303-Unit Apartment Complex Planned in University North Park District

July 10, 2015

The Norman Transcript

Norman residents will have another option when looking for a new place to call home.

A building permit was recently issues for the construction of a large apartment complex in northwest Norman’s University North Park district.

According to the permit, the multi-building complex will boast 303 individual units, as well as a garage and a club house. The project was valued for $24,382,522.

Norman Economic Development Coalition CEO and President Don Wood said the project complements the work NEDC is doing with the planned office complex and other job-creating entities locating there.

“It’ll be a place for people to live who work in the area, and vice versa,” Wood said.

Additionally, another large apartment complex at Tecumseh Road and 36th Avenue Northwest is nearing completion.

More information about the projects will be published in later editions of The Transcript.

Meanwhile, city officials and the contractor for Legacy Park on Friday created a punch list of items remaining to be completed on the centerpiece park.

Norman parks and recreation director Jud Foster said the rains have held up completion of the project. A committee is working out details for a public grand opening later this summer. Additionally, Foster said the park will include three adjoining restaurant sites where diners can look out on the park.

Foster said the first restaurant announced will be a Redrock Canyon Grill operated by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group. It will be located on the park’s south side.

Cleveland County Ranks High in its Investments in its Economy

July 23, 2015

For The Transcript

Cleveland County ranked among the top places in Oklahoma in local investment and economic expansion in due to a high showing in each of the factors considered by the company, including business establishment growth, GDP growth, new building permits, and municipal bond investment.

The New York-based financial technology company SmartAsset completed a study on counties receiving the greatest amount of investment in their local economies to uncover the places poised to grow. It found Cleveland County to have a business growth of 2.4 percent, a GDP of $978 million, a new building permit growth per 1,000 homes of 10.5 percent, $1,805 municipal bonds per capita and an incoming investment index of 39.35.

There are several ways individuals, governments and businesses can invest money in a county or region. The study aims to capture the places across the country that are receiving the most incoming investments in business, real estate, government and the local economy as a whole.

To do this, researchers looked at four factors: business establishment growth, GDP growth, new building permits and municipal bond investment.

The study looked at the change in the number of business established in each location over a 2-year period. This shows whether or not people are starting new business ventures in the county.

The second factor used to determine the ranking was the GDP growth. Factors used included real growth (inflation adjusted) in the local economy.

Investment and development in the local residential real estate market was also considered. To measure this real estate growth, researchers calculated the number of new building permits per 1,000 homes.

The final factor considered was investment in municipal bonds. Researchers found the average municipal bonds raised by a county over the last five years, which was divided by the population. This gave a per capita look at investment in local government or agencies.

Every county in the study was scored on these four factors, weighting each factor equally.

Researchers then combined those scores to create a final ranking of cities. With that ranking, we created an index (a sort of grading on a curve) where the county with the most incoming investments was assigned a value of 100 and the county with the least investment activity received a zero.

Sources, U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns Survey, U. S. Bureau Economic Analysis, U. S. Census Bureau Building Permits Survey and Bloomberg.

Easterly Winds: Norman Turbine Company Finds New Market in Japan

July 8, 2015

Sarah Terry-Cobo

The Journal Record

NORMAN – The world’s largest manufacturer of small wind turbines now has a new foreign market: Japan.

Government tax incentives and the Asian nation’s push toward renewable energy created an expansion opportunity for Norman-based Bergey Windpower Co., co-founder and President Mike Bergey said.

However, it’s risky to depend on heavily subsidized markets, said Jeremy Oller, energy economics professor at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Japan recently certified Bergey’s 10-kilowatt wind turbine and 100-foot towers. In May, the company installed two turbines in Nagata, connecting the generators to the grid in early June. The initial entry is small, but Bergey said he expects to fill about 200 orders for the 10-kW turbine within the next 12 months and as many as 500 orders in the next 24 months. He said he expects to hire more workers by the end of the year to fulfill the demand.

Bergey’s company manufactures wind turbines designed for residential homes, small businesses and remote cellphone towers in developing countries. The family-owned business has continuously manufactured 1-kW, 5-kW and 10-kW turbines since 1978, but there isn’t much demand in Oklahoma.

A typical 10-kW turbine costs about $74,000, so the initial upfront capital costs deter many potential customers, Bergey said. Demand is driven by state and federal tax incentives. Japanese customers will likely demand small wind turbines because the government provides a tax incentive of 55 yen per kilowatt-hour, about 44 cents, for turbines up to 20 kW.

That per-kilowatt-hour incentive is twice as much as what it provides for electricity created from solar panels.

“Because of the higher subsidy, the higher wind resources and consumer interest in wind, Japan is emerging as the largest single market for small wind turbines in the world,” Bergey said.

Bergey said he initially applied for certification in May 2012, but Japan didn’t have procedures in place to ensure safety and durability of small wind turbines. The company had to provide nine months of test data before it received certification.

State and federal incentives drive growth and decline in U.S. markets too, he said. In the U.S., Bergey’s largest market for small wind turbines is New York. A federal tax incentive is available for 30 percent of the sticker price and the state provides a $25,000 rebate. In addition, a company called United Wind provides a lease agreement, in which an individual pays a portion of the remaining capital costs for 20 years, with an option to buy the equipment afterward.

The combination of those incentives brings the purchase price down to about $24,000. When paid over the course of 20 years, the payback period for a consumer is about six years, Bergey said.

“That is what makes the numbers work, until we can bring equipment prices down,” he said.

Oller said the subsidies spur investment in wind turbines, which can reduce reliance on other air-polluting electrical power sources. Governments that recognize the benefit of cleaner air for the population are likely to subsidize renewable power, he said. Japan doesn’t have much natural gas or coal. It’s not surprising the country is encouraging renewable investment, Oller said.

Bergey faces two potential risks in the Japanese market. One is the currency and potential volatility in foreign exchange markets, Oller said. The other risk is investing in a country that provides subsidies to consumers who buy his products.

“Those government policies are enacted by politicians, and if they change their mind, you’re subject to their whims,” Oller said.

Architects Present Designs to Spruce Up Norman High

July 20, 2015

Megan Sando

The Norman Transcript

Architects presented interactive designs to board members at a Norman Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday that show what Norman High School’s entrance will look like after it is spruced up, as part of 2014 bond projects. Demolition began several weeks ago at Norman High on Main Street.

“If you have the time, drive down Main Street and look north,” said Nick Migliorino, assistant of administrative services and chief technology officer. “Turn north on Berry and see the baseball field, and if you have a chance, go inside to see the gym floor finally being finished.”

Migliorino said the NHS gymnasium is being continued from the 2009 bond and completed. On Main Street, the old fine arts building is nearly completely demolished.

During demolition, the landscape was impacted, said Katie Byers of MA+ Architecture in Oklahoma City.

That included removing and relocating a memorial tree on the school’s property.

With donated lumber from the University of Oklahoma, it will have a special place on site, possibly with outdoor seating.

Migliorino said there is approximately 50,000 square feet of new construction and equally as much for renovated areas.

Board members approved the initial design documents — which included interactive display with posters showing carpet, tile and color schemes for elementary schools, photos and a video tour of NHS.

“Where do we start?” said President Linda Sexton after a presentation of NHS’s College and Career Center and Freshman Academy.

The loaded display from architects showed what the revamp of NHS will look like on Main Street: a main entry and CCC entry with security vestibules, a circle drive, signage and big canopy entrance, and administrative offices that have lots of windows to look out into the visitor parking lot.

Inside, the Learning Commons is a 21st century library, open to the public after school hours. It has a coffee shop near the Main Street entrance, small break-out study rooms with transparent glass for privacy, two dedicated classrooms and a stage for presentations.

A large window lets those who are so inclined to read and check out the view on Main. Also included is an IT service station and genius bar.

“Anyone want to go back to high school?” Byers said. “This might help.”

The Freshman Academy has its own secure entrance, glassed-in and wall-to-ceiling marker boards. Freshmen may leave from an entrance at the academy, personalized with street access, without having to go through common areas.

Security is a major concern while the construction is under way.

Member Dick O’Hara asked designers if all workers are given background checks, during a display of elementary designs.

Superintendent Joe Siano said safety is the district’s first priority, and all workers are given background checks.

Security points also will control who has access to what within the new entries.

For Norman High, the estimated bid budget is just under $16 million, Byers said. The projected budget is $16,033,658.

Megan Sando

[email protected]

Follow me @megansandotnt

 

Finding a Piece of Green Peace on Greenways in Norman

July 12, 2015

Joy Hampton

The Norman Transcript

Bill Rhodes, of Harrah, told me he likes to walk trails wherever he goes. I ran into him at Sutton Wilderness this week, when I was there, taking photos.

Rhodes is not alone; nearly 143 million Americans, or 49.2 percent of the U.S. population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2013, according to a study done by the Outdoor Foundation.

Norman Forward and a recent proposal for three new trails to connect Norman’s primary trail system had me excited and thinking about what more trails could mean for our community in the future. That drove me out to get photos at Sutton and along Legacy Trail in core Norman.

While both trails are very pretty, what was most remarkable was how many people I encountered on those trails, the numbers of activities they were engaged in and the diversity of age, sex and race.

From leisure walkers, fitness walkers and runners to dog walkers and cyclists, people are spending time on Norman’s trails. It’s no surprise that trails and greenways are the top amenities many cities are focused on now as people realize their importance and the abundance of ways the great outdoors can bring us pleasure.

According to Americantrails.org, “Greenways are corridors of protected open space managed for conservation and recreation purposes. Greenways often follow natural land or water features and link nature reserves, parks, cultural features and historic sites with each other and with populated areas.”

There’s an economic benefit to investing in urban green spaces. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bird watchers spend more than $5.2 billion annually.

A 2011 study from the University of Cincinnati suggests that locating near nature trails is financially beneficial for homeowners and communities.

Using a research model they developed, Olivier Parent and Rainer vom Hofe found that, from a real estate perspective, trails can have significant, positive spillover effects on property values when these properties are located within reasonable distances to the trails.

Trails, particularly in urban areas, are growing in popularity as preserving green space combines with the desire for greater health and fitness through a variety of uses that trails offer. And relatively speaking, trails are inexpensive to maintain, compared to many other city amenities.

Greenways often serve as natural floodplains, and many trails and green spaces double as outdoor classrooms.

It’s no wonder people want more trails.

In Norman’s Parks Master Plan, trail development “for bicyclists, walkers and joggers” is one of six items that are rated as a “very high” priority by Norman residents, and while trails are one of six “very high” priority items listed on the master parks plan, many of the other five include a trail component.

Consider these other “very high” priority items in the Parks Master Plan:

  • Renovate key existing parks — includes a trail component
  • Develop initial phase of Ruby Grant Park — includes trails (Plans for Ruby Grant revealed a strong desire by residents for much of the park to be left as natural as possible, and while some lighting was desired on trails for safety, athletic practice fields were to be built without large stadium lighting that would destroy the natural ambiance of the park.)
  • Acquire floodplain land for Canadian River Park and Little River Corridor Preserve — includes a nature trail

Trails are not one-size-fits all. While Sutton Wilderness is more rugged and natural, Legacy Trail has been a connecting point for many people on mobility vehicles, as well as for people who are walking or riding bikes to get from point-to-point in the city.

The wide lane and pleasant landscaping make Legacy Trail a pleasurable and protected way to travel within the city without a motor vehicle.

Connecting existing trails exponentially expands accessibility for everyone. Recently, a subcommittee of the Greenbelt Commission submitted a vision to the city council for connecting the major trails in Norman.

The connecting trails proposed would tentatively be called the Little River Trail, the Scissortail Trail and the South Legacy Trail. Each would have kiosks and educational components like Legacy Trail, and they would make a loop around Norman possible for pedestrians, cyclists, hikers and runners.

With Norman Forward in the works, we can include this important vision to connect our trails as one of the components to fulfill the high priority residents have put on having more trails in the city.

“If you dream it, you can build it.”

Everything starts as an idea.

Norman Forward began as a vision that seemed impossibly ambitious. The widespread support of the overall package has been incredible. It appears to be an idea whose time has come.

Dream it, believe it, make it real. What do you believe in?

Joy Hampton

366-3544

[email protected]

Follow me @joyinvestigates

Zaxby’s Chain Opens Norman Location

July 19, 2015

Sarah Kirby

The Norman Transcript

Zaxby’s, a chicken restaurant chain popular in the Southeast, will hatch its Norman location today.

The fast-casual restaurant, 1839 W. Main St., will open at 10:30 a.m. today with a ribbon cutting ceremony. According to a Facebook status, the first 100 guests in line will receive a Zaxby’s Fanatic Pack with 52 free Dealz, granting a free item at Zaxby’s each week for a year.

Expect to see a large crowds of customers and large smiles from employees, District Manager Terry Moon said.

“We’re going to give you hot, fresh food — through our drive-thru, as well as inside,” Moon said. “We’re asking that you be a little patient, but we’re going to push out food as fast we can with great guest service. We believe in putting the guest first and we do that now with our 600-plus stores, and we definitely want to continue that reputation of the Zaxby’s brand while we’re here.”

Zaxby’s will offer hand-breaded “chicken fingerz” and traditional or boneless wings, smothered in a choice of nine signature sauces that range from “wimpy,” “tongue torch,” “nuclear” and “insane.” Its “zappetizers” include onion rings, spicy fried mushrooms and fried white cheddar bites.

Several Norman restaurants have already sampled what the restaurant has to offer. Family and friends of employees were invited to sample menu items from Friday to Saturday, followed by a Zaxby’s Important People (ZIP) event Sunday that saw community leaders and business owners crowding inside the chicken restaurant.

Moon, who in June relocated from Atlanta to oversee the opening of the Oklahoma stores, said he is excited to see the response from people who have been waiting for the restaurant to open.

“It’s been awesome to see people stop by,” Moon said. “We’ve had a lot of people that have watched the building come up during construction and have come by — they thought we were open. Today alone, we’ve have to turn away about 50-plus people.”

About 60 employees have been hired at the Norman location, Moon said. Each new employee underwent an education program to learn how to prepare each menu item and every process involved with the restaurant.

The classes were led by eight trainers, who were all flown in from Atlanta. The team will stay in Norman and continue training new employees until Aug. 9.

“They won’t have to open up by themselves and be left alone,” Moon said. “They’ll have people from our Atlanta stores with them.”

The opening marks the start of an expansion into the Oklahoma City area, which includes 28 markets. The Norman location, which was licensed by Sterling Coleman of Lady Di I LLC, was the first city chosen for the Oklahoma City market — a deal that includes 28 locations in total.

The building that housed a Long John Silver’s was demolished in December to allow construction of the new property to begin in January. Measuring 30,000 square feet, the exterior of the drive-thru restaurant was built to resemble a barn with a silo — a new concept for the chain.

The company operates more than 580 locations in 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The Norman location will operate 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Sarah Kirby

[email protected]

Follow me @skirbyreports

Norman Economic Development Coalition Hires New CEO

Norman OK (July 9, 2015) – The Board of Directors of the Norman Economic Development Coalition   (“NEDC”) has named Jason P. Smith as President and Chief Executive Officer, replacing Don Wood who will retire at the end of this month.  In this role, Smith will serve as the top officer of the organization, responsible for all administrative and management functions while executing the mission of the NEDC. 

Smith comes to Norman from Abilene, TX where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.  

The NEDC Board of Directors retained Waverly Partners, a national executive search firm, to assist in the recruiting effort.  Waverly Partners contacted over 250 executives at economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, site selection companies and other public and private sector leaders over the course of a number of weeks. The Board considered 7 prospective candidates and ultimately narrowed the pool to two finalists prior to selecting Smith for the role.   

Smith brings over 18 years of economic development experience at the community and regional level.  Prior to his current position, Smith served as Vice President of Economic Development for the Lincoln (NE) Partnership for Economic Development, a partnership of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and City of Lincoln, a role he held for 9 years.   Smith served as the lead for economic development activity in Lincoln on behalf of the Partnership. Smith has also served as Executive Director for the McAlester (OK) Economic Development Service.    He has an undergraduate degree in Communications from Cameron University and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.  He also holds the professional certification of Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council. 

A native of Oklahoma, Smith spent his elementary and middle school years in Cleveland County in Norman, Moore and Noble. His father was a school principal in the Norman public school system for nearly two decades.  His parents also owned a small business in downtown Norman. 

Smith is expected to begin his role with the NEDC in early August.

“I am very excited and honored to join the economic development team in Norman,” Smith said, “An opportunity to return home to Oklahoma and specifically to Norman where I have a strong affinity was a huge draw as well.  Norman is very well positioned to take advantage of strong economic development opportunities and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Dan Quinn, NEDC’s newly appointed Board Chair is delighted that Smith has accepted the role.  “We are very excited that Jason will be leading the NEDC and our economic development activities.  Jason brings an outstanding record of success in economic development and we look forward to his leadership in the years to come.”  

Founded in 1996, the Norman Economic Development Coalition is a 501(c) 6 organization and public/private partnership between the University of Oklahoma, the City of Norman, Moore Norman Technology Center and the Sooner Centurions, a committee of the Norman Chamber of Commerce.  

 

Helping Build Businesses: Norman’s eTec Wins Incubator of the Year Award

June 17, 2015

The Journal Record

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Startup companies face many challenges trying to get off the ground and running. The support system that comes with involvement in a business incubator can alleviate a lot of those pains and help put a business on the path to success, a federal official said.

Business incubators offer everything from office space and technical assistance to management guidance and consulting tailored to a young company.

“A small startup may be very good at their business – what they sell or what they do – but not as good at the fundamentals of operating a business – leasing space, payroll, accounting, things like that,” said Larry Weatherford, spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Oklahoma district office. “The incubator provides the kind of support that allows them to focus on their core business.”

Business incubators typically are operated by different groups, including technology centers or resource partners such as small business development centers. Not all of the more than 20 business incubators in Oklahoma are connected to the SBA, but Weatherford said he highly recommends small businesses take advantage of their opportunities.

“Probably the greatest benefit from my perspective is the ability to be with other startup businesses in that you don’t feel so alone,” he said. “Other people are going through the same challenges. If you go rent space in an established office building, you can feel isolated. At an incubator, you have the support system around you.”

Norman Economic Development Coalition’s eTec, or emerging technology entrepreneurial center, this year’s Journal Record Incubator of the Year, has graduated a dozen companies from its business accelerator program since it opened in 2001. In 2009, the eTec program added a second center to provide additional space for technology entrepreneurs in the Norman area.

By being associated with NEDC, companies have options of growing into their own facilities or one of the business parks operated by the economic development group. The best example of this is SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc., or SWeNT.

“A lot of startups are technical people that have an invention or idea and don’t’ have the full package in terms of resources,” SWeNT CEO Dave Arthur said. “Having a place to go that has office space and some infrastructure, that was the type of thing SWeNT benefited from at eTec.”

Even after SWeNT had moved into its own larger facility, the Norman company turned to NEDC and the incubator program after continued growth made it necessary for an even larger facility. The NEDC and eTec built a $3.3 million, 18,000-square-foot facility to lease to SWeNT, followed by another $900,000 lease for equipment and manufacturing reactors and a capital loan of $750,000.

On Wednesday, eTec received the award at an annual small business awards luncheon hosted by The Journal Record in downtown Oklahoma City. Other finalists for the award included Oklahoma State University Student Startup Central, The Forge, LaunchPad FT and The Strategy Center.

Those honored at the luncheon, which was sponsored by Intrust Bank, also included the U.S. Small Business Administration Oklahoma District Award winners:

  • Oklahoma Small Business Persons of the Year: Brett Bain and Brian Edwards, co-founders of Lawton-based FairWind LLC • Exporter of the Year: Sawyer Manufacturing Company, Tulsa • Family-owned Business of the Year: Parkhill’s Warehouse Liquors & Wine, Tulsa • Veteran Small Business Champion: Larry Findeiss, bid assistance coordinator, Tulsa Technology Center • Women in Business Champion: Lori Dreiling, co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Tulsa

Moore Norman Technology Center Offers Companies Soldering Facilities and Training Options

June 30, 2015

The Norman Transcript

 

Companies searching for a facility that offers soldering training should consider Moore Norman Technology Center’s Franklin Road Campus in Norman. There is a dedicated classroom with six complete soldering training booths and all work is performed in a lead-free environment.

Each soldering station is equipped with a Pace PRC 2000 and various hand soldering irons where students learn the IPC A-610 Class 3 High Reliability Soldering curriculum. The MNTC Soldering courses may be taken individually, or together. Each course takes 40-hours to complete and there is an introduction and refresher component to Electrostatic Discharge.

MNTC Adjunct Instructor Mike Wilp has taught the course since 2007 and said Oklahoma companies benefit from soldering training at Moore Norman for a number of reasons.

First, Wilp said students get the hands-on practical experience working directly with the materials used in industry. Second, they learn in a lead-free soldering environment and finally, they learn high reliability through hole and surface mount soldering, which is what industry demands.

In the Surface Mount soldering class, students gain valuable training in the latest techniques and learn the principles and practice of making high-reliability solder connections using lead free solder and no clean flux.

In the Through Hole soldering portion of the course, students learn valuable training in the latest assembly and repair techniques in IPC Soldering and will also learn the principles and practice of making high-reliability solder connections.

“Students are at an advantage learning soldering at Moore Norman because so many training programs have moved to more of a simulation-type course. Here, students actually work on the same type of pieces and projects they do out in industry. It’s hands-on learning on real projects,” Wilp said.

To learn more about MNTC’s soldering class options visit mntc.edu. For current pricing information call 405-809-3585.

Asigra New Hybrid Partner of the Year

June 30, 2015

Asigra News

Congratulations to Agio who was this year’s winner of the New Hybrid Partner of the Year award at the 2015 Asigra Global Partner Summit. This award is presented to a new Asigra Partner within the past year who has demonstrated strong revenue growth, signed new customers and has achieved high customer satisfaction.