By JOSH NEWTON
Trustees of the Tahlequah Industrial Authority approved a 25-year commercial lease agreement Wednesday evening for Rural Broadband Services Corp. Inc., which plans to bring new jobs and a fiber optic broadband network to the community.
The lease is contingent upon a pole attachment agreement between RBSC and the Tahlequah Public Works Authority. If the pole attachment agreement is confirmed, RBSC and the TIA will finalize details.
Those details are to include the specific location of the five acres RBSC wants to use in the industrial park. Roy Choates, president and CEO of RBSC, said engineers will take a look at the park and determine where the company would be best suited to build.
RBSC officials have looked at land south of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation building, but said they would like an engineer to take a look before making final plans.
Choates said RBSC will first install a 13-by-36 prefabricated building on the site.
The second phase will cover construction of a 28,000-square-foot, permanent building that would include office space, storage space, and a network operations center.
RBSC would also establish a sales office on South Muskogee Avenue, Choates said.
Trustee David Moore said the lease with RBSC wasn’t about the revenue that could be created, but instead about job creation.
RBSC will be required to make no lease payments its first two years, Moore said.
“This will allow them to put in the infrastructure that will get the company off the ground,” said Moore.
Beginning in the third year of the lease, and continuing through the end of the lease, RBSC can earn “credits” based upon the number of employees who earn 150 percent or more of the federal minimum wage.
If 10 to 14 employees make such a salary, RBSC could earn a third of its lease payment back; from 15-24 employees, the company could earn 66 percent back; and with 25 or more employees, the company would get 100 percent back.
“We felt that was a good trade off for the city of Tahlequah,” said Moore.
Otherwise, RBSC will owe an annual lease of $18,000 in years three through five; $20,400 in years 6-10; $24,000 in years 11-15; $26,400 in years 16-20; and $30,600 in years 21-25.
RBSC’s focus, Choates recently told the Tahlequah City Council, would be to provide high-speed broadband to commercial customers, public safety services, higher education, and skills-training organizations, as well as hospitals and rural schools.
The company would contract with third-party entities that could offer the services to residential customers.
Choates told trustees Wednesday night that the company’s investment would also open up opportunities for students of Northeastern State University and Indian Capital Technology Center, who could be trained through the program and potentially find work with RBSC.