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Economic climate in Claremore ‘very exciting.’

Three hotels are going up, and the city’s industrial park is attracting keen interest.

By RHETT MORGAN,  Tulsa World Staff Writer
Story originally published in the Tulsa World

CLAREMORE — The campaign called BringItClaremore.com zeroed in on what kind of development residents want in their city.

The feedback was clear. Residents desire more restaurants (57 percent), retail (28 percent), grocers (8 percent) and entertainment (7 percent), said Brandon Irby, marketing manager of the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority, or CIEDA.

“As we move forward with recruiting business to town, we’re focusing on these areas,” he said.

Irby spoke about the city’s economic climate and the role of CIEDA as guest speaker Thursday at the monthly luncheon of the Claremore Area Chamber of Commerce.

Officials say the municipality is on solid ground.

“It’s very exciting right now,” Jeri Koehler, the city’s executive director of industrial and economic development, said in telephone interview. “We have several big industrial projects underway and a few retail projects as well. So the growth is there and coming.”

Times were, the city would generate 10 site visits a year to Claremore Industrial Park. That frequency has climbed to 10 visits in the past three months.

“We have a great selection of resources in transportation, access to the port (Tulsa Port of Catoosa), highways, workforce,” Koehler said. “And obviously, the university (Rogers State University) in our backyard is very helpful.”

CIEDA is a public trust organization formed in 1948 under state law with the city of Claremore as the beneficiary of the trust. Its mission is to market nationally to boost the economy through new business and jobs.

Irby’s presentation pointed out strides made at the 225-acre industrial park, where 90 acres are available for development. Baker Hughes Inc. recently completed a $45 million expansion, and AXH Air-Coolers has invested $3 million in the past six months, creating 80 jobs, Irby said.

“It’s really very encouraging that we have businesses that are actively growing and expanding and creating jobs,” he said.

Construction on John Carle Boulevard, which will complete a loop around the north part of the industrial park, is slated to be completed by the end of the year, Irby said.

“What that means is that we now have direct access to that rail spur for businesses that may be considering moving into the park,” he said.

Irby noted that three hotels are under construction in the city: Hampton Inn, LaQuinta Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express. Economic development officials hope the facilities will help attract bigger events to the Expo Center and Rogers State, he said.

Good examples of redevelopment, he said, have been the Whataburger, which sits where an auto repair shop used to be, and Snow’s Mattress, formerly a Dollar Store.

Irby also updated the disjointed history of Claremore Plaza. Officials in January 2008 announced plans for the then-labeled Oklahoma Plaza, a $110 million mixed-use project to be developed by a Missouri company on 129 acres. But in June 2010, the property was foreclosed on by Spirit Bank, and Tapp Development acquired a portion of the acreage.

Last year, federal banking authorities ordered Spirit Bank to get out of the development business, and the pact with Tapp was dissolved, leaving the bank with about 110 acres.

Roads in the development have been completed, and a new substation has been built to power the site, Irby said.