Oklahoma Business Roundtable History & Milestones

The Oklahoma Business Roundtable was formed in 1991 to provide greater support for Oklahoma’s statewide economic development program.

The Roundtable concept was suggested by then Governor David Walters, who felt that an aggressive economic development program would require additional private sector funding support. The Governor reviewed “best practices” efforts by other states and initially suggested a model used by the State of Mississippi.

At its onset, the organization’s mission was to promote and advance the economic development of the State of Oklahoma.

Support was targeted to activities that created new jobs and investment throughout the state – through business start-up, expansion and recruitment. Roundtable funds were made available for enhanced marketing, travel and hosting activities where state appropriated funds were not available or could not be used. Program funds were directed to the economic development work of state leaders, the Department of Commerce and community partners.

The charter formation meeting was held at the Governor’s Mansion on April 4, 1991 – attended by the Governor, several CEO’s and state commerce officials.  Initial organizational bylaws were approved and it was agreed that annual dues be set at $5,000. It was agreed that the Roundtable would meet just twice annually – in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Seven companies became charter members of the 501 c (6) non-profit, non-partisan corporation.  They included Thrifty Car Rental, OG&E, Howard Needles Law Firm, T/SF Corporation, Gerald Gamble Companies, Citizens Bank of Lawton and Liberty Bank.

Oklahoma City businessman and civic leader, Stanton Young, served as the first Chairman.  Donald D. Paulsen was selected as the President. Paulsen was former Manager at Fife Corporation in Oklahoma City and former Oklahoma Commerce Department Director under Governor Henry Bellmon.

In the first few months of operation, 24 companies became charter members.  In addition to its marketing support, the Roundtable provided funding for a national search for the new Commerce Department Director. Greg Main was chosen for the position and he began work in June 1991. 

To date, the Roundtable has provided support for hundreds of projects, including domestic and international marketing, promotion and trade efforts, new business start-up and entrepreneur programs and corporate expansions/new locations. In the past year alone, the Roundtable has supported efforts to create $2.4 billion in investment and over 4500 jobs.

Organization Highlights – The First 25 Years

  • April 1991, the Roundtable was incorporated in Oklahoma City. Donald D. Paulsen was hired as President of the organization and was the initial registered agent at 621 N. Robinson, OKC.  Office space was donated by the Journal Record and furniture was donated by the Daily Oklahoman.
  • January 1992 – The Roundtable had 41 members and a goal was set to reach membership level of 50. The Roundtable supported several trade missions, including Mexico – where major private sector sales were made.  
  • August 1992- The IRS officially designated the Roundtable as a 501 c (6) non-profit organization.
  • Stanton Young served as chairman of the Roundtable for the first two years.  He felt it was important to pass the office of chairman and in 1993 progression of officers began with secretary/treasurer and vice chairman moving up to the positions of vice chair and then chairman.  Each officer would commit to serving for three-years.
  • April 1995 – The OKC bombing destroyed Roundtable offices.  We did not operate for approximately three weeks awaiting new office space.  Governor Frank Keating allowed Roundtable to move into OK Department of Commerce building on N Broadway.  We paid rent to ODOC for space and provided our own telephone lines, supplies, equipment, etc.   Board felt it was important to keep Roundtable funds, expenses, etc. completely separate from State.
  • In 1996, the Roundtable moved with the Department of Commerce from N. Broadway to 900 N. Stiles and continued to pay rent for office space. 
  • In the early 2000’s the Roundtable members hosted an annual Corporate Golf event at Southern Hills CC and Oak Tree GC which featured guest CEO’s from around the country.  The project was very successful and led to corporate expansions, new business contracts and new facility location.
  • In 2005 Chairman Ed Farrell led a strategic planning meeting for executive committee members. It was agreed that the Roundtable remained a viable and needed partner in the state’s comprehensive economic development effort.  
  • February 2009 the Roundtable held a meeting a Presbyterian Health Foundation for all past chairmen to share ideas for establishing a direction for the future of the Roundtable.  Don Paulsen and President Blake Wade also attended this meeting. Wade was instrumental in retaining membership, advancing project support and recruiting new members.
  • In 2012 Carl Edwards became Roundtable President.  He worked to increase membership and build a cash reserve to be used to fund special economic development projects by the Roundtable.
  • In March 2013 the Roundtable moved from ODOC building to 655 Research Parkway, Suite 420.  Office furnishings were donated by Advancia Corp. The Roundtable purchased additional office furnishings and equipment.  Rent is paid to OU Health Science Center.
  • In 2014 under the leadership of Carl Edwards, President, and Rhonda Hooper, Chairman, the Roundtable began awarding mini-grants for economic development purposes. 
  • In April 2016 the Roundtable celebrated 25 years of service to the state.  The group annually supports over 60 projects statewide and assists communities with dozens of new expansions and locations and start-up companies – employing many thousands of Oklahomans. 
  • In 2016, Ann Ackerman was hired as President & CEO. 
  • In 2017, the Roundtable revised its mission to be "Business Leadership Advancing Oklahoma's Economy".
  • in 2020, Mark W. Funke was hired as President & CEO. 




1991 – 2009

Don Paulsen

2009 – 2012  

J. Blake Wade

2012 – 2016

Carl Edwards

2016 – 2020

Ann Ackerman

2020 - Present

Mark W. Funke












Stanton Young

Journey House Travel


Stanton Young 

Journey House Travel


Jim Philion 

Dollar Thrifty Car Rental


Bill Bell

Liberty Bank


Gib Gibson

Citizens Bank of Lawton


Larry Brummett



Dave Lopez



Hans Helmerich

Helmerich & Payne


Jeanette Gamba

Jordan Associates


Joe Cappy

Dollar Thrifty Car Rental


Tom Love

Love’s Country Stores


Stan Lybarger

Bank of Oklahoma


Bill Talley

RAM Energy


Ed Farrell



Bill Burgess

Vortex, Inc.


Ed Martin

Ackerman & McQueen


Steve Hendrickson

The Boeing Co.


Al Dearmon 

Fred Jones Cos.


Tom Maxwell



Mike Anderson

Presbyterian Health Foundation


Don Walker  

Arvest Banks


Bryan Gonterman 



Bill Burgess

Vortex OK


Rhonda Hooper

Jordan Advertising


Tom Clark

Tulsair Beechcraft


Renee Porter

Scissortail Community Development Corp.


Rob Martinovich



Bill Anoatubby

Chickasaw Nation


Brenda Rolls

Frontier Electronic Systems


Steven Hendrickson The Boeing Co.
FY2022 Mita Bates

Ardmore Development Authority