Business, Industry & Health
March 30, 2012
Norman 2012 VISION
Advancing and empowering Oklahoma for nearly two decades By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
Norman and surrounding towns like Noble and Purcell are no strangers to the oil and natural gas industry. Since the early days, the industry has been part of the bedrock of the Cleveland County landscape. In 2010, producers in Cleveland County pumped out 343,041 barrels of oil and 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The county ranks 38th in the state in oil production and 54th in natural gas production. That production is helping Oklahoma meet America’s energy needs. Since 1993, the hard-working and innovative men and women of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry have funded one of the nation’s finest and most respected community outreach programs. The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board was created nearly two decades ago with a mission to use the strength of Oklahoma’s greatest industry to improve the lives of all Oklahomans through education and environmental restoration. Through the OERB, Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry has proven itself to be a good steward of the environment. Now 19 years strong, we celebrate having cleaned up nearly 12,000 abandoned well sites at no cost to landowners. The oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners who fund the OERB have now contributed more than $70 million towards restoration efforts. In Cleveland County alone, the OERB has restored 95 sites and spent nearly a half million dollars on environmental restoration efforts here. With a long-standing tradition of education excellence in Oklahoma, the OERB provides one-of-a-kind science and energy tools for Oklahoma teachers and students. Curricula, well site safety, college scholarships and technical training are just a few of the programs that help the OERB educate young Oklahomans about the oil and natural gas industry, the science behind it and its importance to our state and nation. The OERB provides in-depth science curricula free-of-charge to teachers. The OERB’s curricula reach students from kindergarten through high school and are full of fun, hands-on lessons that introduce students to basic concepts about well site safety, rock formations and the types of
products made from petroleum. These curricula have been instrumental in educating more than one and a half million students across the state. At the OERB, we know teachers are key in our children’s development. That is why we support them with development and supplies. Last year the OERB provided educators with $450,000 in classroom supplies to use while teaching the OERB curricula in the classroom. Dottie Morris teaches at All Saints Catholic School and says the OERB’s assistance comes at a critical time for educators. “Schools are sometimes criticized for not developing the science and math skills students need for today’s technology,” said Morris. “But the OERB has stepped up and developed and funded the necessary curriculum, so thanks very much to the OERB.” Teresa Lansford agrees. She teaches at Kennedy Elementary and truly appreciates the OERB’s continued support. “The OERB cares about teachers and students. I have seen how meaningful the hands on curriculum is to students,” said Lansford. These teachers are just a few of the 471 teachers from schools served by the Norman Transcript who have been trained to teach and use the OERB curricula in their classroom. The OERB also funds thousands of student field trips to museums around the state with oil and natural gas exhibits – including the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman. Last year, the OERB committed $350,000 to that effort. Many teachers say it is the only field trip their students will ever take due to a lack of money. Many ask why the OERB dedicates so much time and nearly one-quarter of its budget to student education. Well, we hope some of the one and a half million minds we have educated will, one day, find themselves on a career path toward the oil and natural gas industry. Right now, our industry is aging. Not in technology or resources, but in people. The average age of a worker in the oil and natural gas industry is in the mid-50s. That is why the OERB created a college scholarship program to encourage young people to study petroleum related majors at Oklahoma State University, the University of
Above: OERB Master Teachers conduct a distillation experiment from the CORE Energy Science curriculum using cherry cola during an OERB teacher workshop. Below: Students at Ralph Downs Elementary in Oklahoma City show off their copies of the OERB’s latest children’s book Boomer Burrow. Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa. The OERB is proud to support 62 outstanding scholars at OU. We have awarded nearly $2 million in college scholarships since 2006. The OERB also developed a technical certification program at two of the state’s top Career Tech schools where dedicated students can achieve a certification that gets them working in this powerful industry. After all, it is an industry that powers the economy of our state. It provides 300,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, pays nearly one billion dollars annually in gross production taxes and provides $51 billion in goods and services - one-third of the state’s gross product. Before the OERB began its work in 1993, minimal public awareness of the vital contributions of the oil and natural gas industry existed. Today, attitudes are changing as communities continue to understand the importance of this cornerstone industry. As our student education programs grow and we near that 12,000th restoration, our mission is stronger than ever. We are grateful to the producers and royalty owners
who are committed to the program for giving us such an amazing story to tell about the thriving industry that continues advancing our state and empowering our nation. This is a paid advertorial by OERB.
4 Norman 2012 VISION
Fortunately, Norman still missing the doughnut hole
or economic developers, the “doughnut theory” has nothing to do with baking. Unless, of course, a doughnut store is the prize. Developers have long recognized that stores and offices tend to cluster in outlying areas and the middle often gets overlooked. When public and private investment in a community’s outer circle takes precedence, the city’s core suffers. Fortunately, for Norman, the city remains vibrant throughout. We Andy Rieger have no doughnut Executive hole. Don’t believe it. Editor Take a day’s drive through historic downtowns in other communities. Blocks of storefronts are mostly abandoned in areas where commerce flourished just 20 years earlier. In the mid-1990s, a consultant hired to promote downtown Norman said the lack of traffic was a hindrance to retail stores and restaurants downtown. To prove his point, he stretched out in the middle of Main Street waiting on cars. Today, the problem downtown is not lack of traffic. It’s often too much traffic at peak times. City officials and merchant groups are wrestling with where to park everyone. A new public lot on Gray Street fills up each morning. County officials are
looking at building some kind of parking structure south or north of the courthouse. Restaurants, bars and coffee houses transform downtown after shops close. Two more eateries will open soon. The Financial Center reopened with a large state agency as its major tenant. Niche retailers pop up weekly. They want to try and make it in the city’s core area where others have pursued dreams for more than a century. The downtown revival comes less than a decade after a public-private reinvestment replaced water lines and sidewalks. New streetscapes made the area more pedestrian friendly. The 100 to 300 blocks of East Main were transformed. Soon, that effort could be duplicated in the 100 to 300 blocks of West Main street. A grant application is pending before the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It was anticipated last year but — like hundreds of projects — was put on hold pending approval of the federal transportation funding bill. Now that the federal funds have been released, we look for an announcement and a push westward on Main Street. It’ll be inconvenient for property owners, tenants and motorists for a few months. But history shows the investment will pay dividends down the road.
INDEX HEALTH Oklahoma’s health ranking is 48th in the nation. Smoking and obesity not only take a toll on individual health, they tax the economy as well. Oklahoma employers lose close to $2 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism from these two issues alone. The upside is that the state and communities are fighting back. PAGE 5
BUSINESS Since October 2006, 52 businesses have set up shop in University North Park. While a handful have departed, more are on the way. Although a slowed economy has affected development, the number of businesses that have established themselves in University North Park and the increase to the city’s tax base have been beneficial. PAGE 10
INDUSTRY Norman is known for academics and research, but its supply of, and demand for, skilled laborers also is strong. Companies of all sizes hire, train and depend on Normanarea plumbers, welders, electricians, computer experts and various technicians. PAGE 26
ADVERTISER INDEX First American Bank and Trust . . . . . . . . . . . .24-25
Norman Regional Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12-13
Animal Emergency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Norman Surgical Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Bob Moore Nissan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22-23
Oklahoma Energy Resource Board . . . . . . . . .2-3
Dr. Robert Wells, DDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Primrose Funeral Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18-19
Fitness One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6-7
Sitel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Goodwill Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Spaulding Chiropractic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16-17
Honor roll of advertisers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29-31
Sysco Food Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20-21
Norman Chamber of Commerce . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
ON THE COVER Norman Regional Heathplex photo provided by Norman Regional Hospital.
FitnessOne, Sysco and Primrose Funeral Home photos by Kyle Phillipls / The Norman Transcript.
Next up: Faith, Community & Education
Norman 2012 VISION
State, communities tackle Oklahoma’s health ranking By Joy Hampton Transcript Staff Writer
Norman Regional Hospital is at the forefront of health care in Cleveland County.
Oklahoma may be in the top 10 in sports, but it is ranked in the bottom 10 in health — 48th in 2011 — according to America’s Health Rankings produced by the United Health Foundation. Now, Dr. Terry Cline, the state’s Commissioner of Health and the Oklahoma Secretary of Heath and Human Services said the Sooner state is fighting back with a blueprint for improvement. The Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan was requested by the Oklahoma Legislature and sets a path of wellness for the state. Some priority areas of focus include tobacco use prevention, children’s health, and obesity reduction. • See HEALTH, Page 8
BY THE NUMBERS: HEALTH TRENDS The 2011 State of the State Health report found the following negative findings in Cleveland County: • Obesity in adults increased 21 percent • Physical inactivity in adults increased 19 percent • Prevalence of diabetes among adults increased 72 percent • 10 percent fewer children completed primary immunizations
Norman 2012 VISION
Fitness One offers great hours and top-notch equipment If you’re tired of missing out on exciting opportunities to go hiking, rock climbing or participate in other activities or sports with your friends because you’re out of shape, or if you’re concerned that high blood pressure, diabetes or other serious health issues are looking in your future if you don’t improve your lifestyle, there’s a gym in town that wants to help. If you’re already a fitness buff, but your gym isn’t open hours that are convenient to you, or if you’re afraid of making a Fitness One Perks longtime commitat a Glance: • 24-hour access with ment before you membership card are sure the place • Free aerobics classes is right for you, included with membership • Classes offered as early there’s a gym in as 6 a.m., as late as 7 p.m. town that can meet those con• Month-to-month; no contract cerns, too. • Clean facility and friendly Happily, they staff are one and the • Cardio section with same: Fitness integrated TVs and cable One, in Norman. • 24-hour cycling movie The owners theater • 24-hour women’s only and staff of Fitsection ness One in Nor• Rock-climbing wall with man understand auto belays all those concerns • State-of-the art selectorized, plate-loaded — really! — and stand ready and and strength equipment willing to show • Nationally certified personal trainers you around the • Full tanning salon facilities and dis• Full smoothie bar cuss how they can help you meet your fitness goals. Fitness One welcomes anyone at any fitness level and has the tools to get you in the best shape of your life. Owners Chase and Cassie Bridgforth explain some of the factors that set their gym apart from most other gyms. “We offer 24-hour access, fantastic group fitness classes and have top-of-the-line equipment,” Cassie said. “We are locally owned and operated but able to bring the best in equipment from many different brands all together in one location.” Because “one size doesn’t fit all,” Fitness One strives to offer a wide range of fitness options. For instance, some people enjoy exercising solo, while others discover that having a family member or friend as a partner adds a fun factor to the equation as well as helps keep them motivated. Many members find they work harder and achieve bet-
cent body fat in that short time by working out and eating healthy! No crazy crash diets, fat burning supplements, or gimmicks.”
Transcript Photo by Kyle Phillips
Owners Chase and Cassie Bridgforth strive to make Fitness One a convenient and excellent facility for people who want to be healthy, get in shape or just have a good time. ter results in the friendly atmosphere of the involved with group fitness, take boot group fitness classes offered free to all camps, meet with a trainer - when a memmembers. ber can get involved in the community and For the variety seekers, Fitness One accountability of exercising with friends, he organizes rock-climbing events, boot camps or she achieves much better results and and wellness talks for members. Spinning, they enjoy their time spent exercising. Zumba, TRX, yoga and Pilates classes also Working out should be enjoyable and are offered. rewarding.” “We’re constantly improving our proTo that end, the Fitness One staff is spegrams, adding new equipment, and finding cially trained to focus on their members. ways to stay on the cutting edge of the fit“We try to make every person feel welness industry,” she added. come, and are genuinely concerned with One of the main messages Chase would their success while they’re here,” Cassie like to express is that fitness is an evolving said. “We offer a free personal training sesconcept. “Our gym takes a well-rounded sion to members when they sign up to get approach to a healthy lifestyle. The idea of them acquainted with what our facility fitness has changed so much from what it offers and involved in the gym so that they meant in the past. Fitness is no longer instantly become part of the community defined by how big your biceps are or how rather than an outsider starting from much weight you can push,” he said. “We scratch.” The couple is justifiably proud of their promote the idea of well-rounded, functional fitness that impacts a person’s every- many success stories. day life by making them feel better while “We have several members who have going about their everyday tasks. lost 80, 90, 100 pounds. One who stands out “We strive to be so much more than just is a male in his 50s who worked with a pera place to use equipment,” Cassie added. sonal trainer twice a week for six weeks,” “We encourage our members to get they recalled. “He lost an incredible 10 per-
A blessed history Many residents have wondered what brought Fitness One to Norman. After running track for four years at OU, Chase went into business with two lifelong family friends to open Fitness One in Norman. Chase graduated from OU with a degree in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. Cassie earned her OU degree in advertising. It was a fortunate pairing – one that equipped them to be an effective team in running a business. The couple consider themselves blessed to have found their niche in life. “The best part is the people,” Cassie says. “You see so many amazing transformations, not only physically, but also mentally. You can see the changes in a person’s confidence and their pride at achieving their goals. Norman is full of so many great people, and we are fortunate to meet and get to know them through our business. We’re positive we have the best job around.” Fitness One right for you? Convinced yet? Are you pumped up, ready to begin your personal fitness adventure? If so, the staff at Fitness One invites you to drop in and learn what this unique gym has to offer you. For those just starting their fitness regimen, the staff is available to help set realistic goals and determine how those goals can best be achieved. A great jumpstart is to work with one of their nationally certified personal trainers, who can guide, motivate and teach you while you are starting out. Cassie stresses that the initial few weeks are the most important time in developing the habits that will get you to your goals. Once you begin to see the results and feel the changes in your everyday life, it is much easier to stay the course. For more information about Fitness One call 701-4004, or drop in for a tour at 2301 36th Ave NW. More information as well as a current group fitness schedule is also available online at www.fitnessoneclubs.com. This is a paid advertorial by Fitness One.
Norman 2012 VISION
Health • From Page 5 Numerous communities have adopted Clean Indoor Air and Youth Access ordinances that mirror the state laws and are clearly ready to take responsible measures to increase the health and economic development within their communities. By changing the social norm around smoking, Oklahoma is changing the environment that youth grow up in, creating healthier, smoke-free environments, according to Leslea Bennett-Webb, director of communications, Oklahoma State Department of Health. Some key factors include: • Since 1992, Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate has been consistently higher than the national average. • Oklahoma had the largest rise in obesity rates between 1995 to 2010 and is projected to have the highest obesity rate in the country by 2018. • Led the nation for deaths due to heart disease. • Oklahoma’s prevalence for smoking
HEALTH is 23.7 percent. Smoking is costly in both health and monetary terms. Statistics show that smoking-caused monetary costs in Oklahoma include $1.6 billion annually in health care costs directly caused by smoking, said Bennett-Webb. Of those costs $218 million is covered by the state Medicaid program. The state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused governmental expenditures is $550 per household while the cost of smoking-caused loss of productivity in Oklahoma is estimated at $1.73 billion. Obesity is costly. Oklahoma spends $853 Million on obesity-related diseases each year and Oklahoma employers lose billions of dollars annually in lost productivity and absenteeism among unhealthy workers, said Bennett-Webb. The Certified Healthy Oklahoma program is providing an avenue for businesses, restaurants, communities, schools, college campuses and career technology centers to be acknowledged for their efforts to help Oklahomans eat better, move more and be tobacco free, said Bennett-Webb.
Norman 2012 VISION
Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau at new address By Stephanie Brickman For the Transcript
Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director Stephen Koranda
If the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director Stephen Koranda had to pick a soundtrack to thematically underscore the organization’s 2011 year, likely the first song would be “ChCh-Changes.” From the June microburst storm that ripped the roof from the NCVB’s Downtown Norman site to a new website to personnel changes, just about everything changed in 2011. “We are nothing if not able to change the path to go the same direction which is to attract visitors, conventions, conferences and sporting events to Norman,” Koranda said. “We may be doing all of it from a different location and with different people but the measurables show that transient guest tax receipts are up, the occupancy at hotels and beds and breakfasts jumped and per person expenditure of visitors increased.” In late August, the CVB moved from its
Downtown location to an office suite inside the United Way Plaza building, 2424 Springer Drive, near the intersection of Lindsey Street and 24th Ave. SW. After moving from Downtown, Koranda said that the disadvantage to leaving the historic district is that there are no longer three places within walking distance that offer sweet-potato fries. However, ice cream from Braum’s is a block away. “We made some tradeoffs,” he said. Between the green directional wayfinders on Lindsey Street and 24th Ave. SW and new signs at the building, leading visitors to the offices has been a training process. “It has taken a while to get the word out that we have moved, but we are seeing more and more foot traffic the longer we are on Springer Drive,” Koranda said. To take advantage of the convenient location for interstate travelers, the NCVB also is advertising on a billboard between Purcell and Norman and has applied for additional directional signage off Interstate 35 through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation directing visitors to the easy-to-
find building that actually faces the heavily traveled thoroughfare. “There’s been discussion since the CVB started (in the early ’90s) about whether we should be Downtown or near the interstate,” Koranda said. “The storm damage and need to relocate is providing an opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of where many believe we should be.” Into the new space, the CVB also welcomed new staffers in 2011. Longtime Norman hospitality professional Susan Bash joined the organization as a sales manager in August while former Norman Transcript staffer Stefanie Brickman hit the ground running as communications manager in September. “We are poised for tremendous growth as a result of all the changes that took place in 2011,” Koranda said. “2012 will be a big year for us.” A newly designed VisitNorman.com debuted in May 2011. The results of the site being built for search-engine optimization are evident in the fact that traffic has doubled.
Norman 2012 VISION
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
Since its inception in 2006, 52 businesses have made their mar on Norman’s University North Park, and more are on the way.
TIF districts stimulate economic development By Joy Hampton Transcript Staff Writer
Fifty-two businesses have opened in Norman’s University North Park TIF District since Target landed there in October 2006. Of those, only five were transplants from other areas of Norman. An additional four stores opened but have closed or relocated. The newest additions to the TIF district iclude Discount Tire, 2900 Mount Williams Drive; Valliance Bank, 1501 24th Ave. NW, and Mathis Brothers Lady Americana, 1200 24th Ave. NW. And more are on the way. Though details have not been finalized yet, Crest Foods submitted a plat in February to the Norman Planning Commission which approved it, but the plat has not been scheduled to come before the Norman City Council yet. The UNP TIF started with a list of transportation improvements that would need to be built in response to development in that area. Those projects would address the additional traffic generated by the developement of the University North Park.
“There were very specific projects identified,” Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said. These transportation improvements were bult simultaneously with the development of the University North Park. “The main thing we’ve accomplished has been traffic and road improvements,” City Attorney Jeff Bryant said. The Legacy Park and the Village Center have not been developed yet, but it has long been understood that those would be among the last pieces to fall into place in the UNP, Bryant said. While a slowed economy has affected development, the number of businesses that have come to University North Park and the increase to the city’s tax base at a crucial time have been beneficial. “In the University North Park there was nothing — it wasn’t on the tax rolls,” Bryant said. He said it was more efficient to put up the infrastructure concurrent with the development. In a TIF district, an anticipated revenue stream that will grow with the development is identified and banks
are asked to fund the project. In the case of UNP the University of Oklahoma Foundadion provided additional security to back the loan, Bryant said, and the first finacing lender was the OU Foundation. Bryant has worked on the negotiations with the developer and city staff attorney Katherine Walker has tracked details regarding the UNP TIF. The city’s finance department has been responsible for tracking the TIF diverted ad valorem and sales taxes and a special citizen’s TIF Oversight Committee is charged with overseeing the implementation of the project plan. The TIF Architectural Review Board approves the aesthetic designs proposed by businesses that build in the TIF district. Legacy Park will contain a pond surrounded by restaurants. The Legacy Park Drive has not been constructed yet, but will be built simultaneous with Crest Foods. “We’ve got the money, we’re working on the design,” Capital Projects Engineer John Clink said. The Legacy Park Drive is expect• See TIF, Page 11
University North Park Infrastructure improvements proposed in conjunction with University North Park TIF • 24th Avenue NW at Robinson Street: widening and new traffic signals and striping — completed • Robinson at East Interstate 35 Drive widening, traffic signal, nothrbound reconstruciton and interstate ramps, drainage, sidewalks and utilities — designed and bid, will break ground in April • Robinson Street and West Interstate 35 Drive and Crossroads Boulevard widening, southbound service road and traffic signal — will start design this year; contstruction a couple of years out • Tecumseh Road at Flood Avenue and 24th Avenue NW widening and left-turn, traffic signals and add lanes — some improvements completed, more coming • Tecumseh Road at East Interstate 35 Drive widening, traffic signal and northbound ramp — some improvements completed, more coming • Tecumseh at West Interstate 35 Drive widening, traffic signal and striping — some improvements completed, more coming • Interstate 35 Franotage Rod from Robinson west and connecting back to 24th — partially complete • 24th Avenue Intersection Improvements including five median opeenings, left turn bays signals — three-quarters completed; Legacy Drive in planning stages will develop with Crest Foods Note: Tecumseh improvements were done with ACOG administered federal and state funds and contributions by developers and Norman Regional Health System.
Norman 2012 VISION
Campus Corner TIF comes to end with $100K balance By Joy Hampton Transcript Staff Writer
The Campus Corner TIF helped upgrade infrastructure such as sewers, pavement repairs, and light poles along with adding aesthetic appeal including sidwalk enhancements, trees, bike racks, benches and trash cans. The new street scape of the Corner has been popular with businesses and patons alike. “Campus Corner was very well received,” said Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary. In addition to increasing the aesthetic appeal, a lot of issues associated with Americans with Disabilities Act mandates were addressed with improved ramps, sidewalks and signal modifications to make it safer for people with disabilities to traverse the area. “We made it more accessible,” O’Leary said. The Campus Corner Merchants Association worked as a liaison between Corner businesses and the city. With the wish list from businesses, the city was able to create a budget and prioritize projects. One thing that did not happen as a result of the TIF was merchants wanted power lines under ground. That improvement proved to cost prohibitive, Captial Projects Engineer John Clink said. City staff designed the improvements and bid out the projects where were completed in three packages over the course of three years, Clink said. That TIF project has come to an end now and all sales tax currently is going to the city again with none being diverted to the TIF but there is a balance of about $100,000 in the Campus Corner TIF account, O’Leary said. Discussions continue on how that money can legally be used. Campus Corner merchants would like to put that money into a parking garage to help alleviate parking problems, but a garage would be a $5 million project, O’Leary said. Still, there could be other means to help alleviate parking and those are being explored.
Joy Hampton / For The Transcript
Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary and Capital Projects Engineer John Clink look over the master plan for University North Park development
TIF: A cultural center is on the UNP horizon • From Page 10 ed to be bid in late summer and should be a 90 day construction project. “Crest is the one driving the need for this intersection,” O’Leary said. The addition of the Legacy Park intersection also will provide easier access to merchants such as Petco that fall midway along the development between Target on the south and Academy on the north. The completion of the frontage road further north where it will eventually tie back in with 24th Avenue is also on the horizon, O’Leary and Clink said.
North of the retail development and north of Rock Creek Road the TIF district includes an area for industry. Land owned by the Norman Economic Develpment Coalition backs up to the airport. A business there can have a hangar on the UNP side of the land. There is the potential for industrial development all the way to Tecumseh Road, O’Leary said. The UNP allowed for city controled design. “Basically, we had a clean pallet,” Clink said. “We were able to look at the whole system and plan it propertly. We just don’t get that
opportunity very often.” Planning for a “clean pallet” is very different than trying to retrofit an area for improvements later, he said. “All of the parties involved had the same vision,” O’Leary said. “I think it has turned out very well and it’s not even halfway developed.” A cultural center to help anchor the Village Center — the most upscale portion of the UNP will be another boon for residents and could be a draw for tourists as well. So far ideas for that cultural center include a weather museum, an aquatic center or a gymnastics museum.
What is a TIF
How does TIF work?
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a tool available to local governments in Oklahoma to assist economic development within an area known as a TIF District. TIF is used for redevelopment and community improvement projects throughout the United States for more than half a century. TIF has also become an often-used financing mechanism for municipalities.
TIF is a tool to use future gains in taxes to finance the current improvements that will create those gains. When a public project such as a road or school is carried out, there is an increase in the value of surrounding real estate, and often new investment (new or rehabilitated buildings, for example). This increased site value and investment creates more taxable property, which increases tax revenues. The increased tax revenues are the "tax increment." Tax Increment Financing dedicates that increased revenue to finance debt issued to pay for the project. TIF is designed to channel funding toward improvements in distressed or underdeveloped areas where development would not otherwise occur. TIF creates funding for public projects that may otherwise be unaffordable to local governments.
Source: Oklahoma Department of Commerce
Source: Oklahoma Department of Commerce
Norman 2012 VISION
Norman Regional Health System provides expert care By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
You’ve heard it before. Receiving immediate expert medical help is key to surviving a stroke or heart attack, as well as any other serious illness or injury. Now, more than ever, Norman Regional Health System stands poised to offer that critical life-saving care, thanks to the addition to their staff of intensivists — specially trained physicians who are board-certified in critical medicine. To explain it in layperson’s terms, intensivists care for the sickest of the sick. In response to a trend of patients being admitted to the hospital in an acutely ill condition during the past five years, Norman Regional Health System in 2006 hired its first four intensivists. Another has since been added. All are based in critical care units, where they are among the first responders when a critically ill patient first arrives at the hospital. Currently, Norman Regional Health System is the only non-teaching hospital in the metropolitan area that provides 365-days-ayear, around-the-clock intensivist care. “Having intensivists on staff allows for the standardization of care in our health system,” explains Dr. Aaron Boyd, one of Norman Regional’s intensivists. David Whitaker, Norman Regional Hospital president and chief executive officer, points out another benefit of intensivists: “It gives the health system the ability to provide interdisciplinary care by a single team, leading to a better outcome for our patients being treated in a critical care situation.” Greg Terrell, Norman Regional Hospital chief operating officer, offers a similar assessment: “Given the critically ill status of these patients, our intensivist program offers continuous care from highly skilled and experienced physician specialists.” The intensivist program is only one of many new services and programs launched by the Norman Regional Health System in the past few years. Perhaps the biggest change in recent history has been the expansion of facilities. In addition to the 324-bed original facility on North Porter Avenue, Norman Regional has grown into a multi-campus system that now serves health care needs throughout south-central Oklahoma. Moore Medical
The Norman Regional Heart Plaza is coming soon and will be located at Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road, next to the HealthPlex hospital. This 40,000 square foot medical building will house physician offices, diagnostic services, a lab area, cardiac rehabilitation and much more. The building is scheduled to open February 2013. Center, a 45-bed facility, provides general medical and surgical needs, physical therapy, obstetrical services, 24-hour emergency service and diagnostic imaging to that community. The beautiful new, stateof-the-art HealthPlex campus at Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road, licensed for 136 beds, features cardiovascular services, spine and orthopedic surgery, and women’s and children’s services. And that’s not counting the system’s physician clinics, outpatient locations and numerous lab draw stations. Other Norman Regional Health System offerings include outpatient diagnostic centers, medical transport services, physician services, centers of excellence, durable medical equipment supplies, a primary care network, a community wellness service,
and employer health services. The system has grown to employ more than 2,700 people, and has 356 physicians credentialed on the medical staff. Many of Norman Regional Health System’s services have been recognized by the Joint Commission — a national organization dedicated to patient safety and quality. Norman Regional is certified by the Joint Commission in Disease Specific Care in two areas, both designated by the hospital as centers of excellence: the Stroke Center and the Total Knee and Hip Replacement program. Additionally, Norman Regional’s Diabetes Center is certified as a Center of Excellence by the American Diabetes Association, which assures that its educational programs meet national standards, and the
Norman Regional Hyperbaric and Wound Care Center is certified as a Center of Excellence by Diversified Clinical Services for its high clinical outcomes. Check out Norman Regional’s website normanregional.com to discover what all this community-centered hospital system has to offer. From a multimedia encyclopedia where you can research a disease or symptom or learn how to prepare for a surgery to a speakers bureau, you’ll be surprised at the resources available to you – as a patient, potential patient, or simply someone seeking information. There’s even a “Community Connections” site, where readers can find out how Norman Regional is serving the community. This is a paid advertorial by Norman Regional Heath System.
Norman 2012 VISION
Reynolds Ford celebrated 60 years of serving the driving needs of Cleveland County residents on Feb. 2.
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
Dealerships on track to meet or beat 2011 sales By James S. Tyree For the Transcript
Sales at many Norman new car dealerships are shifting into high gear after lean years in the late 2000s when vehicle sales were stuck in neutral — if not thrown in reverse. “We’ve seen about a 40 percent increase from 2010 to ’11, from 1,400 to 1,500 to almost 2,200 — and that’s just in retail sales,” said Gary Burton, general manager at Ferguson Buick GMC. Furthermore, Burton and managers at other dealerships say sales this year at their respective businesses are on pace, so far, to exceed last year’s totals. Managers credit the rising sales to recovering national and local economies, exciting car redesigns, new driverand passenger-friendly technologies and improving fuel efficiency amidst rising gas prices. Ben Hayes, new car sales manager at Marc Heitz Chevrolet, said the Chevrolet Volt, an electric hybrid car that can average more than 100 miles per gallon of gas, has been selling well for a niche-type vehicle especially among shoppers who commute 10 or fewer miles each way to work. Ford vehicles, meanwhile, offer “eco-boost” twin turbo engines in cars, trucks and SUVs that pack more power while requiring less gasoline.
“Four-cylinder engines have six-cylinder power and you can buy a V6 with V8 power, and they’re more fuel efficient,” said Robert Johnson,” new vehicle director at Reynolds Ford. “We tell our rural customers from the farm who are used to driving pickups with V8 engines that now they can have more power in a V6.” Most U.S. and foreign car companies offer an expanding range of flex fuel hybrid cars and trucks that run on gas or ethanol. Vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, particularly vans and pickups, are also beginning to show up at Norman dealerships. Their advatage is obvious — CNG costs less than $2 per gallon while gas creeps toward $4 per gallon, which could make CNG-powered vehicles become more popular over time. The negatives, at least for now, is that CNG vehicles cost thousands more than gasolinepowered vehicles, relatively few models are available and there are few compressed natural gas pumps. But improved mileage isn’t the only motivation for new car, truck and SUV shoppers. Hayes said that Marc Heitz, for instance, ranked 16th last year out of about 4,000 Chevy dealerships nationwide in Corvette sales. Innovations to enhance the driving experience is another reason for excitement. Johnson of Reynolds Ford, which celebrated its 60th anniversary on Feb. 2, • See DEALERSHIPS, Page 15
Norman-area dealerships Automax Hyundai of Norman 551 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK, 73069 364-2000 http://automaxhyundainorman.com
Fowler Honda 617 N. Interstate Dr. Norman, OK 73069-6346 329-1077 www.fowlerhonda.com
Big Red Sports & Imports 418 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73072 364-4400 www.bigredsports.com
Fowler Toyota/Scion 4050 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73072 321-1301 www.fowlertoyota.com
Bob Moore Cadillac Saab of Norman 2505 W. Main St. Norman, OK 73069 329-2222 www.bobmoorenorman.com
Fowler Volkswagen of Norman 591 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73069 310-4444 www.fowlervw.com
Bob Moore Nissan 3901 Journey Pkwy. Norman, OK 73072 217-7000 www.nissan.bobmoore.com Ferguson Buick GMC 1015 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73069 321-5820 www.fergusonchallenge.com
Marc Heitz Chevrolet Inc. 1221 Ed Noble Pkwy. Norman, OK 73070 321-7021 www.marcheitzchevy.com Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge 481 N. Interstate Dr. Norman, OK 73069 321-8228 www.normanchryslerjeepdodge.com Reynolds Ford, Lincoln & Mazda 821 N. Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73070 321-2411 http://reynoldsautos.com
Norman 2012 VISION
Fowler Toyota recently opened a new facility along “The Mile of Cars” in northwest Norman near Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road.
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
Dealerships • From Page A1 said voice-activated navigation systems are popular among customers “for safety and the fun of it.” Burton said even smaller cars, like Buick’s new compact Verano, can be “loaded with luxuries.” The local dealerships themselves are also generating buzz as several have renovated and expanded their showrooms, have recently done so, or are building new facilities altogether. Bob Moore Nissan and Fowler Toyota recently have opened new facilities in northwest Norman near Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road after Marc Heitz completed its huge ecofriendly showroom off I-35 and Lindsey Street. On the “Mile of Cars” along Interstate Drive, Fowler Honda has a new look and Ferguson Buick GMC is undergoing a yearlong renovation in phases while staying open for business. The modern-looking showrooms offer a variety of amenities for car shoppers and for those waiting on repairs. But bigger and brighter buildings and lots are only the start of a new shopping
Still ahead: MNTC helps train a workforce, 26; OU research campus growing, 28
experience. Burton said the biggest change in buying a vehicle now compared with only a few years ago is the Internet. Ferguson Buick GMC usually gets more than 10,000 hits per month, many of which come from potential buyers doing their homework on deals and vehicles. But when it comes time to buy, shoppers “still want to actually see that car, get in that car and sit in it to get the feel of it — and we still have to take care of our customers.” “The floor traffic today compared to, say, 2005 is nothing, but when someone comes in, they’re much more likely to know what they want and they are serious about buying,” he said. Much has changed at Marc Heitz Chevrolet in recent months and years, from its giant windmills, aquariums and amphitheater, to introductions or redesigns of every line of Chevy. Yet Hayes insists the fundamentals remain the same for all successful car dealers. “People are still looking for quality and you have to earn people’s trust, now more than ever, with excellent performance and service,” he said.
Norman 2012 VISION
Spaulding Chiropractic ensures a healthy lifestyle By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
“Dr. Spaulding’s treatment has changed the way I look at health and nutrition. It has given me an understanding of how the body works and operates. It’s not just a great symptom reliever; it actually deals with the heart of the problem.” – Kelly Ross, Norman “I had been having problems with my back for years. He addressed all my concerns, and instantly made me feel at ease. Now I can go throughout my day without pay. He is not just a great doctor, but now a great friend!” – Brandon Jones, D.D.S., Duncan These glowing testimonials are just a sampling of the many Norman chiropractic Dr. Matt Spaulding has received over the years, including the seven he has practiced in Norman. Among the conditions for which patients come to him for treatment: fibromyalgia, headaches/migraines, arthritis and bursitis, as well as pain, stiffness and/or numbness of the back, neck, hip, shoulder, arms and legs. He can even address carpal tunnel syndrome. People of any age, from newborn to geriatric, can benefit from chiropractic treatment, he says. For example, in the case of pre-teens, Spaulding says his treatment can help prevent scoliosis — a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. He also offers treatments for teens who have suffered an injury or strain playing sports. And in the case of newborns and older babies, Spaulding says, he has had great success alleviating colic and ear infections. Spaulding says he specializes in “diversified,” or “old-fashioned,” chiropractic medicine — in other words, he places an emphasis on time-tested treatments and remedies, including massage – though that doesn’t mean he doesn’t keep up with, and turn to, newer treatment options when called for. One of the newer treatments he is employing to great success in select patients is decompression therapy. Spaulding said he has used this FDA-
Matt Spaulding offers treatments for all ages, promoting that health is important all ages and it’s never too early to take steps. More on Dr. Matt Spaulding A Norman native, Spaulding graduated from Community Christian School in Norman, then went on to complete his undergraduate prerequisites at the University of Oklahoma before enrolling at the Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas, where he completed more than 4,600 hours of classroom instruction and was named to the honor roll. He then returned to Norman to establish his practice, modeling his after longtime Norman chiropractors and mentors Dr. J.G. Smith and Dr. Walter Thomas Carroll. Norman Transcript readers may recall reading about Spaulding last November, when he was featured in a story after competing in his first body-building competition. (He won first in his division: lightweight novice.) In that article, Spaulding discusses his very early introduction to chiropractic medicine – as a 5-year-old patient of Dr. Smith following a three-wheeler accident also involving his oldest brother, Dave, and his father. Smith treated both his father, whose shoulder was dislocated in the accident, and Matt, who suffered a back injury. In sixth grade, Spaulding jammed his neck while playing football, and once again, Smith treated him. His career course took a straight line from there, and at the age of 24, he reached his lifetime goal of establishing his own chiropractic office in his hometown.
approved, clinically tested computerized treatment on patients suffering from a variety of issues, including pain from bulging or herniated discs, hip or leg pain, sciatica, neck or arm pain, degeneration and arthritis. Decompression therapy, he explains, is a nonsurgical means of providing relief for those suffering from pain to the lower back and neck. Not only is the treatment painless, there are no harmful side effects, such as people frequently experience from medications (notably pain and muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections) or surgery. Decompression therapy, otherwise known as spinal decompression therapy, is a spinal disc rehabilitation program – generally considered very safe – that slowly and gently stretches the area of the spine while decompressing the discs. Using this technique in stretching the spine allows a vacuum effect to occur inside the discs. This type of pressure can reposition the retraction of the bulging or herniated disc to the inside of the disc, taking pressure off the nerve root and relieving the patient of pain. Only very small steps are taken during each therapy session, which typically take place over a period of four to six weeks. Throughout the cycles of decompression therapy, water, nutrient-rich fluids and oxygen are diffused from the outside of the discs to the inside, promoting healing. Whatever the source of a patient’s pain or malady, Spaulding explains that decompression therapy, as with the other treatments he offers, is aimed at regaining, and maintaining, homeostasis in the body. His favorite quote is one by Thomas Edison that appears to support this approach: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Want to learn more? For more information or to schedule a consultation, call (405) 447-WELL (9355). Spaulding Family Chiropractic is located at 927 N. Flood Ave., Suite 107. This is a paid advertorial by Spaulding Chiropractic.
Norman 2012 VISION
Primrose Funeral Service offers compassion, respect By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
Since its founding in 1931 by Odies Primrose and George Jansing, proprietors and the staff of Primrose Funeral Service in Norman have striven to provide families and friends with compassionate care during what can be one of the hardest, stressful times in a person’s life. Over the years, Primrose has grown and evolved in a never-ending quest to serve its clientele in ways never imagined by its founders. From the advent of the World Wide Web and through the state and nation’s cyclical economic booms and busts, Primrose has worked to make planning a funeral as painless as humanly possible, with plans to meet any budget. Today, the proprietors and staff of Primrose Funeral Service — which since 1994 has been a member of the Dignity Memorial network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers — additionally offering a number of services and programs that continue to address the needs of survivors after the funeral or memorial service. One of these programs is LIFT, or Living Information For Today. Now in its ninth year, LIFT – which is sponsored by Primrose Funeral Service and Sunset Memorial Park – is a social support program formed to help widows and widowers adjust to the loss of their spouses by giving members opportunities to socialize with others who share similar feelings and experiences. “LIFT can be considered a first step in getting back into the social world,” explains LIFT coordinator Debbie Taylor. “The group dynamics are always changing as new people join and others find it is time to take the next step. There are many members who have stayed on because of the remarkable fellowship they enjoy.” In fact, Taylor added, several marriages and enduring friendships have come about through involvement in LIFT. “It truly is a joy to hear the chatter and laughter of these folks as they once again begin to enjoy life,” she added. LIFT programs are designed to spark interest and promote discussion. Some programs have a learning focus; travel, identity theft, estate planning and gardening are some topics in this category. Other programs are designed with entertainment as the primary goal. Members have been
The staff of Primrose Funeral Service strives to provide familes and friends compassionate care and respectful service. treated to an Elvis Presley impersonator, “Music Doctor” and live jazz. Yet other programs fuse education with entertainment – cooking demonstrations and flower arranging, for example. Members also enjoy an annual “mystery dinner” and day trips to such venues as zoos, museums and the aquarium in Jenks. All widows and widowers – regardless of what funeral home or cemetery they have used in the past – are invited to join LIFT and “enjoy a good meal, interesting conversation and fellowship,” Taylor said, noting that the group meets for lunch the fourth Thursday of each month at the Primrose Event Center, 1109 N. Porter Ave. There are no membership fees, and firsttime guests enjoy a complimentary lunch. LIFT proved to be so successful that, two years ago, some of its members branched off to form another group. The Sewing Circle is a public service-oriented group whose members have created lap blankets for the Norman Women’s Shelter, neck coolers for U.S. troops serving overseas, clothing for children in Africa and sock monkeys for the Cleveland County Christmas Store. Also
open to all widows and widowers, the Sewing Circle meets the first Thursday of each month at the same location as the LIFT group. For more information on LIFT and the Sewing Circle, to make a reservation or to be placed on the mailing lists, please contact Debbie Taylor or LIFT co-coordinator Wanda Hart at 321-6000. In addition to coordinating funeral and cemetery arrangements, Primrose Funeral Service offers exclusive benefits that allow Primrose to stand out from the competition: • An event center that can accommodate events ranging from an intimate coffee social to a family gathering of up to 100 people • A bereavement travel program where anyone who is coming to the funeral services can call and receive potential savings of up to $1,100 on airfare, car rental and hotel • 24-hour Compassion Helpline and access to an acclaimed grief-management library • A personal planning guide, which
allows users to record their final arrangement choices and essential estate and personal information. John W. Davenport, general manager of Primrose Funeral Service and Sunset Memorial Park, invites you to learn about all of the programs and services offered by Primrose Funeral Service by speaking with one of their representatives by phone (321-6000), in person at Primrose, 1109 N. Porter Ave., or by visiting their website at www.primrosefuneralservice.com. You can also check Primrose out on Facebook. There, you can read staff bios, learn about upcoming events and more! Times may have changed a lot since 1931, but Primrose Funeral Service takes pride in continuing to evolve with the local community, plus the added value that comes from being a part of one of the largest and most trusted networks of funeral, cremation and memorialization services in the country. This is a paid advertorial by Primrose Funeral Home.
Norman 2012 VISION
Sysco Oklahoma provides and encourages a safe environment By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
“Good things come from Sysco.” Indeed, they do. And that’s fortunate for countless students, patients, diners and others across the state and nation, who are among the millions of people who consume and utilize their products, including fresh, frozen, canned and dry food as well as a variety of paper, janitorial, disposable and equipment products, which are stocked and delivered by North America’s premier foodservice distributor. Heading up Sysco Oklahoma, which services most of Oklahoma and parts of neighboring states, is 1982 University of Oklahoma accounting alumnus Chris K. Davis, a 26-year Sysco veteran. Since joining the local management team in 2005, Davis has tackled a number of challenges, including a major expansion of the facility to better accommodate its growing customer base and broaden the products the company can offer. In 2002, an outdated, inefficient facility was replaced with a new one that included more than 220,000 square feet of warehouse and office space on 40 acres. In 2011, Sysco Oklahoma acquired 10 adjacent acres, and the company recently completed its new facility expansion, which added more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space, including freezer, cooler and dry areas, bringing the total facility to 325,000 square feet. The new facility includes storage areas with multiple temperature zones (10 degrees F. below 0 and up) to accommodate various product requirements and two large automated product storage and retrieval systems Transcript Photo by Kyle Phillips that efficiently process thou- Sysco Oklahoma provides food throughout the state, including Norman Public Schools and sands of items using an intelli- several local resturants.
gent crane with a series of racks, bins and trays. “This state-of-the-industry facility provides a safe and efficient work environment for our employees to ensure great service to our customers,” Davis said. Davis also is proud that the parent corporation selected Sysco Okahoma to be the second pilot company for a multi-year business transformation project that resulted in a significant upgrade of its information systems and support processes and streamlining of its operations. Also during Davis’ watch, Sysco Oklahoma — with approximately 300 employees — has earned the reputation as having one of the most safe, productive and efficient operations in the Sysco system, and has been on the forefront of the growing national trend of promoting healthy lifestyles among its employees. Sysco Oklahoma has been a Certified Health Employers for several years, Davis points out. Davis noted that Sysco Oklahoma is a strong supporter of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, and annually sponsors the ProStart Invitational, a culinary competition held among high school and technical schools that have culinary arts programs. ProStart is a nationwide program for foodservice career training used by dozens of high schools in the state. Sysco Oklahoma has come a long way since its start in 1990, with the purchase of the food service business of Scrivner Foods. Today, Sysco Oklahoma is the primary foodservice supplier for the state of Oklahoma, including its institutions and many school systems. Its clients include large management companies, such as Sodexo, the foodservice operation for the Norman Public Schools, among others, as well as small local chains, large national chains and independent restaurants. It even provides menu, culinary, management and operations consulting to its customers. Good things truly do come from Sysco. This is a paid advertorial by Sysco Oklahoma.
Norman 2012 VISION
First American Bank improving for customers needs By Jerri Culpepper Special for the Transcript
What do you look for in a bank? Some of the more common answers might include: • Locally owned and operated; • FDIC insured, with a stable history; • Large enough to be competitive, but small enough to maintain that small-town feel; • Convenient locations; • Competitive rates; • Ready access, including a robust Web presence; • Availability of expanded financial services; • Friendly staff; Check all of the above – and more! Oklahoma owned and operated, First American Bank is guided by a commitment to the financial strength of families, businesses and organizations, coupled with community involvement and support. And it is no recent upstart: originally chartered in 1935, this bank has thrived since 1990 under the watchful eye of the Mayes family, longtime Norman residents. Today, the bank has assets totaling more than $300 million, and has nine locations throughout the state. And while the bank’s corporate headquarters are in Norman, it could as easily rest at any one of its locations, says Neil Schemmer, First American Bank president and chief lending officer. “We don’t consider the bank as having branches, but as a bank with multiple footprints,” he explains, adding, “Our customers are very diverse – ranging from farming and smallbusiness owners in our rural markets to commercial real estate specialists and business entrepreneurs in our suburban markets.” To attract and maintain its customers in this volatile time in the national banking industry, First American Bank offers an attractive assortment of services and features, including: • One of the most competitive loan rates in the industry. • Ready access to accounts through a network of banking centers, ATMs, telephone, mobile and Internet banking. • Local involvement of the bank’s employees, who contribute countless hours and dollars to a range of organizations in the community.
First American Bank views themselves as partners, not just bankers. Helping their customers succeed. Regarding the last item, Schemmer notes that First American is widely recognized — by community and media leaders as well as banking regulators — for its commitment to serving in a leadership role to the banking profession. Always looking toward ways to make banking even better and more convenient for its customers, Schemmer said First American customers can look forward to improved electronic banking abilities; the expansion of other financial services, such as financial planning and insurance products; and a continued expansion of other products and services. Recently, Schemmer was asked to share his perspectives on First American Bank’s lending practices compared with national practices, about the loan climate in Oklahoma, and about what sets First American apart from other banks with similar missions. Below are the questions and his responses. Q: With the economic climate we’ve experienced the past three and a half years, it seems that banks have been reluctant to lend especially to businesses. Is that still the case? And if not, why not? A: I think that there is a national perception that banks have not been willing to lend; however, in Oklahoma, our situation has been much different. We have been very fortunate in Oklahoma in that the
recession didn’t impact us like it did in other parts of the country. Therefore, our banks didn’t stop lending; they just weren’t as aggressive as they were prior to the “Great Recession.” But, to answer your questions, I don’t know about other banks, but we very much want to lend money and are aggressively seeking out new opportunities with existing customers as well as seeking new customers, Q: Is this a good time to get a commercial loan? Why? A: I think that it is a great time to borrow money. Rates are the lowest that they have ever been, and banks are really looking for good loans. Because there are so many banks looking for loans, it really is a borrower’s market. Q: How are you seeing businesses use loans to grow or expend these days? A: For almost anything that you can imagine. We are currently financing a new building for a business that is allowing them to move to a higher customer traffic area. We are providing financing for a utility construction company that is continuing to grow their business. We are doing equipment loans that allow our customer to buy more equipment and replace existing equipment with more efficient equipment. Loans are used to do things that the borrowers’ current financial situation would not allow them to do without our
help. Q: How is having a relationship with a First American Banker an asset to a business? A: We are more than just your banker. We are your partner in your business. All our lenders have years of experience and are there to help our customers succeed. We serve as a sounding board for new ideas, a consultant to our customers as they tackle day-to-day issues, a financial analyst as they review their operating results, and a friend when they just need someone to talk to. Q: What are some of the other business banking products that First American offers? Are there any that customers seem to find particularly valuable? A: Our entire suite of business deposit products are very valuable. Not only do we offer a number of business deposit accounts, but we provide credit card merchant services, remote deposit capture, online banking that includes ACH origination and lock box services. Q: How would you describe First American Bank’s attitude toward small or locally owned businesses? A: We value our relationships with locally owned businesses, who represent the majority of our customers. Since we are a locally and family-owned business, we feel that we have a real connection with businesses that are just like us. We deal with the same issues and challenges that they do on a daily basis, which I feels allows us to better relate with those customers. Q: What is your passion when it comes to banking? In other words, what do you love about what you do? A: HELPING PEOPLE! A family friend who was a banker many years ago told me that the most important part of being a banker is helping people, and to not forget that. I have not forgotten this, and because of this I believe that I have helped many people over the years attain their financial dreams. For more information about what First American Bank offers individuals and businesses, visit www.BankFAB.com, or visit one of the bank’s friendly associates by phone at (405) 579-7000. This is a paid advertorial by First American Bank
Norman 2012 VISION
INDUSTRY Norman-area employers rely heavily on Moore Norman Technology Center to provide people with their basic skills. These employers then hire from this pool of skilled workers.
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
MNTC helps maintain a pool of skilled workers for area By James S. Tyree For the Transcript
For a city that’s home to the University of Oklahoma, the National Weather Center and many technology-, financialand health-related companies, Norman is one heck of a blue-collar town. Norman is known for academics and research, but its supply of, and demand for, skilled laborers also is strong. Companies of all sizes hire, train and depend on Norman-area plumbers, welders, electricians, computer experts and various technicians. “People tend to think of Norman as a white-collar town, but in reality we have tremendous blue-collar employment in Norman,” said Don Wood, executive director of the Norman Economic Development Coalition. Cleveland County reported a 42 percent increase in the hiring of specialty trade contractors when comparing the first quarters of 2010 and last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A report shows 164 trades people hired in the first quarter of 2011, up from 107 hirings in the first three months of 2010. The average quarterly employment for
that sector in Cleveland County, from second quarter 2010 through first quarter 2011, was 2,267 workers. A number of them work at Johnson Controls (the York plant), which is Norman’s largest private-sector employer at about 1,225 workers, and Hitachi which employs nearly 550 people. But Wood said a number of smaller but growing companies also are tapping into the area’s blue-collar workers. “There’s always a demand for workers in heat and air ... and always a demand for welders; we don’t seem to find enough,” he said. “Finding any kind of skilled labor is a challenge for our local employers, so they rely heavily on Moore Norman Technology Center to provide people with their basic skills, and then employers hire these skilled workers and provide additional training.” Moore Norman Technology Center, with campuses on Franklin Road in Norman and in far southwest Oklahoma City, offer career training programs for both high school students and adults. Career fields include but are not limited to computer and information technology, which includes video production and graphics and web design;
construction sector that includes air conditioning and refrigeration, carpentry, electrical and industrial systems and drafting; manufacturing area that offers machining, welding and pre-engineering; programs in automotive collision and service technologies “All the trade areas are popular; there is an opportunity in every area, if you want to learn,” said Steve Ketchum, Moore Norman’s executive director for long-term programs. “With our manufacturing and energy companies in the area, there are just unbelievable jobs right now and we stay full all the time.” Ketchum said about 60 percent of its students learning those and other career fields are high school students who spend part of their day at Moore Norman; the rest are adults. Moore Norman has about 1,150 students in career fields and about 40 percent of them are enrolled in trade programs. Health professions, welding, cosmetology, computer programming and electrical automated programs are typically the most popular career fields at Moore Norman, Ketchum said, though computer-aided design and drafting has
come on strong in recent years. Yet, Ketchums said Moore Norman graduates in all career fields are being hired by small businesses, small- to medium-sized manufacturers throughout the Oklahoma City area and beyond and even Tinker Air Force Base, where welders, machinists and automation workers are crucial. “We also do some retraining for York; there’s a dedicated facility for York,” Ketchum said. “Most of the adults may have mechanical knowledge but here they are learning specifics.” Ketchum agreed with Wood in saying many companies provide additional, more specialized training for employees after they are hired. The Norman-area job market provides numerous opportunities for blue-collar career advancement that Ketchum said are there for the taking. “If you want to learn and work, that’s the key,” he said. “You’ll have to become a lifelong learner to become a technician in any field because of how things change. HVAC is computerized now; the electrical field is automated. But if you want to learn, there are excellent opportunities.”
Norman 2012 VISION
Chamber aggressively pursues Norman’s interests By Joy Hampton Transcript Staff Writer
This year the Norman Chamber of Commerce put forward its first, legislative agenda created by the Chamber and approved by its board. Norman is the third-largest city and Cleveland County is the third most populous county in Oklahoma. “There is no reason why we should not be represented at the state capitol,” Chamber Board of Directors Chair Sean Rieger said earlier this year. President and CEO John Woods outlined the Chamber’s legislative agenda for the coming session at a special legislative breakfast, promising that the Chamber would be “very aggressive” in pursuing the Chamber’s goals with lawmakers. Recently, the Chamber expanded its efforts during a trip to the nation’s capitol in conjunction with representatives from the city of Norman and the University of Oklahoma. “We greatly appreciate the time we were given with Congressman Cole, Congressman Lankford, Senator Inhofe, and the staffs of the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation,” Rieger said. 2012 legislative priorities presented to Congressmen and Senators in D.C. included: • Support passage of Main Street Fairness Act ending unfair tax collection loophole for E-commerce •Support passage of the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act of 2011 — HR 3263 • Support Reauthorization of Water Resource Development Act of 2007 • Support Transportation Reauthorization Bill • Support Research from the University of Oklahoma Norman’s Downtown Historic District remains vibrant. The area now is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“We look forward to the support of the Congress on these items and we are thankful for the efforts of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation and our representatives in advancing them,” Rieger said. “We continue to monitor and advocate on the Norman Chamber's state legislative agenda as well and we appreciate the Norman legislative delegation's efforts that are supportive of our positions.” The stated agenda included economic development goals such as protecting tax incentives, especially the historic preservation tax credits and a request for funding for the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund. Energy issues and taxation are addressed as are transportation projects, notably the Interstate 35 project and associated right-of-way issues that could affect Norman businesses. Water is another issue and the Chamber asks that state legislators take care of Oklahoma before selling water outside of the state. “Water is vital to the ability to attract industry, to attract business,” Woods said. Workers Compensation was addressed with the request that Oklahoma laws attempt to find a balance between protecting workers while ensuring that Oklahoma’s businesses are not unduly burdened by the rising cost of workers comp insurance on employers. The Chamber also asked lawmakers to fund higher education and to work to attract and retain the most highly qualified teachers for all schools. “Having an educated workforce matters when it comes to attracting business to our state,” Woods said. Health care is also a hot button item and the Chamber is one of many partners who want a state heath care exchange rather than a federally imposed health care system.
Norman Chamber of Commerce 2012 State Legislative Agenda Economic Development • Support tax incentives that create and maintain jobs and investment in Oklahoma. • Support funding for the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund to attract new jobs. Energy • Maintain the necessary incentives for the exploration, production and refinement of Oklahoma oil and natural gas, while also supporting policies that encourage greater development and use of those resources. • Support the development of alternative energy resources to complement the use of oil and natural gas. • Oppose any unnecessary legislative or regulatory intrusion into energy industry. Lawsuit Reform • Continue to develop changes in Oklahoma’s civil justice system that will make it more responsive to the needs of business. Taxation • Support tax reform that grows Oklahoma’s economy and is fair to business. Transportation • Support the improvement and maintenance of the state’s transportation infrastructure. Water • Ensure that Oklahoma water laws, policies and regulations meet the needs of
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
Oklahoma’s citizens and assure adequate water to meet the future requirements of business and industry. Workforce Development • Support funding for Oklahoma’s career technology and higher education campuses to ensure affordable tuition for our citizens and encourage the growth of our jobs and our economy. • Allow local communities to support educational improvement based on local priorities. • Support development of a healthy and skilled workforce. • Support efforts to attract and retain talented teachers. • Support policies that encourage new ideas and innovation in the education field as a way to improve academic achievement. Workers’ Compensation • Support legislation to restructure Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation laws to create a fair and consistent system. Health Care • Support the creation of a statewide private-sector driven, web-based health insurance marketplace network system incorporating our state’s values, demographics, tax structure and principles rather than depending upon the federal government to require our state to utilize a onesize-fits-all government createdstructure which does not do so.
Norman 2012 VISION
Interests converge at university OU research campus envisioned as player in the global market
• Employees: 1,356 OU - 752 Federal - 234 Private - approx. 370 • Total Tenants 42, including university tenants • Square Footage 750,000 square feet built and operational (approximate) 250,000 square feet in planning stages (approximate) 11 buildings demolished since 2003 10 buildings constructed since 2003 277 acres overall 25 acres designated “site ready” by Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce
By Caitlin Schudalla Transcript Staff Writer
It’s a 271 acre conglomerate of industry, innovation, and academia representing hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars in research funding and innumerable opportunities for all involved. And it’s only getting bigger. The University of Oklahoma Norman Research Campus has been a burgeoning hub of mutually beneficial interaction between the university, private businesses, and federal agencies for years, with the campus’s crown jewel, the National Weather Center, opening in August 2006. While this world-class facility has created a global leader in weather research and prediction technology, OU’s Research Campus is about much more than just weather. “We’re looking to build a sense of place,” said Cameron McCoy, Executive Director for the Corporate Engagement Office at OU. “We envision the research campus to be an economic hotbed for the state, as well as a leader in research for private and governmental companies.” This vision is certianly gaining ground, with the addition of the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center and construction underway for fourth and fifth Partners Place buildings, altogether encompassing private industry and high-tech research projects in robotics, genomic studies, chemistry and biochemistry, to name a few. “This campus is a place where we have brought together very different groups with very different missions for mutual interaction and synergy. We can grow private sector jobs, we can do basic university research, and the federal government can use these to aid its responsibility to protect lives and property,” said Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research at OU. Interaction between university and private company is not exclusive to the research campus, as the Colleges of
BY THE NUMBERS: OU RESEARCH CAMPUS
• Research Funding Over $15 million in fiscal year 2010, not including researchers in the National Weather Center
Jerry Laizure / Transcript File Photo
Last November, University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced a $75 million, 5-year research agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the Research Campus. Craig McLean, right, in his role as acting NOAA assistant administrator, was on hand for the annoucement. Business and Engineering on the main campus have similar relationships with corporate entities. What distinguishes the research campus’s professional connections is the fact that many of them have established offices right across the street from the university’s labs and classrooms. As a soon-to-be tenant of the new Four Partner’s Place facility, Director of the university’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth Valerie Myers can attest to the advantages of this location. “We’ll be doubling our office space and we’re very much looking forward to the better technology and newer, more adaptable environment to house our large number of student interns. Because our focus is creating jobs and commercializing certain technologies, having the ready access to experts and people with doctorates will be a great advantage,” Myers said. “Having private companies on campus
is beneficial for both the companies and the university because research we do is of interest to them, and the close relationship enables companies to license and commercialize technologies we develop. Likewise, their presence on campus gives educators valuable insight into the technology and science needs of tomorrow, giving them innovative ideas about what to teach in their courses. It also means the students we produce are a workforce pipeline for these companies and can build rapport with potential employers through the internships they have while in school. It’s very much a winwin for everyone,” Droegemeier said. McCoy agrees, noting the campus’s uniquely central location and weatlh of usable space. “With our campus, there there is a lot of growth opportunity and access to the main • See RESEARCH, Page 29
• Students Employed Accurate data is still pending, but based on case studies of private companies on the research campus, student job opportunities are thriving. One tenant company, Agio, opened its doors in 2010, creating 40 news jobs with growth projected, and over half of these were filled by OU students. Another company, MSCI (Formerly Risk Metrics) has approximately 135 full time employees, with 80 to 90 percent of these having been either undergraduate or graduate students at OU at one time. • Average Salary Jobs on the Research Campus pay an average of nearly double Oklahoma’s median income and 1.5 times more than Norman’s median income which were $41,716 and $36,713 respectively, according to the 2009 U.S. Census. Updated information is pending. • Community Impact According to data provided by the Association of University Research Parks, for every one job created at a university research facility, 2.5 jobs are created in the community. The National Weather Center also provides educational opportunities to local k-12 students and community members, with roughly 10,000 k-12 visitors and 8,000 additional visitors to the center annually.
Norman 2012 VISION
Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
The National Weather Center, part of the OU Research Campus, is the home for many projects to extend the warning time for tornados from fourteen minutes to sixty minutes. This work puts the weather center and the research campus on the global forefront.
Research: OU poised to set itself apart from others • From Page 28 campus, with the added advantage of I-35 access and the neighboring golf course. Our campus is really second to none,” he said. A prime example of the research campus’s ongoing development is the anticipated addition of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s offices in the new Four Partner’s Place building, expanding another of the campus’s unique advantages of federal presence. Like the National Severe Storms Laboratory in the Weather Center, the Dept. of Interior’s operations will blend federal and university employees to flesh out the campus’s research expertise and boost its national presence as a center for regional climate development. “This addition achieves many goals which will help build our research arena in water issues, human health, sustainability of wetlands and will complement our enterprises with the Weather Center,” Droegemeier said.
According to McCoy, the federal presence also increases potential for grants and helps keep OU ahead competitively. “Other universities’ research campuses have a tendency to develop into business parks. With the federal presence we have a triple helix effect which is, in many ways, a microcosm of the science/industry relationship at large,” McCoy said. While the research campus’s ongoing development owes its success and innovation to these many factors, a major component of its trajectory of expansion is the forward thinking of its leaders. Plans for the development of the campus are still in their nascent stages, but based on the ambitions of planners and administration, the goal of unifying multiple disciplines will continue to blossom and set OU apart from its peers. “I am personally excited to see how we build density into the campus and get the new buildings to relate to each other. We’re focusing our efforts on encouraging random encounters and active
interaction between employees and researchers through more communal spaces like coffee shops, restaurants, workout facilities, etc,” McCoy said. “Right now there’s a lot of parking and open space separating the buildings and we recognize a need for a watering hole of sorts.” According to Droegemeier, an unofficial 20 year plan will integrate aesthetic improvements like fountains, as well as aspects of art and culture through outdoor sculptures and even an amphitheater. “We want to create a place where we study the world, while also making a statement to the world. We envision a dynamic, creative place where we’ve brought together these many entities which integrates the main campus, but sets itself apart. It will feel like a unversity but also like a very transformative place that reflects the work being done here. You don’t see stuff like this going on in other places,” Droegemeier said.
RESEARCH CAMPUS INDUSTRIES Private industry on the Research Campus employs 359 people. These industries and the number they employ include: Agio Inc.: 37 employees Atmospheric, Environment Research Inc.: 1 Atmospheric and Technology Services LLC: 13 Basic Commerce and Industries Inc.: 1 Celciur LLC: 4 Design Intelligence Incorporated LLC: 2 Dow Lohnes PLLC: 3 Enterprise Electronic Corporation / Weather Services International: 4 National Lambda Rail: 1 MSCI / RiskMetrics Inc. / ISS: 134 PBS&J: 10 Stanley Inc.: 14 Vieux and Associates: 2 Weather Decision Technologies Inc. - 68 employees Weathernews Americas Inc. - 65 employees
Published on Mar 30, 2012