Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Firm Carves Niche in Economic Incentives

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Firm Carves Niche in Economic Incentives

Article excerpt

When D. Chris Saxon joined the economic incentives consultants Strategic Solutions Group, President Douglas A. Wright set a goal of obtaining 20 clients over five years.

Saxon reached the mark his first year.

"SSG has secured $268 million in cash refunds for companies in the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program," said Wright, a certified public accountant who, before starting SSG in 2005, made a career of seeking out and securing such tax benefits at WilTel Communications and Amoco.

"Even more important, we've put over $40 million back in the hands of the companies producing the wealth," he said. "That's the real sign of our success."

With its revenue up 50 percent this year to a projected $500,000, the five-employee company has set its sites on doubling its 50- client base over the next five years. To do that, the Tulsa firm has added a corporate lending division, is extending its customer base into neighboring states and has started work to open an Oklahoma City office in 2008.

That would allow Strategic Solutions Group to carve a bigger share of firms seeking returns from Quality Jobs incentives, the Oklahoma New Job-New Investment Credit, the Oklahoma Property Tax Abatement Program or the Training for Industry Program.

Wright estimated SSG now handles about 25 percent of the state's Quality Jobs applications, but has only about three clients in central Oklahoma. So Executive Vice President and CPA Jerry L. Dodson, Saxon and others have started traveling to Oklahoma City on a regular basis to build relationships and seek new business. Wright expects to open an office there when the company raises its client base to around 12, which could happen by midyear.

"One thing about this business is that it's very slow to take off," said Dodson, who is Wright's father-in-law. "We've got a lot more potential clients in Oklahoma City right now. We haven't yet got their contracts signed."

Getting a Quality Jobs application approved can take six months, with another three months or more needed to file a client's first report. Only then does SSG get paid, since it works on a contingency basis.

Since it monitors client results and compliance with state regulations under the programs, Dodson expects this work to result in working relationship over a decade or more - an important point, since Saxon said the failure rate in Quality Jobs is quite high.

"It's staggering how many companies haven't received any money or have failed to file all their requirements," he said. By not keeping up with regular filings, many companies have failed to collect millions in rebates - which helps the knowledge and expertise of an incentives consultant like SSG justifies itself to the client's bottom line. …

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