PRYOR, Okla. (AP) - MidAmerica Industrial Park has launched a three-pronged, $50 million-plus expansion plan that could make the park’s remaining 4,000 acres developable by the end of the decade.
The effort mixes speculative construction with raw land preparation, said Chief Administrative Officer and Trustee David R. Stewart. The industrial park also will target workforce development by building the $10 million MidAmerica Career Center.
Contractors at the sprawling Pryor complex have just finished 75 percent of the first speculative building raised under Stewart. MidAmerica will leave the 37,500-square-foot light-manufacturing building largely as it is until a customer leases or buys the site.
Groundwork has started for a 45,000-square-foot, crane-ready building, with design work underway for an 84,000-square-foot multitenant warehouse. Director of Economic Development Ted Allison said site work for that building could begin within 30 days.
That gives MidAmerica three speculative buildings in development or coming out of the ground, countering market pressures that keep many Tulsa-area industrial developers hesitant to build without a tenant on the dotted line.
“Our plan is to have three of these available at any one time,” Stewart said. He also said the next three building sites have already been selected.
That encouraged some Tulsa analysts.
“They’re surely going to fill a void,” said CBRE Oklahoma industrial broker Jamie Hill, noting the market’s 4.9-percent vacancy rate. “There isn’t a lot of spec construction going on outside of MidAmerica.”
This $11 million construction program marks just one MidAmerica growth initiative. Stewart said the park also has $14 million of road, sewer, water and other infrastructure installation underway for 1,000 of its remaining undeveloped acres. This dovetails into an estimated $25 million plan to install such infrastructure across MidAmerica’s 3,000 other untouched acres.
“It’s impressive what they’ve done out there,” said Patrick Coates, an office and industrial broker with Coates Commercial Properties. “It’s intriguing, because the way they compete with the private sector, what they’re doing is circumventing some of the headache that everyone else who wants to build in Tulsa has to go through. It’s very impressive.”
This build-out marks a historic change for the 54-year-old, self-sustaining public trust. In past years, MidAmerica did not add roads and utilities until property development began. But the speed of business today requires a faster response, Stewart said.
“You can’t sell a product unless it’s complete,” he said. “Businesses are changing the way they do business, and we’re trying to build a product that fits that model.”
Through Stewart’s first two years as chief administrator, MidAmerica completed a master plan for development of its full resources. He anticipates completing infrastructure installation across the park’s 4,000 undeveloped within five to seven years. The biggest chunk will come in a wastewater treatment plant expansion, The Journal Record (http://bit.ly/1E4J5T8 ) reports.
“It definitely enhances the viability for expansion alternatives for anybody in Green Country,” Hill said. “MidAmerica Industrial Park definitely has an advantage in being able to deliver product in a timely basis with few hiccups. That’s very important to manufacturers looking to make money. They want to see it through as quickly as possible.”
The industrial park’s third growth initiative involves construction of the 100,000-square-foot MidAmerica Career Center, which should start this year for completion in fall 2016.
The center will consolidate existing and growing park operations by the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Northeast Technology Center, but Stewart was more excited by the new career evaluation and enhancement programs it will provide for the 300,000 people living within the park’s five-county employment area.
Stewart said this “MidAmerica Delivers” program, which also will involve Rogers State University, will help workers evaluate their skills and identify positions at existing businesses. It will then offer tailored education programs to prepare workers for those jobs.
“This is the most critical problem facing businesses,” Stewart said. “We think we have the program that solves that. The program takes existing resources and aligns them into a program that is tangible and produces results that companies need.”
While the program could provide alternative careers for disenfranchised workers, Stewart said it will target the 60 percent of high school students who do not plan to advance into college.
“We believe there’s a large market for delivery of customized training and career opportunities to that 60 percent,” he said. “It’s really for that student that’s looking for that path that fits their career.”
The center also helps secure vitally needed workers for MidAmerica tenants. While this should help lure companies to the park, Stewart said the primary effort involves aiding the 80 different companies already operating there.
“Most of our growth has been internal,” he said. “Our companies have been expanding.”
MidAmerica does not anticipate an immediate return from these diverse investments. Stewart estimated it could take a decade or more before much of the shovel-ready land sees development.
“Our goal is to get there first,” he said. “We believe we should build it and they will come.”
Getting the ground ready enhances the park’s existing reputation for ease of regulation. Coates said that getting a construction project through Tulsa-area regulatory cycles can take a year or more. As the government entity overseeing MidAmerica, Allison said the park staff can complete its regulatory process in a day.
Such advantages, coupled with MidAmerica’s abundant water, power and sewage services, may offset Pryor’s more rural location, Coates said.
“Not every company wants to be located out in Pryor, Oklahoma,” he said. “There is demand for it because there is a cheap solution and there is a benefit. They don’t have to jump through some of the restrictions.”
Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com
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