NORMAN — The Norman City Council will consider a resolution this week expressing its intent to form an economic development trust with the citizens as the beneficiary. The trust is similar to the authority that governs Norman Regional Hospital, only instead of providing health care, the new trust would foster economic development in Norman.
Tuesday’s request came from the council’s business and community affairs committee, headed by Councilman Hal Ezell. If approved, the next step is to appoint five trustees to lead the Norman Economic Development Authority.
Two of the positions are representatives of the Norman Economic Development Coalition and the Norman Chamber of Commerce. The other three — appointed by the mayor and approved by the council — must have a background in law, banking, commercial finance or accounting.
Cleveland County has similar trust authorities but would be conflicted if a competition arose between neighboring communities. Norman and Moore might be competing for the same business, and county trustees would be hard pressed to support either one.
We’ve been assured the trust would operate as a transparent entity, subject to the state’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act. No funding has been mentioned, but the council could commit funds available from the economic development portion of any TIF agreements.
A new trust won’t end all of our community’s economic challenges but it gives business leaders another mechanism to use when attempting to recruit or retain industry. It’s one more tool that communities use to help promote economic development with financing and commitments that cities and towns can’t provide on their own. The plan looks to make good sense for Norman.