By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A year-old tax incentive is starting to chip into Oklahoma's unemployment rate. The 21st Century Quality Jobs Program encourages businesses to hire highly skilled workers and pay them a high salary.
As Tulsa continues to fight through a down economy, the Chamber of Commerce says it's found its first business to take advantage of a tax incentive passed a year ago.
"Basically the kind of jobs that we can recruit with this incentive in our state are the kind of jobs that people who are my peers across the country would, basically, give their right arm to recruit these kind of jobs," said Jim Fram, Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, said. "So it's a real win for Tulsa."
The 21st Century Quality Jobs Program gives businesses a cash rebate of up to 10% for new jobs that average more than $94,000 a year. The Chamber recruited a Kansas company to move to Tulsa thanks to the tax incentive and it plans to create 18 jobs.
Jim Fram says it's important for communities to add high paying jobs.
"That translates to more sales tax revenue for cities; that translates to more property tax revenue, it translates to better schools, it translates to better quality of life all around," Fram said.
The Chamber says the incentive is just one more tool in their arsenal to bring more jobs to Tulsa, adding they're competing with other states that have their own incentives for those same jobs.
"We compete on nearly every project with Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado," Fram said.
Fram says he has 60 projects in the works that could qualify for the incentive. The businesses are in several industries including healthcare, energy, aerospace and aviation, as well as transportation and logistics, such as the work being done at the Port of Catoosa.
It's proof, Fram says, the incentive is working and could help boost Tulsa's economy.
The incentive applies both to companies that are interested in moving to Oklahoma and companies that are already here. Jim Fram says the goal is to encourage businesses to hire technically-savvy, highly educated employees.