The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 18, 2013

Canola plant, Koch Nitrogen projects forecast to increase sales tax collections

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The city of Enid and surrounding area are about to enter a growth period that will increase local sales tax collections for the next two or three years, said Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance.

Starting next year, Kisling said, there will be $1.2 billion in new construction projects that are anticipated to bring in more than 2,000 construction workers who will be here until the projects are completed. Koch Nitrogen will begin a $1 billion enlargement project at its fertilizer plant east of town, and Northstar Agri Industries will begin work on its $200 million canola plant east of the city.

“Enid is already home to one of the largest ammonia plants in the world. ... Koch Nitrogen is expanding to twice its size,” he said.

Part of that construction is a new water treatment plant that will free up about five million gallons of potable water for the community. All of the city of Enid water customers together use about 12 million gallons per day, Kisling said, and Koch uses six million gallons by itself. The new plant will allow Koch to decrease its use of potable water.

The construction workers coming to Enid to work on the projects over the next two years will mean many new purchasers and new infrastructure needs, Kisling said. ERDA is working with some out-of-state companies to set up temporary housing in Enid to house additional workers. He complimented city officials for being proactive and passing ordinances that allow the temporary housing to be built.

“We’re not having to build that ship while we sail it,” he said. “Housing is the big issue. We need permanent housing for long-term permanent jobs that are coming and temporary housing for the out-of-town construction workers. We did a housing study this summer that helped us quantify this need.”

Kisling said the study and its nationwide release has brought in builders and developers from across the nation looking at sites and “running the numbers,” Kisling said.

Koch and Northstar officials have not identified how long their construction projects will take, he said.

“I’m guessing 2014, 2015 and 2016 will be significant sales tax years for Enid with that much construction going on,” Kisling said. “They all have to eat, drink and buy gas. It’s a much more significant impact than the construction of the wind farm, which was a huge increase of sales tax, and it was only 200 workers.”

Kisling said there are lots of reasons to be optimistic. Enid will continue its trend of sales tax growth, which has been going on for the past three years. He said he hopes it will provide evidence to Enid residents that economic growth is not just because of the Mississippi Lime oil play north of town. The area’s growth is a significant investment made by others who are not involved in local oil and gas drilling, he said.

“That’s what gives me confidence this growth can continue long term,” Kisling said. “This is a golden age in Enid and northwest Oklahoma. Let’s make sure this growth continues.”