Creating an economic development fund for Tulsa

Tuesday, February 3rd 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Citgo is busy pondering an incentives package from the State of Texas, according to a company memo that was obtained by the News on 6 Monday. So far, no memo has surfaced that mentions any Tulsa incentives.

An economic development fund gives Texas a big advantage, but as News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg tells us, local leaders want to change that.

Nobody's saying exactly what Texas is offering Citgo to lure it away from Tulsa. But the Lone Star state has close to $300-million in an enterprise fund at its disposal.

Something that Mayor Bill LaFortune says that city leaders would like to emulate here. "I know that our new chairman of the board at the metro chamber has indicated interest in raising such a fund. And it would be beneficial not only in the Citgo situation, but a number of job attraction issues hit us every week."

Tulsa voters lofted big bucks at American Airlines and Boeing with the Vision election, with considerable success. But elections can take months to organize, with no guarantee of passing.

And officials sometimes have to act on the fly. LaFortune: "So if you had an economic development fund in place, you could tap into it on short notice, it would really be beneficial to job attraction for Tulsa."

Tulsa leaders say they've made it clear to Citgo that the door is open to talk incentives. In the meantime, they hope to make steps to open the door a little wider and invite more companies inside.

The chamber says it’s too early to say how they'll create an economic development fund. City leaders say it could be a combination of private contributions and public dollars.