Lawrence McKinney

Lawrence McKinney

There’s a reason people like to live in Norman and operate businesses here.

We fly the “Oklahoma standard” banner with authentic, friendly, people, boast a talented, skilled workforce and provide an exceptional quality of life, which makes it a great place to raise your family, too.

Those are conversations we have all the time with prospective employers looking for a place to expand or relocate corporate headquarters, but there is more to economic development than recruiting outside companies to Norman.

The fact is, no employers are more important than those already here, and we make a point to ensure local companies have what they need to be successful.

As wonderful as Norman is, we know there are alternative locations, and competitor communities are out there, sizing up our best businesses and looking for opportunities to lure them away.

I do that in their communities, so I know they do that in ours.

That’s why we’ve made Norman’s existing businesses our top priority in Norman’s new strategic plan. Recently, when we learned from our partners at the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance that longtime Norman employer M3 Technology Solutions needed to expand and was considering locations outside of Norman, we immediately went to work.

M3 Technology Solutions (M3T) is a rapidly growing innovator that started in Norman more than two decades ago in a different line of work.

The company now employs more than 30 people (and is looking to hire more) at its Norman headquarters, where it serves an international clientele with a unique line of financial services technology used in casinos, stadiums and municipal buildings worldwide.

Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila, Norman City Manager Darrel Pyle, Norman City Council member Brandi Studley, District County Commissioners Darry Stacy and Rod Cleveland, among others, played significant roles in a series of meetings we had with M3T President Kent Bowden and his leadership team over the last five months.

As a result of everyone’s hard work, M3T found the additional space it needed at 2278 Industrial Blvd. in north Norman.

The company’s new location is three times the size of its previous home and will provide the elbow room necessary for future expansion.

M3T Chief Operating Officer Dylan Waddle said the expansion process was a successful team effort, citing widespread support from multiple agencies in Norman.

He cited access to local suppliers and Norman’s skilled workforce as considerations that made Norman the right decision for this expansion.

“The NEDC played a critical role in our growth and expansion in the city of Norman, including assistance with identifying real estate for manufacturing and assembly, among many other things. We certainly appreciate all of the support from this organization,” he said.

Thank you, but it’s our entire community that should be grateful.

M3T is a high-wage employer that raises our collective standard of living and generates additional indirect employment because of its national and international sales.

This success story is the reason why the coalition exists, and M3T’s decision to stay in Norman is a great example of the success our community can achieve when we all work together.

Lawrence McKinney is president and CEO of the Norman Economic Development Coalition.

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