City May Take Front Role in Economic Development

Article excerpt

The City of Oklahoma City should step forward and assume a leadership role in economic development efforts, the mayor and two members of the Oklahoma City Council said Tuesday.

"We need to get in on the ground floor, so City Hall can be doing whatever needs to be done to assist," said Mayor Ron Norick.

Discussion of the city's role in economic development came out of a proposed policy statement submitted to the council's finance committee, indicating the "city should play a supportive, not lead, role."

Ward 8 Councilwoman Jackie Carey said she would rather see the city more involved in economic development activities - and earlier in the process. Ward 3 Councilman Jack Cornett agreed.

"The city should take a lead role," he said. "There is a void there that has developed over the last couple of years. We usually are the last ones to know."

Cornett cited Norick's involvement in the effort to bring a major United Airlines maintenance facility to Oklahoma City as one example of city leadership that should continue.

City Manager Paula Hearn said the city plans to "centralize economic development in the planning department, so an outside entity would have a single point of contact."

Hearn said the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce will seek the finance committee's blessing on an economic development request of $325,000 from the council.

The city operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 included $150,000 for economic development. Hearn is proposing the appropriation be increased to $400,000 for fiscal 1990-91.

"City government, as an integral link to the economic vitality of the community, will provide support and coordination to those efforts which stabilize or enhance employment and business opportunities," according to the draft policy statement prepared by city staff. …