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O'Connor: Shopping Oklahoma City to the world
Retail is an economic driver of communities – from the development and purchase of real estate to job creation and the increase in sales tax revenue.
In the Oklahoma City metro area, restaurants and grocery retailers alone generate nearly $4 billion in sales each year. That revenue translates into jobs, recurring spending and increased sales tax revenue, which keeps our city healthy and thriving. The majority of Oklahoma City’s general fund is dependent on sales tax revenue. It’s how we fund core services such as police, fire, street repair, parks and public transit.
One of the best ways for us to connect face-to-face with developers, retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and entertainment brokers and recruit them to Oklahoma City is the annual International Council of Shopping Centers’ global retail real estate convention in Las Vegas. Known as RECon, it is the world’s largest retail real estate convention.
I just returned from RECon as part of a delegation that included representatives from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the city of Oklahoma City and several local developers. We had the opportunity to share the benefits of locating in our growing economic market and recruit businesses to invest in the city’s retail scene. It is evident that Oklahoma City’s ongoing transformation is attractive to retailers. They have seen how the city supports viable ventures and are familiar with our citizens’ commitment to economic growth through the MAPS projects. We highlighted upcoming developments, such as the new downtown streetcar, convention center and proposed convention center hotel, the Core to Shore development area and the Innovation District.
A common theme at the conference was locating retail as part of a mixed-use development. This could include a grocery store, boutique, restaurant and apartments within the same space. In some ways, the “new” concept of retail harkens back to community square commerce.
Regardless of the specific mix, retail is an important component of building revenues, attracting homeowners and revitalizing neighborhoods. Oklahoma City has an attractive track record, available land and incentives to help foster deals. This puts us in an advantageous position as we compete for the types of retailers we would like to attract.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.