Bixby leaders focus on retail to keep up with population boom

by: Lynn Casey Updated:

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TULSA, Okla —

One of the fastest growing communities in Green Country is having what it calls growing pains. Bixby city leaders say they’re trying to keep the momentum they’ve built, and keep up with it at the same time.

City leaders told us today they welcome all development around there. But they say they’re going to have to start focusing on one kind if they want to city to thrive.

 “There’s plenty of room in Bixby to grow,” says City Manager Doug Enevoldsen.

Bixby’s population has boomed 69 percent since 2000—and has the highest per capita income in the Tulsa metro area. That’s according to the U.S. census. So why does it have one of the lowest number of city employees—including police and firefighters?

 “Retail sales are actually what drive a municipality in terms of funding,” says Enevoldsen.

Retail development in Bixby trails far behind the population boom.  But population density is part of what makes businesses decided to set up shop somewhere. So in many places where you see dirt in Bixby, you’ll soon find housing developments and senior living communities.

 “Our goal is to increase manpower here throughout the city, starting first with public safety,” says Enevoldsen.

But right now while people keep moving into town, its public services are being stretched very thin.

 “Our challenge as a growing community is to try to keep up with the growth that we’re seeing; the increased population growth, and look forward to that day where the retail development catches up with it,” says Enevoldsen.

Monday night Bixby City leaders changed its zoning codes to make it easier to get retailers into prime spots.

 “Where possible current agricultural and residential development, should it be changed to commercial, that it be done on a basis emphasizing retail sales,” says Enevoldsen.

Another way they’re luring in developers is by partnering with them. It’s how the city got builders to settle down on the corner of 121st and Memorial. They agreed to pay for part of the stormwater system. They say that helped them convince even more developers to build.

 “We were able to tell people, ‘Hey there’s a real business opportunity here in Bixby’,” says Enevoldsen.