussed using an outside consultant to create questions to get unbiased and well-formulated questions that would most benefit the city.

Norman Economic Development Coalition Executive Director Don Wood suggested that the survey also reach out to businesses that had stopped doing business with Norman over a period of years.

“This may not actually tell you reality, but it will tell you perception, and perception is what we’re trying to fix,” Wood said.

Joy Hampton



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