The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 1, 2013

Enid, other county seats show increase in retail sales

Staff reports
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Retail sales in Enid grew in the first part of the year, based on March sales tax distributions to cities and towns from Oklahoma Tax Commission.

The current figures represent local tax receipts from spending in late January and early February. Net taxable sales in Enid during that period were more than $4 million higher compared to the same period in 2012.

According to OTC figures, net taxable sales in Enid during the period were up 5.3 percent over sales during the same period in 2012, continuing a strong series of reports for the past two years.

Enid received $2,338,449 from OTC, an increase of $116,813 from last year’s receipts.

Most county seats across northwest Oklahoma also saw hefty increases in net taxable sales and sales tax receipts.

Medford recorded the largest percentage increase in the area. Medford, county seat of Grant County, recorded an increase of 104 percent — $1,391,475 — in net taxable sales for the January-February period compared to a year ago. Woodward saw an increase of 13.9 percent — $3,836,828 — in net taxable sales.

Other net taxable sales increases by percentage and dollar amounts for county seats in northwest Oklahoma were: Alva, 8.2 percent, $764,305; Cherokee, 9.2 percent, $210,615; Fairview, 11.3 percent, $367,550; and Kingfisher, 1.7 percent, $118,066.

Watonga, the Blaine County seat, was the only county see to record a decline. Net taxable sales were down 42.8 percent in Watonga, or $2,016,900 less in sales.

Statewide, OTC returned $122,877,565 in sales tax collections to 507 cities and towns, reflecting an increase of $3,940,329 from what was distributed in March last year.

Local officials said the increase in sales is due to increased business and oil field activity in the region.

Enid City Manager Eric Benson said everyone in the state is talking about Enid. He was quoted last week in an Oklahoma City publication doing a story on Enid’s strong economy.

“Enid has a strong economic engine, and it is working,” he said. “We pledged to make Enid a destination for shopping and a variety of other services, and it is working.”

Benson said there has been growth in a number of industries, in addition to the oil play. The economy has gotten better due to an overall focus on improving the economic status of the city, he said.

“I’m not saying the oil play has no impact, but that it is more than that,” Benson said. “It’s only going to get better.”

Benson said some final things that need to be completed at Convention Hall cannot be done because rooms always are booked. “We’ve had a tremendous response to Convention Hall, and the Event Center will be an impact,” he said.

However, there is a secondary impact on the economy. He said the downtown business area — specifically Napoli’s Italian Restaurant and The Felt Bird, both located near Convention Hall — will be impacted. He said the planned downtown hotel also will see an impact.

“Cities across America wish they had what Enid has going on right now,” Benson said.

Main Street Enid Project Manager Kelly Tompkins said Enid is enjoying the effects of good economic conditions.

“It seems as if we have been buffered from the economic conditions that many states are dealing with. Our area is experiencing a bit of a boom, and since we went through the boom and the bust of the early ’80s, we are enjoying the rewards while being cautious. We are realizing the benefits of shopping local and supporting our independently owned businesses, keeping more sales tax dollars here,” she said.

Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance, said Enid is experiencing an unprecedented amount of wealth.

“One thing that is interesting is the fact that the numbers continue to go up. It is amazing to me to see it. Even though oil and gas is the biggest part, GEFCO, Central Machine and Tool, and AdvancePierre (Foods) continue to grow and add people to their payroll, and that adds to the Enid sales tax growth,” he said.

Kisling is “bullish” that the area is seeing a new trend, rather than a fad. However, if drilling slows down, there is a good chance the current economic boom could last 20 years. He said all indications are it will continue to grow.

“Our role is to find what is next. We’ve got the canola plant moving here, but are there other things as well to keep the economy moving?” Kisling said.