- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Officials at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, and even in municipal offices can speak about why companies would want to locate here.

Not every company can find exactly what it needs in the city, however, so some choose another place, such as St. Louis or Nashville, Tenn.

In 2013, more than 30 different projects could have resulted in new jobs and capital investment in the city; however, the companies chose other areas.

During a presentation at the Commercial Real Estate 2014 Forecast, Kurt Foreman, the chamber’s executive vice president of economic development, discussed some of the projects, The Journal Record reported (http://bit.ly/1cQgDFI).

Most of the companies just couldn’t find the property they needed.

In what was called Project Golden Fox, an international company was looking for a North American manufacturing location. The company was looking for 160 acres.

“We only had one site that fit their criteria,” Foreman said. “It was a school land site, and those deals can be tricky.”

The company would have brought 750 employees, with an investment of $800 million.

Another company was looking for a 60-acre site with access to rail and 2 million gallons of water per day, as well as 60,000 MMBTUs per day of natural gas, which would have made it the largest user of natural gas in the city.

Foreman said the water requirement and the amount of gas use took the city out of the running. The company ended up locating near the Gulf of Mexico.

Two other companies couldn’t find buildings to fit their needs, with one too hesitant about the time frame to build its own space.

Chamber CEO and President Roy Williams said these failures in 2013 are the negative side effects of the city’s success.

“When you have low unemployment and a strong economic development year, you tend to use up your product,” Williams said. “We now have a very limited supply of (existing space). There are very few buildings on the market.”

Williams said companies entering the market are looking for existing buildings or properties that are ready for development, meaning the property has utility lines in place.

The city has very few - if any - large empty industrial buildings or property.

“We don’t have any speculative buildings on the market,” he said. “(Companies) are only building to suit.”

To get those speculative properties, Williams said the city will need a large national developer to come in and build an industrial office park.

Getting those developers in the market is a process, however, not a phone call.

“It’s trickling in,” Williams said. “We’re beginning to see apartment complexes and hotels being bought by national companies. The more that it happens, the more it’s being seen and picked up.”

Foreman said another challenge is that some developers are using what could be good industrial sites for multifamily housing, and vice versa.

Until national development companies make their way into the metro area, the chamber is working on 28 other economic development projects. If all of them pan out, more than 13,000 jobs would be added to the area, with a combined payroll of more than $399 million

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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