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In January, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed all-star guard Russell Westbrook to a five-year, $80 million contract extension. He has been with the NBA franchise for the past three seasons and has racked up honors, including leading the team to a spot in the Western Conference Finals last season.
“We are thrilled to solidify Russell’s future with the Thunder,” says General Manager Sam Presti. “Since we arrived in Oklahoma City, Russell’s work ethic, persistence, character and involvement in our community have helped us establish the standards that we are committed to on a day-to-day basis. He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to his continued contributions on and off the floor.”
It opened in the 1930s and operated as the Kentucky Club. The property has a colorful history that includes bandits, gambling, illegal alcohol and ghosts. Since 1981, it has been the Oklahoma Line and then County Line, a franchise of Austin, Texas-based The County Line. The chain has nine stores in Texas and one in Albuquerque, N.M.
The OKC County Line closed in November 2010. The new owners plan to use the property for a new dining concept.
Three additional brands joined the 83 stores at The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, which opened in August. Naartjie Kids (pronounced “nar chee”) plans to open in March. It began 20 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa, and the United States. It features 11 clothing collections for children.
White House Black Market also plans a March opening. It began as White House in 1985 as a boutique for women featuring clothing and accessories. Black Market opened in 1995, and in 1997, the two combined. The third new store set to open is American Eagle Outfitters.
The Boeing Co. plans to move a projected 800 to 900 jobs from its Boeing Defense, Space and Security operations in Wichita, Kan., by the end of 2013. The move displaces some 2,160 employees. Some will go to Texas and others to Washington.
The company cited defense budget restrictions, and limited opportunities for new work, and competitive cost structure as driving forces to closing its Wichita operations.
right The Outlet Shoppes of Oklahoma City
Mark Bass, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s maintenance, modifications and upgrades division, says over the past five years, programs in Wichita have been winding down, and with little work on the horizon, the company cannot continue to win new business for that facility.
He says any job losses in Wichita would not be implemented until third-quarter 2012.
Boeing’s Oklahoma City operations are based just south of Tinker Air Force Base in two office buildings. In 2010, the company announced it would move 550 jobs from its Long Beach, Calif., operations to Oklahoma City.
Three Oklahoma City companies made the 2012 Fortune “Best Companies to Work For” list. Chesapeake Energy Corp. was the highest-ranked Oklahoma company at No. 18. Devon Energy Corp. ranked No. 28, and American Fidelity Assurance is No. 47.
It was the fifth consecutive year both Chesapeake and Devon made the list. American Fidelity appeared for the ninth time. Chesapeake rose 14 places on the list from last year. Devon also rose from its place at No. 41 in 2011. American Fidelity fell a few slots from its 2011 ranking at No. 39.
Tulsa-based QuikTrip came in at No. 66. Last year, it was ranked No. 34.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration plans to invest $1 million in Midwest City and the Midwest City Utilities Authority to construct infrastructure improvements to help develop Soldier Creek Business and Industrial Park.
Estimates show the project has the potential to create 700 jobs and generate $300 million in private investment.
This EDA grant will provide the vital infrastructure improvements needed to fully develop a “rail-ready” industrial park. It will be designed to attract industry to the region, resulting in the creation of high-skill, high-wage jobs. The city will develop the 44-acre facility, including grading, storm drainage and new water and sewer systems.
STATE FAIR PARK
The 30th annual Oklahoma City Home & Garden Show was held Jan. 20-22. More than 500 exhibitors were spread among five buildings for the event. Based on the continued growth and success of the show, organizers have scheduled a second show March 16 to 18. That event will feature about 200 exhibitors in two buildings. It is the first time Oklahoma City has hosted two shows in one year.
Photos by Shannon Cornman and Mark Hancock, respectively