Over 100 members of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable joined together “online” for the June 17th annual meeting of the organization.
Chairman Brenda Rolls led the program which included a membership and finance review and election of Officers and Directors for the 2020-2021 fiscal year beginning July 1.
A panel of state leaders including Governor Stitt, Lt. Governor Pinnell and Commerce Secretary Kouplen addressed key issues facing the state including a health and safety report, business recovery and expansion assistance and continued efforts to aggressively market Oklahoma to the world. All three leaders praised the Roundtable for ongoing support of their work to retain and grow business and investment.
Economic Development Related Highlights Included:
Expansions/New Locations: There is continued interest from companies looking to Oklahoma as a cost-effective business friendly location. Tulsa remains a finalist for a major auto project and the Commerce Department reports over 100 active project leads. It is important to bring CEO’s and corporate executives here to see what we have to offer. Target regions are states (like New York, Illinois, California) that have negative business environments. Commerce has initiated a focused online effort to market Oklahoma as a location for new and expanded business facilities – including a “virtual tour” project initially promoting 30 certified industrial sites statewide to site consultants and companies. The Governor discussed his veto of legislation which would have repealed the five-year ad valorem exemption for manufacturers – a competitive issue with surrounding states.
Business Recovery – The Governor praised the Oklahoma business community for taking the pandemic very seriously. The state began re-opening business 55 days ago. Oklahoma ranks 4th nationwide in getting PPP funding out to businesses. Several projects have been initiated to support businesses during the pandemic, including $4 million in grants to the Manufacturing Reboot program for retooling and expansion. That program alone has generated another $45 million in corporate investment. Over 90 companies have been chosen for the BounceBack finance program which supports new high impact capital investment. Another major state relief grant program is forthcoming – targeted to smaller and minority owned businesses. The Commerce Department is continuing to host a weekly online communications program with Oklahoma companies and economic developers.
Tourism/Quality of Life: Oklahoma state government’s branding initiative is underway. Tourism remains a top industry sector and is critically important to local communities. Tourism venues are reopening and Oklahomans are encouraged to consider a “stay in Oklahoma” vacation this year – exploring Oklahoma’s diverse ecosystem. Plans are underway to further develop and improve the 35 state parks through a new $48 million bond program. Quality of life matters when recruiting a company to Oklahoma and the state is now more competitive. There is also continued work to build new start-up companies across the state. Marketing efforts are underway to bring former Oklahomans home.
The Roundtable will next meet October 1 in Oklahoma City