Oklahoma Inc.: Public companies pay big local benefits

Firms provide jobs, resources to Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: November 3, 2013

With the prospect of General Electric joining the Oklahoma City skyline with the construction of a new research center, the range of public companies planting their flags locally has spread far beyond hometown favorites like Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy to global players including Boeing and even Rolls-Royce.

Without such public companies, the skyline would certainly lack the new 50-story Devon Energy Center, a renovated Braniff Building and SandRidge Building, or the bustling Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River. Their generosity is felt throughout the community.

But amid the growing presence of diverse publicly-held companies, Oklahoma City in 2013 also saw the downside of the market as investor-driven challenges ousted CEOs at both Chesapeake and SandRidge Energy, and led to layoffs at Chesapeake.

Long-term benefits

Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, advises residents to keep perspective of the long-term benefits of public companies investing in the community.

“What people tend to forget is there was a time when we didn't have either one (Chesapeake or SandRidge),” Williams said. “Chesapeake came out of nowhere to employing 4,000. SandRidge didn't even exist and then went to buying the Kerr-McGee campus and employing hundreds.”

Despite turmoil that included CEOs Aubrey McClendon leaving Chesapeake and Tom Ward leaving SandRidge, Williams notes both companies still employ sizable workforces and are still significant contributors to community events and nonprofits.

Mayor Mick Cornett has seen an influx of hundreds of jobs brought in by public companies including the relocated Continental Resources headquarters, Boeing relocating its engineering and training operations from Long Beach, Calif., and Wichita, Kan., and the pending site location announcement of a General Electric Global Research Center.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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