economic development

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.

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:

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