The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 12, 2011

Business building

Major County Economic Development Corp. keeps chasing healthy prospects

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Major County Economic Development Corp. was busy in 2010 and doesn’t seem to be slowing down this year.

JaNae Barnard, with Fairview Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the development corporation, said there currently are a number of projects ongoing. She said they continue to recruit new businesses and assist tenants of the business incubator.

“There are two slots in use in the incubator by the MCEDC that is working to promote events and entertainment,” Barnard said.

In the past year the group assisted current business incubator tenants Gloss Mountain Homes and From the Woods Barbecue Sauce and Pickles by providing access to a team of business experts for objective marketing advice regarding business plans, financing, marketing, accounting and legal issues, she said.

Officials also visited local industries to learn ways to improve commerce and assisted a number of businesses in Major County.

Among those assisted was Power Max, which received help with its business plan. The building occupied by Power Max was built as a joint speculative venture between Major County Economic Development Corp. and the city of Fairview. The building attracted Power Max to the industrial park, and the company subsequently purchased the building.

MCEDC also developed an electronic billboard on U.S. 412 at Orienta. The billboard started displaying ads Jan. 27. There are 24 ad slots available, with 22 slots for sale. All 22 have been sold for the year to Major County businesses, Barnard said.

The group continues to work with prospective dentists for the community. The corporation also worked on wind energy issues and recruited a conference to Fairview Community Center.

MCEDC president Mark Stubsten said the job sometimes is trying to be all things to all people.

“In the rural areas to recruit something is a wide open field. When you’re looking at things you won’t necessarily find big industry,” Stubsten said.

There are numerous prospects, he said, and Major County looks at “anything and everything.”

MCEDC works with all types of prospective businesses, with an ultimate goal of matching their needs and attributes with those of the business. Often competition is statewide.

Some companies want a railroad, Stubsen said, some want to be on an interstate. A frequent request is the city be within so-many miles from a university, he said, adding his group treats every prospect seriously, even if ultimately it doesn’t work out.

“Sometimes you don’t have what those people want,” he said.

The number of prospects vary year to year, but Stubsten said his group talks to about 10 each year. Some businesses wish to relocate, he said, and there are various reasons others look at the region.

It depends, Stubsten said, on what is happening economically in the United States and Oklahoma.

“That’s an elusive rabbit to deal with,” he said.

When a community is away from larger cities where there are more cultural pursuits, it becomes a more difficult sell, but everyone does the best they can, he said.

“They don’t often realize the drive time between Enid or Fairview and the interstate is not impeded by traffic jams. That is their mindset,” he said. “Those are issues everyone deals with.”

MCEDC’s activity in 2010 included recruiting Knowledge Tree LLC and Hardesty Cheese to the incubator.