A soon-to-be-released survey by Cutting Edge Technology states that 80% of state incentive programs spend the majority of their funds on large businesses. But a little town in Oklahoma is bucking the trend by offering land to entrepreneurs and small businesses rather than to industry giants.
Marty Follis, mayor of Grove, Oklahoma, is offering free land to any business that will come to town and stay for five years. The 6,000-person town of Grove is so eager to attract small businesses rather than another giant retailer that it has doubled the size of its industrial park and come up with this enticing – and somewhat startling – offer.
The idea is a throw-back to the land grants that first established the state of Oklahoma in 1889. An account in Harper’s Week from May 1889 describes the mayhem set off by opening Indian Territory to white settlement as one of “the most remarkable things of the present century.”
Those wanting a share of Grove’s 100-acre industrial park are required to submit a business plan to the city stating how much they plan to invest and how many jobs will be created. Follis and city manager Bruce Johnson are taking a big chance but they believe their gamble will pay off.
According to Johnson, “Because rural America is more likely to grow a Fortune 500 company than to recruit one, we are betting on small businesses.”
Though so far only one business has taken up the offer, there’s still time for the city of Grove’s creative incentive program to go down in history as one of the most remarkable things of the 21st century.
Black, Victoria. “Luring Entrepreneurs with Free Land in Oklahoma.” Bloomberg Businessweek. June 21, 2012. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-21/luring-entrepreneurs-with-free-land-in-oklahoma