KGOU

Business Intelligence Report

Wednesdays

A weekly feature produced in partnership with the Journal Record, Oklahoma's weekday newspaper and website specializing in business, legislative and legal news. Editor Ted Streuli and Journal Record reporters discuss business and economic development in the state.

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Algae grow on the floor of the pipe room in the Hugo water plant because water leaks constantly, as shown in this late July photo.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

About 7,000 residents in Hugo lived for months with unsafe drinking water because a private company improperly disinfected municipal water supplies and misreported data to local and state officials.

oil pump jack
Paul Lowry / Flickr

There’s an interesting side effect of the downturn in energy prices that started late last year – a strong trend in business sales.

After being laid off from the oil and gas sector, many former employees look to something completely different. In a lot of cases they have savings, plus a big severance package, and The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks says a business can be a good investment, and it’s a good time to buy.

Guards make their rounds on the eighth floor of the Oklahoma County Jail in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

For the past few months a committee has been looking at how to pay for a new Oklahoma County Jail, and made its recommendation on Tuesday.

The facility is only about 25 years old, but it’s had construction problems, mold, sewage in the cells – to the point where the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and said the inmates faced violations of their constitutional rights.

A motorist drives by a police barricade placed along Sheridan Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City in advance of a visit from President Barack Obama Wednesday.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

President Obama’s visit to Oklahoma dominated the news cycle this week, and basically shut down small portions of downtown Oklahoma City, Durant, Interstate 40 – pretty much anywhere inside a one-block radius of the president.

The White House provided only a six day heads up Obama was headed to Oklahoma, and that caused some rapid rearrangement of events in the area, according to The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt:

A view of Broadway Avenue from the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Four months ago, Oklahoma City hit a snag on the long-awaited MAPS 3 convention center in downtown. In March, the city dropped a land bid for the location they wanted just south of the Myriad Gardens.

Oklahoma City budgeted $13 million for land acquisition, and the current owners wanted $100 million, so they had to figure something else out.

The city hired the consulting firm Populous to do that, and on Tuesday the group unveiled its site evaluations and made its pitch to the city council.

Cheryl Hooper sells TNT Fireworks from her stand near Route 66 and Westminster Road in Arcadia.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Fireworks stands popped up across more rural parts of the metro weeks ago ahead of the Independence Day holiday, and Oklahoma's climate, some calendar luck, and easing of fireworks laws in other states should a $695 million dollar nationwide industry continue to boom (and yes, of course, that bad pun was intended). Sales have steadily grown since 1998, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

Guests at Remington Park horce racing track in Oklahoma City could soon have a 180-room, $22 million destination hotel to stay in.
Kiddo27 / Wikimedia Commons

Two empty lots that bookend the core of Oklahoma City could soon see massive quality-of-life projects take shape.

Developer Neal McGee, who bought the dozen-plus acres along Interstate 35 at NE 50th Street, plans to sign a deal with Holiday Inn to build a 180-room, $22 million hotel. The destination hotel would serve the area the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation refers to as the "Adventure District," with the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, the ASA Hall-of-Fame softball stadium, and the Remington Park horse track all nearby.

The unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It's been almost a month since the end of the legislative session, and Oklahoma City leaders are now starting to address one of 2015's more closely-followed bills - the fate of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.

OG&E's coal-fired power plant in Muskogee.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

On Monday an administrative law judge recommended Oklahoma’s oil, gas, and utility regulator reject several key components of Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s billion-dollar plan to raise rates in order to pay for efforts to comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules.

The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks says the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has been holding hearings on preapproval of OG&E’s $1.1 billion request. It’s split up into $700 million to get several plants into compliance with the EPA guidelines, plus another $400 million in upgrades to the plant in Mustang west of Oklahoma City. To pay for that, the utility would raise residential and consumer rates by about 19 percent over five years.

The Journal Record Building at 621 N. Robinson Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Tuesday the City Council of Oklahoma City approved a revised agreement for the redevelopment of one of downtown’s most historically significant buildings.

Barges are docked at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.
Kirby Lee Davis / The Journal Record

It seems like there’s no corner of the state that stayed dry over the past month as heavy rainfall dumped nearly two dozen inches of water in some cities and towns.

The widespread devastation is affecting interstate commerce and transportation across Oklahoma. Storms damaged several locks along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System between Oklahoma and its eastern neighbor.

The exterior of the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.
American Indian Cultural Center And Museum

State lawmakers had a lot of tourism and recreation projects on their plates this week - specifically one museum in Oklahoma City, and another in Tulsa.

The Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s been an interesting week in Oklahoma's energy sector.

On Tuesday, state treasurer Ken Miller released his office’s monthly revenue figures, which showed collections from oil and natural gas production dropped by more than 54 percent compared to April 2014. A day later, several energy companies released their first quarter earnings for this year.

Kevin Anders, standing at the lectern, who represents Midwest City on the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District board, engaged in an exchange with council members Tuesday about whether he would support the water reuse plan.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

Tuesday night the city council in Midwest City approved a non-binding resolution rejecting a water proposal that would put treated wastewater back in Lake Thunderbird.

The large reservoir about 10 miles east of Norman is shared by the two communities, as well as Del City. All three draw raw water from the lake, but two city officials disagree over how and where to treat the wastewater in the supply chain.

The 2011 Norman Music Festival
Rob Bennett / Flickr

It's springtime in Oklahoma, festival season is getting underway, and two of the Metro's biggest kicked off this week.

The eighth Norman Music Festival opened Thursday night - with one of the most controversial lead-ups in recent memory.

An American Red Cross volunteer hugs a victim after the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
Provided / American Red Cross

All this week we’ve looked back at the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building as the 20th anniversary approaches – from some of the lingering mental health issues, to a new play that tells survivors’ stories, to how the recovery from the tragedy sparked downtown Oklahoma City’s renaissance.

On April 19, four employees of the Oklahoma Historical Society were injured while working in the Journal Record building across the street from the Murrah building. They ended up in four different hospitals, with little to no way to coordinate communication. That’s one of the biggest challenges the American Red Cross faced that day, according to The Journal Record’s Kirby Lee Davis:

Taxis are parked outside Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The ride-sharing industry in Oklahoma has gone largely unregulated since Uber first arrived in Oklahoma City in 2013. The services have been challenged by limousine and taxi operators, but there’s little in the way of formal rules for how Uber, or its major competitor Lyft, can operate.

House Bill 1614 would change that. Whenever a driver turns on the app and are transporting or picking up passengers, a $1 million liability insurance policy would apply.

President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk in the Oval Office following their Nov. 29, 2012 lunch.
Pete Souza / The White House

For the past three presidential election cycles, Oklahoma has cemented its status as the “reddest of the red states.” No Democratic presidential candidate has won a single county in Oklahoma since Al Gore in 2000, and in 2004 neither incumbent President George W. Bush nor Democratic nominee John Kerry visited the state nor spent any advertising dollars here.

Oklahoma received only $1,300 in ad revenue from national GOP and Democratic organizations during the 2012 election cycle, according to campaign finance data analyzed by FairVote and The Journal Record's Brian Brus:

Jenks Mayor Lonnie Sims speaks during a press conference on the upcoming vote to renew the Vision 2025 sales tax.
Rip Stell / The Journal Record

A Tulsa tax package will be up for renewal by voters this fall, but with a new twist.

Vision2025, a Tulsa County tax plan similar to Oklahoma City’s MAPS project, is a 0.6 percent sales tax passed in 2003. Since then, it has raised over $600 million for various community projects.

But this year, cities affected by the tax plan have the chance to opt out, says Journal Record managing editor Adam Brooks.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

For the past several weeks the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has heard from attorneys for Oklahoma Gas & Electric regarding the utility’s request for approval to spend $1.1 billion.

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