The Woodward News

January 31, 2014

Incentives available for businesses

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Many local business owners aren't aware of the many tax incentives Oklahoma offers, which are aimed at growing the job market and developing this area economically.

Those were the comments of Martin Roberts of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Roberts is the director of business customer services for the ODOC and was the keynote speaker for the Northwest Oklahoma Alliance luncheon, held Thursday at he Woodward Conference Center.

The NwOA is an alliance between many communities and small cities in this region who share information, key resources and serve each other as a think-tank of ideas to develop the region.

The NwOA luncheon event has been growing over the last few months and includes community leaders, industry leaders and officials from all over Northwest Oklahoma, including Enid, Buffalo, Laverne, Beaver, Guymon, Alva and many other  communities.

To become a member or include your community and find out more, log onto http://nwoka.com/.

Some industry leaders from out of state have also started attending the luncheon that is aimed at creating a network of ideas and support.

That is especially true for small, rural communities, Roberts said.

"You realize and I realize that small, rural areas need to band together," he said. "And obviously you all are doing that."

Roberts covered a bevy of existing and some expanding incentive programs administered through the Commerce Department,  including Cash Payments for New Quality Jobs; Small Employer Quality Job; 21st Century Quality Job and Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit.

Also, according to Roberts, an economic development program, which Oklahoma offers called the "Pooled Finance Incentive" is also available to Woodward businesses that qualify.

It and one other; Quality Jobs, a business incentive program through the state commerce department might best fit the needs of businesses in Woodward, Roberts said.

Through the pooled finance program, the state has set aside $200 million to help businesses who plan to make a significant investment in expansion of their business, which ultimately impacts the state positively.

So for instance, lets say you have an oilfield parts machine shop in Woodward and you intend to invest in a new division of your business.

And let's say you intend to put about $2 to $3 million into the new division and included in that investment will also be new jobs that pay at least the average county wage here. Oh, and also in this expansion,  you plan to offer those employees health coverage.

"In that case, this business would be eligible to apply for the pooled finance program," Roberts said.

So let's say your business is approved for the pooled finance program. Then, what's next?

According to Roberts, the business owner can receive cash from the state of Oklahoma. That cash will be a percentage of your total investment to help finance the expansion.

He said previous awards have been anywhere from 10 to 75 percent of the company's new investment.

In another business incentive program known as Quality Jobs Program, Roberts said a wider selection of business types can qualify for cash payments by adding good quality jobs to their existing Oklahoma based business.

To get qualified, a business has to add new, full-time positions that are located in Oklahoma. They have to pay the new workers the average county wage or $31,297 (whichever is lower).

Finally, within three years of when your business starts with the incentive program, it has to hit a $2.5 million annual payroll, which represents the new jobs, Roberts said.

These are just two of the several incentive programs administered through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

According to Roberts, the state is pushing for continued economic growth both in metro areas and small outlying rural communities, he said.

"It's just nice to be at a state agency that is not particularly regulatory but just helping companies," he said.

For more information about other incentive programs, business owners should log onto http://okcommerce.gov/