Enid is gaining momentum when it comes to attracting new retailers and restaurants to the city.
Rickey Hayes, retail consultant for Enid, said there has been “plenty of activity” when it comes to bringing new businesses to Enid.
“There are probably half a dozen restaurants looking for sites (in Enid) right now,” Hayes said.
Whether or not those restaurants and businesses do come to Enid is yet to be seen. There are plenty of factors working in Enid’s favor, however, that could support and sustain business growth.
One of those factors is retail sales. According to a retail sales report from Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, Enid had gross retail sales of $60,595,698 in August, which was up 8.34 percent from 2009. The gross retail sales for August 2009 were $55,930,838.
August marks the fourth straight month gross retail sales have increased from the same month last year.
“It’s good that we have bottomed out for the year in early 2010 and are on the rise,” said Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jon Blankenship.
August also was the first time since the beginning of the year that year-to-date gross retail sales have been higher than last year.
Another thing that factors into potential business growth and development in Enid is the unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate for August in Enid came in at 5.0 percent, which was up from 4.8 percent in July.
The good news is there is a continuous influx of willing workers into Enid.
Last week, Blankenship and Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling announced in July Garfield County ranked 27th nationally among rural counties for job growth in the last three years.
The number of people employed in the county in July also was the second-highest number in a decade.
So, there are a couple of factors in Garfield County and Enid that could positively influence businesses to come to Enid.
There is one major factor, however, that could encourage or discourage businesses from opening their doors in town. That major factor is the U.S. Census 2010 data.
“(Prospective new businesses) work off of census data,” Hayes said. “So the demographic information is dependent on the census data provided every 10 years.”
Businesses will examine demographics and compare them to their current business models and from there will determine whether or not they can be successful in a market.
According to Blankenship and Kisling, there is one factor that would negatively impact economic growth in Enid, as well as the entire state.
That is State Question 744, which seeks to boost spending on education.
Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations and individuals in Enid have come out against the state question. SQ 744 is on the November ballot and would require Oklahoma to meet the regional average of perstudent spending in surrounding states within three years. The proposal does not have a funding mechanism for the increased spending.
Blankenship said SQ 744 would have an $850 million impact on Oklahoma in the first year alone. And that’s not a good thing, he said. Opponents of SQ 744 have said it would force the state to make budget cuts or raise taxes.
“Because of the mandate that would be required by passage of SQ 744, it would also, in addition to funding cuts, we would be looking at a loss of many state incentives that have proven to attract jobs in Oklahoma,” Blankenship said. “It will be a jobs killer in the state of Oklahoma.”
Kisling said the passage of SQ 744 would be “devastating.”
“I can’t see how (its passage) would be a good economic development move,” he said.