Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Committee Approves Economic Development Bills

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Committee Approves Economic Development Bills

Article excerpt

It was rural economic development day in a House committee Tuesday as members approved several measures aimed at attracting and retaining industry and new residents in small communities.

House Bill 1218, by Rep. Dale Turner, D-Holdenville, would extend state "linked deposit" programs to rural housing, by adding $25 million to the $200 million already set aside for small business and family farming. Under these programs, state deposits are placed in financial institutions that receive a 3 percent interest break which they pass on to borrowers.

State Treasurer Robert Butkin said that former Gov. Henry Bellmon brought to his attention several months ago Oklahoma State University research indicating the critical need for housing in rural areas.

"It is holding back rural economic development," the treasurer told the House Economic Development Committee.

Under Turner's bill, the additional funds would allow the banks to offer low-cost loans to developers and builders in rural areas. No individual loan package could exceed $2 million.

Butkin noted that the new program should cost the state about $750,000 in revenue.

Another Turner measure, House Bill 1869, would devote 30 percent of the housing finance portion of the state's private activity bond allocation cap to rural housing.

Rep. Curt Roggow, R-Enid, explained his House Bill 1895, which would create the Oklahoma Small Community Economic Development Incentive Task Force. This seven-member body would examine incentives currently available to aid small towns in promoting high- quality employment and business activity and development proposals for expanding or creating such incentives.

An amendment by Rep. Larry Roberts, D-Miami, makes the task force subject to the Open Meeting Act.

Rep. Mike Ervin, D-Wewoka, committee chair, described his House Bill 1196 as a work in progress that would create an Oklahoma Institute of Technology, a project also backed by Bellmon. …

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