By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Norman's economy is defying national trends. At 4.7 percent, its unemployment rate is well below the state and national averages, and in the past year Norman had a net growth of 524 jobs.

Monday, the Hitachi plant, which has operated in Norman since 1986, announced it would double its size and hire additional workers, perhaps as many as 75 new jobs.

"They chose to not just stay here, but to build in Norman. So I think it's a real vote of confidence in Norman and in the state," said Lee Williams, Norman Economic Development Coalition.

Many of the jobs created in the past year are at the new Healthplex hospital. Others are located at Norman's Business Park, where high-tech companies have settled in and more are coming. Later this month another IT company, as yet unnamed, will announce it is locating on OU's Research Campus and bringing in 40 new jobs.

"There's an exciting announcement coming in the pretty near future. Another IT related services firm is going to be relocating here, and actually they'll be locating their operations on the Research Campus at the university," Williams said.

Norman Economic Development Coalition chair, Dr. Lee Williams, said Norman has the essentials for continued economic grown--including a trained work force, good schools, and a moderate cost of living.

To date, some $240 million has been invested in OU's Research Park.

Tune in to NEWS 9 at 6 p.m. for more on Norman's growing economy.