How disappointing was the Norman Transcript Sunday article about what appears to be the New Year’s “vision” of the NEDC, the Norman Economic Development Coalition?
As a long-time owner of a small Norman business and a former member of the city council, I have witnessed and experienced the repercussions of NEDC’s actions firsthand.
Cannibalization of existing businesses, sprawl, broken promises… the list goes on of what I see as the failures of NEDC. What was even more disappointing in Sunday’s insightful article that NEDC’s continued obsession with the well-being of companies as a primary economic development strategy was what was not mentioned as part of their plans.
The first being the failure to recognize the importance of adequate funding for higher education and research by the state of Oklahoma. State dollars for higher education and research have been slashed.
In my opinion, this had a negative effect on Norman’s median household income more than anything that has happened in the past 30 years that has not been called a pandemic.
Now is the time to increase funding for higher education. Nothing benefits Norman’s economic development any longer.
The state cup is currently overflowing. Funding for higher education has a direct impact on the more than 12,000 jobs at the University of Oklahoma, which has a direct impact on Norman’s economy.
Plus, hometown research breeds local entrepreneurship. You don’t have to look any further than the gem of University North Park, IMMY, for example.
And second, the failure to recognize the potential of the South Canadian River, Little River and Thunderbird Lake Corridor as a destination for those interested in the “Live, Work, Play” lifestyle.
It’s hard to find a city in the United States with a major river within its borders less used for recreation, work, and economic development than Norman’s South Canadian River. It is a patch of weeds and it is the southern gate of our city.
The NEDC has experienced a leadership rotation, but apparently no rotation of ideas. For me, it seems that 2022 is the same song, second verse regarding “economic development” in Norman.
Joe Carter DVM