, Muskogee, OK

November 30, 2013

City right to be flexible to lure business

— Flexibility is key in a lot of areas in life.

It’s no different in the business world.

An economic development consultant urged city and county officials to allow for flexibility when it comes to economic development on the West Shawnee Bypass corridor.

Rickey Hayes of Retail Attractions said a proposed plan being assembled by urban renewal commissioners is something that should lure new businesses to town. Hayes is under contract with the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce to help spur retail development.

Hayes said despite Muskogee’s strengths, we don’t show as well as other cities, citing a “hodgepodge” of development.

Hayes also said said representatives of a large retailer “circled the city” a few months ago, but selling Muskogee “was tough sledding.”

He’s not telling us anything we don’t know.

But we think that will change rapidly.

With city and county officials working together to secure development of the West Shawnee Bypass, and citizens and city and county officials working together on the Action in Muskogee initiative’s signature projects, Muskogee’s future is bright.

Hayes said there are no standards when it comes to retail development; every incentive package will be hammered out on a “deal-by-deal basis.”

We agree with that premise, but would like to add they be hammered out with transparency.

Transparency in this process lets the citizens know what’s going on. Transparency may stop a citizen from throwing trash out of his car if he or she knows a big-chain retailer opted against Muskogee in the past because it is too “junky.”

Mayor Bob Coburn said after his election last year that Muskogee is “ripe” for opportunities. And he’s right.

We are ripe for the picking. But it is up to all of us to ensure we get picked as opposed to rotting on the branch.

And we’ve got to be flexible in the process.