Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quick Action Closing Fund Bill Passes House

Legislation its backers say will help attract business to Oklahoma and create jobs and investment passed the House today.

Governor Fallin made the bill a part of her agenda and today she praised the House action.

House Bill 1953, by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, makes substantial changes to the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund, which was first created in 2006.

The changes include:
Ø changing the name to the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing fund
Ø addressing the project approval process by authorizing the governor to make the final decision on a project, subject to consultation with the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Ø requiring a project to enter into an agreement with The Department of Commerce, who shall administer the Fund, and mandating that the agreement be performance based, providing a “net economic benefit” to the state
Ø a “claw back” provision for failure to meet performance provisions

In recent years, Texas and Arkansas have landed a number of economic development deals at least in part because of their ability to enhance the financial incentive package on the table in the final stages of site selection.

From 2005 to 2010, 14 projects have received closing fund dollars from Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, representing more than 12,000 jobs and over $1.5 billion in investment.

“These are jobs and investment that could have easily come to Oklahoma but for the state’s lack of a closing fund,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “Oklahoma has a lot to offer states looking to relocate, and this legislation will help put our state on economic development radars we would not be on otherwise.”

The bill passed with a vote of 79-17 and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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