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MARCH 2006

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Oklahoma City Flying High

   Among the major projects making Oklahoma City the top corporate project destination in the state in 2005 were a $50- million distribution center for Associated Wholesale Grocers, a $30- million brick plant from Boral, a $17- million pharmaceutical plant for Cytovance Biologics and a computer sales
The new Boeing lease will occupy only 16 percent of the 370-acre (150-hectare) MROTC complex in Oklahoma City, across from the U.S. Air Force's largest logistics operation at Tinker Air Force Base.
and service center for Dell.
   If that's not a diverse enough economic base, how about tossing aerospace into the mix? After all, aviation is as central to the metro's vitality as the metro's locatioon is to the country as a whole.
   In January 2006, Boeing announced it would lease three build- to- suit hangars at the Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Technology Center (MROTC) across from Tinker Air Force Base, home to the Air Force's largest logistics center. A joint venture between Battelle Memorial Institute and Dallas- based Trammell Crow Co., MROTC Development Partners LLC aims to eventually develop 17 hangars and more than 1 million sq. ft. (92,900 sq. m.) of related industrial space and education and training facilities on the 370- acre (150- hectare) site. The Boeing plan is step one.
   A tow- way connected to Tinker and the first hangar are scheduled for completion by November 2006 with the two other hangars to be completed by August 2008. The company will use the space to work on AWACS aircraft, and employment projections from Boeing and the Air Force range as high as 325 new jobs.
   "The MROTC is an important move for Boeing," said George Muellner, vice president and general manager of Boeing Air Force Systems. "By locating to the MROTC and partnering with the Air Logistics Center, the company can speed up delivery of new capabilities and offer a best value solution to the Air Force customer."
   Chip Carter, vice president of Trammell Crow, has been heading up the MROTC project for more than four years, the past two of which have involved lease negotiations with Boeing. But there are others.
   "A number of firms are interested in locating here," he tells Site Selection. He says the complex's location and greenfield status are unique, but its partnering with government will probably not be so unique in the near future.
   "In this post-BRAC world we're going to see a lot more partnering with the government," he says. "We're providing the place to allow those partnerships to happen.
   The MROTC is financed and owned by the Oklahoma Industries Authority (OIA), then master leased to MROTC Development Partners LLC. Carter says the Boeing project will consume only 60 acres (24 hectares). Asked what comprises the remainder, he says, "There are 80 acres [32 hectares] that contain an old dirt-bike track. The remaining portion is just raw undeveloped land."
   The leading micropolitan in Oklahoma in 2005 was Muskogee, where freight company Fanelli Brothers Trucking and industrial fan and ventilation equipment maker Acme Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. both made $2-million facility investments in 2005 that will result in 188 new jobs. But the biggest single employment gain is coming from Southwind Homes, which will employ 250 at a new manufactured home plant located at a site formerly operated by engineered fluid control system maker Schrader-Bridgeport. Like Acme, Southwind benefited from cash granted by the Muskogee Municipal Authority for job creation, as well as hiring help from Workforce Oklahoma.
   Because its total new payroll will surpass a $2.5-million threshold, Acme is eligible to receive rebates of up to 5 percent of that newly created payroll for 10 years through the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program, administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The projects are helping the community recover from layoffs at the turn of the century.


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