The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 11, 2013

City, Chamber at work to grow business base

NORMAN — A Norman Chamber of Commerce and city council push to make Norman a more business-friendly city is apparently making some headway at city hall.

At a meeting Monday, City manager Steve Lewis and Development Coordinator Terry Floyd briefed Chamber of Commerce members on changes in regulations, the two new positions and the recently created economic development advisory board.

The city convened a business and community affairs subcommittee a few years ago, hired Mr. Floyd in 2012 and is looking to fill a retail marketing coordinator position. That person would work to recruit businesses to Norman, much like surrounding cities have done for many years.

Mr. Floyd detailed some of the regulatory changes that effectively fast-tracked projects. City officials took heavy criticism from the chamber in previous years because of a perceived lack of interest or expediency in projects that would generate sales taxes and jobs for Norman.

Chamber members have gotten more active in city affairs and routinely solicit members to volunteer on city boards and commissions.

For years, Norman had the desireable demographics that were attractive to retailers, and the city could afford to play hard to get. Now, surrounding metro cities are growing up. They go out of their way with incentives, tax abatements and other prizes to lure desired stores.

Chamber board members were receptive to the presentations. One commented that the staff had come a long way but still had miles to go before Norman could be deemed competitive for business.

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