The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 16, 2014

City officials not making the right economic moves

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The following is in response to Edd Painter’s recent letter, “NEDC making right incentive moves.”

Mr. Painter has it wrong. Neither the Norman Economic Development Coalition (NEDC) nor the city did its homework on the IMMY deal.  As Councilmember Jungman pointed out in an earlier letter, the NEDC attempt at fiscal impact analysis was rife with both calculation and conceptual errors.  Mr. Painter not only fails to rebut these points; his letter suffers from similar mistakes.

The main conceptual error in Mr. Painter’s analysis was his thinking that the property would stay fallow if the IMMY deal wasn’t done. The NEDC has already spent a good deal of money making this site attractive to firms. It is a prime location with great infrastructure. IMMY is a well run firm, so it wouldn’t move to a marginal location for a mere $770,000. These facts point to the conclusion that IMMY was likely to purchase the property even without the discount (they can’t admit this, of course, without also admitting that they ‘put one over’ on Norman).  

It is vital to see that even if IMMY had passed on the property, some other firm would have made the purchase.  On the assumption that the NEDC did its job in preparing the site, the marginal cost of losing IMMY itself would be minimal.  To put it more bluntly, if IMMY in particular was really the linchpin for the whole development then the NEDC put the city in a terrible position and we need to get a new outreach organization.

Even if the foregoing is wrong, it wouldn’t be clear that the IMMY deal was worth making.  It is entirely possible that we would have been better off leaving that part of the TIF empty rather than paying someone to occupy it.  We don’t have any decent evidence to establish that attracting IMMY to the site with a discount was superior to leaving the site undeveloped.  

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