Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Economic development officials try to lure next big catch to Oklahoma City

January 27, 2011

Following the successful recruitment of Whole Foods and 550 Boeing jobs, executives with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber say they’re in the hunt for a North American headquarters for a “large international company” and also are in talks with two grocery stores looking to open locations downtown.

The development prospects were revealed this week as part of a quarterly report delivered to the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust, which reviews potential retail and jobs incentives issued by the city.

Robin Roberts-Kreiger, executive vice president of Economic Development, said the chamber has visited with some of the companies over the past couple of weeks.

“We showed Oklahoma City to a large company last week,” said Roberts-Kreiger, who is not permitted to discuss names of prospects. “It’s a very large project, and we’re on their short list. This week we have a large international company in town looking at North American headquarters.”

Alison Oshel, who oversees retail recruitment for the chamber, reported prospects are up as well in the effort to lure shops, stores and restaurants not currently found in Oklahoma City.

“We have 30 really solid leads to locate retailers in Oklahoma City,” Oshel said. “Two are downtown grocery stores, which we feel as optimistic as we’ve felt yet and we think we may see a downtown grocery store in the next few years.”

The activity, Oshel said, isn’t just a “blip on the radar screen.”

“We feel as if the worst of the recession may be over,” Oshel said.

Roberts-Kreiger echoed Oshel’s sentiments.

“We’re seeing increased activity,” Roberts-Kreiger said. “Based on trends, we believe it’s based on the economy and some companies that were sitting on cash are starting to move because of that.”

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