The Edmond Sun

January 29, 2013

Oklahoma's jobless rate, economy among U.S. leaders

EEDA: Large projects on track for Edmond

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Oklahoma is one of five states with employment exceeding pre-recession levels, State Treasurer Ken Miller said Tuesday at the 2013 Edmond Economic Preview at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma is doing well,” Miller said. “We will continue to do well. I believe that Oklahoma is set for a real take-off.”

 More Texans are moving to work in Oklahoma than there are Oklahomans moving to Texas for work, he said.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate of 5.1 percent mixed with Oklahomans joining the labor force is positive for the economy, said Deidre Myers, Oklahoma area director for Policy, Research and Economic Analysis at Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Oklahoma is one of three states with more than a 2 percent labor force growth, Myers said.

“Those communities that have invested a lot in human capital and their education will continue to do very, very well,” Myers said. “Those areas that haven’t had that kind of investment are going to continue to struggle.”

Most of Edmond’s new economic activity will continue along the 8.5-mile Interstate 35 corridor, said Janet Yowell, executive director of the Edmond Economic Development Authority. Yowell shared 2011 economic data and analysis.

Edmond experienced a strong year of investments in 2012, Yowell said. Commercial permits increased more than 25 percent for a total of $106 million. The volume of real estate sales increased last year and hit an all-time high average sales price, she said.

Medical activity has also helped spur the city’s economy with more than $300 million during the past two years from OU Medical Center Edmond, Integris Health Edmond and Mercy Edmond I-35, Yowell said.

Integris has created 295 jobs at 4801 Integris Parkway, immediately north of Henderson Hills Baptist Church, just east of Interstate 35 and north of 15th Street.

“They are currently building out a new heart cath lab that will open next spring,” Yowell said.

Mercy Edmond I-35 is an $88 million, not-for-profit wellness facility that will employ 200. It is set to open this summer on 25 acres of land south of 15th Street and west of the interstate.

“This building includes a doctor’s office, a large wellness center that will include an Olympic size swimming pool and a sports medicine component,” Yowell said.

Edmond will have about 1,000 employees in the medical field when Mercy Edmond I-35 opens when including the 448 employees at OU Medical Center Edmond and those at Integris Health Edmond .

The Shoppes at Fox Lake is preparing within 30 days to construct a new Sam’s Warehouse next to Walmart, just northwest of I-35 and 15th Street.

“There will be room for out-parcels there,” Yowell said.

A 40,000-square-foot Francis Tuttle Center for Municipal Excellence is being developed on the northeast corner of Interstate 35 and Covell Road. The center also will accommodate Adult and Career Development courses and workshops, a business innovation center with classrooms and offices for a business incubator, Yowell said.

The City of Edmond has partnered with the Covell 35 Development Group to build a $25 million Hilton Garden Inn and a 20,000-square-foot conference center on the north side of the northwest corner of I-35 and Covell.

The hotel will have about 160 guest rooms, a pool, fitness center and the amenities expected with the strict standards of a Hilton Hotel.

“Covell I-35 group is in the process of selecting a hotel development group to partner with for a 160-room hotel,” Yowell said. “Everything is on track with this project.”

Development of the $15 million Summit Sports Complex will be at the northeast corner of I-35 and Covell. Features would include a grill, cafe, a restaurant and/or deli, a fitness and training facility and an athletic equipment retailer. Plans call for the facility to be used for competitive and recreational athletic tournaments, athletic camps and academies and other relevant customary uses.

“It will mainly be used for volleyball, basketball and soccer,” Yowell said.

The 70,000-square-foot Edmond Public Safety Center will be built on a 1-acre site where the City of Edmond Administration Building currently stands at 100 E. First St. Construction should take 18 months to two years and the building should open in early 2015.

“This building is really going to fit in aesthetically in the downtown area,” Yowell said.

Laboratory, vehicles, evidence-based storage and other related functions will be at a $3.5 million auxiliary building to be constructed northwest of 33rd Street and Broadway.

“We have a City Council now that has been very aggressive in wanting to make things happen,” Yowell said. | 341-2121