The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 21, 2014

Tax increment district for plant makes sense as an economic development tool

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Next time you’re driving along U.S. 412 and noticing the Koch Nitrogen Plant, contemplate the huge private investment being continued on the outskirts of Enid.

Koch went before the Garfield County Commission Tuesday to get support for its plans to invest $1 billion to upgrade and expand the plant and fertilizer processing facility east of Enid.

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that declares their intent to consider a tax increment district, preparation of a project plan, appointing a review committee and to charge that committee with studying the eligibility and financial impact of the plan on the four taxing entities within the district.

When county commissioners meet again Monday, they will consider entering into an agreement with Koch with respect to the preliminary costs of creating the TIF.

Koch has requested the TIF district to help diminish the cost of a large construction project they have that would expand output of their current facility and reduce its daily potable water usage to about one-fifth its current level.

This TIF makes good sense as an economic development tool.

Koch’s plans increase the capacity of the nitrogen plant by 1 million tons per year.

It also will mean the largest capital expenditure in the history of Garfield County.

Officials are expecting up to 800 new construction jobs and 20 to 30 new permanent employees for the plant.

These are good jobs, and this massive investment helps diversify Enid’s economy.

Koch’s expansion means more available drinking water for the city.

Right now, the plant uses about 6 million gallons of fresh water each day.

With the planned changes, Koch can replace 5 million gallons with used, or gray water, that’s currently being treated and flows into a local creek.

Koch didn’t have to suggest this, but it’s the right thing to do.

This type of behavior explains why City Manager Eric Benson has lauded Koch as “a valued and first-rate corporate citizen.”

We’re glad the gray water switch is happening.

While Koch still is a large consumer of resources, this should improve Enid’s future water situation.