, Muskogee, OK

December 21, 2013

Jobs plan could pay big for city

— Muskogee needs more jobs that pay well.

A two-pronged program developed by the port authority’s economic development arm will encourage the creation of such jobs.

The jobs program would provide up to $500,000 for projects to create at least 15 new jobs within three years. The City of Muskogee Foundation authorized a grant of up to $2 million to support this and a second incentive program to provide incentives for new or expanding businesses.

The jobs would have to pay wages of at least 110 percent of the county average. The employers would also be required to provide health benefits.

These are great benchmarks. Fifteen jobs may not sound like a lot, but workers in these jobs will plow funds back into the local economy and into public coffers. The 15 salaries could ripple through our economy to support more jobs.

The plan also includes provisions that would help to minimize risks, requiring pay for performance and including clawback provisions that would require companies to repay any awards if they fail to achieve established criteria.

The incentive programs could also expand over time.

Jay Updike, chairman of the foundation’s economic development committee, said the program will be administered on an annual basis.

Unused funds could be forfeited or carried forward upon the request of port officials, but additional funding may be considered.

This program has great potential for Muskogee.