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City of Tulsa Planning Incentive Programs to Spur Business Development along Bus Rapid Transit Lines

Matt Trotter

Updated Dec. 7, 11:20 a.m.  

The City of Tulsa’s economic development team will roll out two incentives early next year to encourage business growth along bus rapid transit lines.

One program will reimburse city fees levied on businesses along Aero’s existing Peoria Avenue line and coming Route 66 line. The other will set up a revolving loan fund with the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation to offer low-interest loans to commercial and retail establishments.

"At this point, our goal has really been to think through how can we help small businesses and entrepreneurs establish businesses along those routes and so most of these incentives are geared toward those individuals that own small businesses," said City of Tulsa Chief of Economic Development Kian Kamas.

At a council committee meeting this week, City Economic Incentives Manager Spencer Mitchell was asked why Tulsa is doing the opposite of what many other cities have done: Assess fees on businesses along transit routes to help pay for those services.

"We want to increase ridership, and one of the ways that we are looking to increase ridership, specifically choice ridership on the bus rapid transit lines, is increasing the amount of goods and services available on those lines," Mitchell said.

There will be a total of $1.5 million in low-interest loans available over three years. Those loans will also be available for businesses within the boundaries of city Destination Districts. Currently, there are four: East Tulsa Main Street, Historic Greenwood Main Street, Kendall Whittier Main Street and Route 66 Main Street.

The city has a program that waives related fees in order to encourage property owners along the Peoria Avenue Aero route to rezone to mixed-use designations. It's available through December 2021.

Correction: This story originally stated the city's program to waive rezoning fees had ended.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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