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Bob Funk's Take: Let's Help Oklahoma Shine

Growing and sustaining our state’s economy means getting serious about competing on a national and international level. With a new year comes new opportunities for local leaders to position Oklahoma as a potential home for expanding start-ups and re-locating businesses. Effectively attracting new, expanding and re-locating companies and increasing the amount of investment into our region starts with a strategic plan and a "good first impression" strategy to attract and engage business leaders and visitors.

Oklahoma has pro and semi-pro sports in basketball, baseball and soccer and a brand-new sleek streetcar system. Bricktown, Midtown, the Plaza District, as well as the developing west side of OKC offer enticing and robust business, downtown living and entertainment opportunities. We have suburbia with low cost living, turnpike transit and easy access to some of Oklahoma’s best parks, lakes and area attractions.

100 miles to the northeast is Tulsa: a beautiful, green and vibrant city built upon the vision of early oil pioneers. New investments like the Gathering Space place this grand city on equal footing with many similarly sized cities including Kansas City, Long Beach, Atlanta, Colorado Springs, Virginia Beach, Raleigh, Oakland, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Arlington.

And let's not forget the proud American values, friendly people, boutique retail, college and high school athletics and low cost of living offered in some of our state’s smaller but dynamic communities like Durant, Ardmore, Enid, Norman, Owasso and Bixby, Bartlesville, Jenks, Stillwater and Edmond.

As we work toward a brighter future for Oklahoma, let’s consider 12 prospective tactics in successfully "selling" our great state

  1. Identify which industries are already thriving in Oklahoma and which ancillary products and services are poised to profitably cross-pollinate

  2. Recruit target companies which build on Oklahoma’s strengths, thus enhancing the value chain for our state’s industry clusters

  3. Consider privatizing the Department of Commerce tasking it with new goals, metrics and independence from the state bureaucracy

  4. Mimic how other states Incentivized business executives to locate in their state. For example, Alabama beat North and South Carolina by successfully offering Mercedes-Benz a package valued at more than $300 million. In addition to bringing 1,500 jobs to the state, Mercedez committed a $1.3 billion investment.

  5. Study the idea of offering favorable tax credits to bolster businesses. There are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate income tax, the individual income tax or the sales tax. Wyoming, Nevada and South Dakota have no corporate or individual income tax (though Nevada imposes gross receipts taxes); Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax; Florida has no individual income tax; and New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon have no sales tax.

  6. Benchmark national best-in-class marketing strategies and work with the State Chamber as City-based Chambers of Commerce, Mayors, City Managers, Civic Clubs and Community Leaders.

  7. Leveraging current trends and market analysis, gain insights into which decision factors are location-worthy priorities for emerging and re-locating companies.

  8. Maximize recruitment opportunities by aggressively marketing to CEOs, business development strategists, spokespersons and industry decision makers

  9. Use some of Oklahoma’s top advertising agencies to enhance, extend and amplify Oklahoma’s presence on a global level.

  10. With regard to OKC, use new parks, hotels, venues and transportation options paid for by MAPS 3 to attract and host business events and conferences targeting groups that align with key industries and economic strategies

  11. Celebrate successes!

Let’s work together to adopt a comprehensive plan, implement strategic tactics and celebrate successes that help our state and citizens thrive.

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