WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was pleased to welcome Elgin, Oklahoma Mayor Larry Thoma before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure yesterday morning. Senator Inhofe invited Mayor Thoma before the Committee to discuss the importance of the Economic Development Administration in Elgin. As the Chairman of EPW in 2004, Senator Inhofe authored legislation to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration. Earlier this year, Senator Inhofe introduced a bill to reauthorize EDA for another five years.
“I was pleased to welcome Mayor Thoma before the EPW Committee and discuss with him the tremendous success story of the Elgin Industrial Park,” Senator Inhofe said. “Just two weeks ago I joined Mayor Thoma in Elgin for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Elgin facility that would not have been possible without EDA investment. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, I was proud to have authored legislation to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration, making $2,250,000 available for the development of the Industrial Park. Now, four years later, thanks to the work of local leaders like Mayor Thoma, we officially opened the Industrial Park that will support the development and final integration of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, the Non-Line-of-Sight Mortar, and the Paladin Integrated Management program. The Army's next generation cannon, the NLOS-C, is now a reality, and Elgin boasts a one-of-a-kind facility for its integration. The Elgin facility will develop some of the most cutting-edge technology on the battlefield, and I was pleased to have Mayor Thoma before the Committee to share the story of this tremendous achievement.”
Mayor Thoma praised Senator Inhofe for his work on the Elgin facility, saying, “Senator Inhofe has long been a champion for economic development in Oklahoma. I know, and the people of southwest Oklahoma know, that the Elgin facility would not have happened without the leadership of Jim Inhofe. By working together, we were able to make this a true success story.”
Mayor Thoma, in his testimony before the Committee, told the story of the impact of the Elgin facility to his community: “With EDA’s assistance, this property will soon become one of the largest economic development projects in southwest Oklahoma. BAE Systems already occupies a recently constructed building in the park. Plans are being finalized for construction of a much larger facility that the company plans to start leasing in October 2009. The buildings and facilities are expected to cost in excess of $21 million, and BAE Systems plans to invest another $9 million in specialized equipment. Within the first 36 months of operation, the firm plans to employ at least 41 people with an estimated annual payroll of $1.7 million. They will continue to hire incrementally until they reach their production capacity with a total workforce between 150 and 200. These numbers may not raise eyebrows in large metropolitan areas, but for a rural community with 1,210 residents, this is a significant development and represents unprecedented economic growth.”
The Elgin facility is just one great example of the tremendous work done in partnership with EDA in Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe noted in his opening statement the statewide impact of EDA in Oklahoma:
“Taken all together, EDA’s public works and economic adjustment grants awarded in my home state over the past five and a half years have resulted in almost 9,000 jobs being created or saved. With an investment of about $24.6 million, we have leveraged almost 29 million in State and local dollars and more than 433 million in private sector dollars. I would call that a wonderful success story.”
The national picture is also quite impressive. Benjamin Erulkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and EDA Chief Operating Officer, testified before the Committee and reported, “From fiscal year 2004 to date, EDA awarded over $1.29 billion in investments, of which $983 million was for construction investments that are expected to create 392,413 jobs at an average cost of $2,507 per job. On average, for this timeframe, every dollar in taxpayer money is expected to attract $33 in private capital investment.”