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economic development

A small group of protestors, who did not want to give their names, stand outside the state Capitol during the first-ever Muslim Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Chamber of Commerce officials from Oklahoma's two largest cities told lawmakers Wednesday focusing on social issues can harm economic development in the state.

Tulsa Regional Chamber Senior Vice President of Economic Development Brien Thorstenberg told House and Senate members who gathered for a joint interim study that his organization constantly receives phone calls from businesses about Oklahoma's stance on issues like North Carolina's bathroom bill and Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Smart Saver grocery store at NE 23rd Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

About two years ago the City of Oklahoma City granted tax increment finance, or TIF status to the Northeast 23rd Street, Martin Luther King, and Kelley Avenue corridors as part of a project it's calling the Northeast Renaissance.

An artist’s conception of a proposed hotel that would be attached to downtown Oklahoma City’s new convention center.
Provided / Omni Hotel and Resorts

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma City Council voted 7-2 to pursue negotiations with the developer Omni for a proposed hotel attached to downtown Oklahoma City’s new convention center that’s part of the MAPS 3 series of projects.

The site of the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill near Oklahoma City’s Bricktown has been purchased by Bob Funk Jr. with the intent of building a stadium for Funk’s Oklahoma City Energy FC soccer team.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Some Oklahoma City Council members are optimistic about a planned soccer stadium near downtown Oklahoma City.

Energy FC owner Bob Funk Jr. has purchased the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, which is planning to move operations to Altus, freeing up the 40-acre site just south of Bricktown.

Meg Salyer and John Greiner both showed optimism about the project in interviews with The Journal Record’s Brian Brus:

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is under construction at N. Perkins Road and W. Airport Road in Stillwater.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Building permit activity indicates Oklahoma's two major college towns are having a record year when it comes to commercial development.

Stillwater saw its property valuation more than double from $34 million to $84 million between 2014 and 2015, and the city is already only $6 million away from passing that mark.

Legacy Trail Apartments, one of the complexes under development in Norman.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Permits to build apartments in Oklahoma are up 150 percent over last year.

That’s a stark contrast to national construction numbers, which Federal Reserve economist and Oklahoma City branch executive Chad Wilkerson says fell by almost 10 percent.

Renovation continues on the Sunshine Cleaners building at 1012 NW First St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

In April the Oklahoma City Council approved $550,000 in tax increment financing, or TIF money, for the dilapidated Sunshine Cleaners building just west of downtown.

About the only remarkable thing about the building two blocks from the Oklahoma County Jail is its beautiful neon sign. The roof has caved in, the windows are broken, and satellite imagery even shows an abandoned vehicle inside the building.

Steve Hahn, president of AT&T Oklahoma, speaks at the Reservation Economic Summit in Tulsa Tuesday.
Rip Stell / The Journal Record

This week tribal and business leaders met just outside of Tulsa for the Reservation Economic Summit.

Two women pass by the shuttered Pita Pit on Campus Corner in Norman.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

If you graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and haven’t been back for a couple of years, you might not recognize Campus Corner. Over the past decade it’s been a revolving door of burrito restaurants (Moe’s Southwest Grill, Freebird’s, Chipotle, Chimy’s…) and many longtime staples (Cookies ‘n’ Cards, Pita Pit) no longer occupy the space along Asp Avenue north of Boyd Street.

This fall, former University of Oklahoma head football coach Barry Switzer will become a regular presence just north of campus as his “Coach’s Cabana” color commentary program moves to the parking lot of Hideaway Pizza along Buchanan Ave. As The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming reports, it’s part of a growing trend of activity in the restaurant and entertainment district:

Workers install a stone façade outside one of four Senior Wellness Centers being built as part of Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3 program.
Samuel Perry / The Journal Record

Several Oklahoma City civic leaders gathered Tuesday evening for a town hall meeting to discuss the city’s 10-year general obligation bond issue, which voters won’t decide until next year.

Workers erect scaffolding outside the First National Center building in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council discussed making changes to the tax increment finance district, or TIF, for the area affected by MAPS projects.

The council wants to increase the budget for the downtown MAPS district – adding $40 million to bring the total to $165 million.

“The says that the investment so far has already brought in $1.8 billion in private money, and adding the $40 million would bring in another $1 billion,” said The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks.

The site of the MAPS 3 park in downtown Oklahoma City.
Samuel Perry / The Journal Record

Ever since the 2009 passage of the MAPS 3 sales tax incentive that would fund a series of civic project in Oklahoma City, residents have been waiting for the park.

The so-called "core-to-shore" vision would connect the Myriad Botanical Gardens with the Oklahoma River, with an already-built pedestrian bridge bisecting Interstate 40 and connecting the two halves of the 70-acre greenbelt.

Signs dot the lawns of supporters of Norman Forward along South Lahoma Ave.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Voters will decide Tuesday on one of Norman’s largest capital improvement projects in recent memory. Norman Forward is a 15-year half-a-percent sales tax that’s expected to raise more than $200 million for more than a dozen quality-of-life initiatives. But some citizens are concerned it’s too much over too long of a period.

“We can pick the most popular projects and build slowly instead of trying to bite it off all in one chunk,” said Norman resident Jim Seifried.

Suzette Grillot talks with University of Oklahoma economist Firat Demir about how the millions of refugees streaming into Syria are affecting daily life in Istanbul, and could impact parlimentary elections weeks from now.

Then, a conversation about business ethics and responsibility in the developing world with Melike Yetken. She works with the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Melike Yetken speaking at an April 23, 2015 policy forum at American University that looked at how NGOs and government agencies are collaborating with the private sector to help solve poverty and development-related public policy problems.
American University - School of Public Affairs / Flickr

Last year President Obama announced a National Action Plan that would follow United Nations guidelines to promote responsible business practices and human rights around the world.

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