At the beginning of every calendar year, i2E distributes an Economic Impact and Client Satisfaction Survey to our existing clients.
We're serious about measuring the impact of Oklahoma's investment in our state's innovation economy, and so are the entrepreneurs that we work with.
This year, nearly 100 young firms responded to our survey — Oklahoma companies at various stages of invention and growth, from concept to break-even. In addition, we engaged the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to perform an independent economic impact analysis on all of the companies we have assisted.
Taken together, the reported information is amazing.
The Commerce Department found that 184 companies assisted by i2E had an economic impact in 2012 of $228 million, created or maintained 2,427 jobs, and produced $91.7 million in real disposable income for Oklahoma's economy.
These figures should be music to the ears of every Oklahoman. And the second verse is better than the first. The young companies are growing and creating even more high-paying jobs.
The average annual wage for these jobs of $73,000 is 90 percent higher than the 2012 average Oklahoma wage — and the number of positions grew 30 percent year over year. So these companies are not only creating jobs much faster than the average company but the jobs they are creating pay 90 percent more than the average company pays.
Clients (both active and past) cited $112 million in 2012 revenues, with more than 80 percent coming from sales outside of Oklahoma.
Our state's young companies are doing even more heavy lifting. Survey respondents introduced 122 new products or services into the market. They received 208 patents, and applied for 183 more.
The failure rate for small business startups nationwide is just over 50 percent in the first four years. More than two-thirds of the companies funded by i2E are still in operation past the four-year mark. More than 90 percent of these clients come from nontraditional industries — primarily life sciences and information technology.
This is what occurs when a state commits to putting taxpayer dollars toward building an innovation economy. We gain high-paying jobs, revenue from other states, and economic diversification.
If you ever question the value of Oklahoma's investment of public dollars in startup technology-based businesses, ask an entrepreneur from one of these young firms. They'll tell you, as they have us, that access to capital plus our diversified advisory service is the difference maker on their business growth and development.
Oklahoma is on the right path and needs to stay the course.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
The average reported revenue of i2E clients in years 0-2 is $139,367. Businesses more than five years old report average revenues of $2.6 million.