Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sleepers May Have Edge in Defense Center Competition

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sleepers May Have Edge in Defense Center Competition

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City's and Tulsa's bids for U.S. Defense Department accounting centers appear to be among the strongest, but Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce officials say proposals by some other cities could be real sleepers because little is known about their offers.

Gary Pence of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce put New Orleans, Shreveport, La., Jackson, Miss., and Pensacola, Fla., in the sleeper category, as well as San Bernadino, Calif.

And even the knowns in the competition may not be that certain, Pence said.

"A lot of this stuff may be misinformation," he said.

In the 20-city competition for the 4,000-7,000-job centers, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton are going up against contenders with a lot of advantages and a lot of unknowns.

Cleveland, Indianapolis, Denver and Columbus, Ohio, have the benefit of having existing Defense Department accounting centers. The Pentagon could save closing and relocation costs if it put the new centers there.

Denver economic officials are openly skeptical of their chances, however, given their voters' approval last year of a tax measure that will make it difficult for Denver to raise taxes to fund incentives for a center.

The Defense Department has given the candidates until Feb. 19 to prove they can fund their proposals.

Voters in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties and Lawton decide Feb. 9 whether to raise their sales taxes a penny to bring a center to their community.

The Oklahoma Legislature, which convened Monday, has to decide whether it will kick in $100 million to $200 million to each cities' offer.

While funding proposals for the three Oklahoma cities are similar, the packages are different. Tulsa is fighting for a 7,000-job facility. All other cities, including Oklahoma City and Lawton, bid for a smaller, 4,000-job site or for both the 4,000 and the 7,000-job facility. …

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