An excerpt from the Site Selection Magazine article “Sooner Rather Than Later: Hard work is paying off in Oklahoma”
When civic and business leaders in Oklahoma learned that Macy’s was locating in the state, they felt like throwing a parade of their own. Known for its Thanksgiving Day extravaganza through the streets of New York City, Macy’s is bringing 1,500 jobs to Owasso, just north of Tulsa, building a $170-million, 1.3-million-sq.-ft. (120,774-sq.-m.), direct-to-consumer fulfillment center. It’s Oklahoma’s biggest project of 2014, thus far, in both investment and employment. The Owasso site was chosen over 150 other locations in four states for its proximity to Macy’s customers in central and southern regions of the United States.
The investment is expected to have an annual economic impact of $80 million, and was the result of state and local entities piecing together an incentive package worth close to $21 million, including $500,000 from the Cherokee Nation’s economic development arm, Cherokee Nation Business (CNB).
“I’ll go to my grave believing our incentives tipped the scales in favor of Oklahoma,” says Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We added incentives that none of the other states could even talk about or bring to the table.” The Cherokee Nation will provide infrastructure for the main roads in and out of the site, administer job fairs and other recruitment programs and train the Cherokees hired. CNB also offers unique tax credits for Cherokee employees. “We have federal tax credits to the tune of $4,000 for each individual Cherokee Macy’s hires,” says Baker. “If the employee is married to a Cherokee, the tax credit doubles. At the end of the year, the company receives a bottom line tax credit for $4,000 or $8,000.
“Because the facility is being built in Indian country, the company receives accelerated depreciation on the building and the equipment, federal advantages tribes have that don’t exist in some of the other states. When we brought all those folks to the table to explain the different packages, it was a win, win, win – for the tribe, Macy’s and the rest of Oklahoma.”
In addition to the 1,500 full-time employees, Macy’s will hire 1,000 or more temporary seasonal workers each year to handle higher volume during the holidays. Construction began in April, and the ripple effect of the project is profound.
“The Macy’s project is already having a major economic impact on northeastern Oklahoma, putting electricians, plumbers, cement finishers and metal workers to work,” says Baker. Between 350 and 500 construction jobs are expected as the facility is built. Operations at the location will start in April 2015 with the first orders shipping in summer 2015.
Aviation and aerospace remain an important and dynamic sector in Oklahoma. Over 500 aerospace-related companies are located in the state providing direct and indirect employment to 144,000 citizens. Oklahoma’s aerospace industry accounts for $4.4 billion in annual revenue with exports to 170 countries. Earlier this year, Governor Mary Fallin extended the aerospace engineer employee and employer tax credits until 2018. “When it comes to the growth potential for aerospace in Oklahoma, the sky is truly the limit,” she said. “The aerospace engineer tax credit has helped create hundreds of new, high-paying jobs for skilled Oklahomans.”
Companies routinely cite the state’s competitive cost structure, business-friendly environment, central location and strong aerospace supply chain as factors directing them to locate in Oklahoma. Recent expansions include Ferra Engineering, an Australian company specializing in the custom design, manufacture, assembly and testing of aerospace structures and sub-systems, is expanding in Grove, creating 20 new jobs. Ferra supplies such aerospace companies as Airbus, Boeing, GE Aviation, Thales, Goodrich, Lockheed Martin, Marvin Engineering, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce.