We have survived the “fiscal cliff” and begun a new year. The question now is where we are headed. I will leave to others the problems in Washington, D.C. I want to focus, instead, on Oklahoma and how we can build a prosperous economic future for our state.
The key ingredient for the success of any economy is access to risk capital.
It used to be that too many of our ideas for new ventures would die on the drawing board or become ventures in other states that had greater investment capital. The common complaint that we would hear from entrepreneurs and financial institutions was that Oklahoma had extremely limited early stage venture capital.
This situation has changed dramatically over the last several years with the introduction of a comprehensive range of investment funds for a wider range of investment deals than we have ever been able to fund. Yet I am constantly amazed how few people are aware of these resources.
As a person who has been involved in finance most of my career, I can say with certainty that the opportunity for Oklahoma companies to secure risk and growth capital has never been greater.
One new resource is Accelerate Oklahoma! This U.S. Treasury funded initiative is managed by i2E and offers a continuum of capital and co-investment funds for growing companies at all stages.
The money is here and available for investment-ready opportunities — from emerging businesses to well-established companies that need capital to expand.
Our challenge for 2013 is to increase the deal flow that will put those funds to work creating jobs and wealth for Oklahoma.
Personally, 2013 also marks a new beginning for me as I assume my leadership role at i2E. I'm excited about this opportunity to help grow our state's economy.
As a former banker and Oklahoma state treasurer, I've seen firsthand the impact that innovative businesses can have on our state.
Those results begin with the capital to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
We now have that capital.
For entrepreneurs who are wanting to start a business, for businesses that are wanting to expand into new products or markets, and for financial institutions that are looking for assistance in helping their customers raise investment capital, people need to know that there are funds available — right here in Oklahoma.
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:
In FY 2012, the average annual wage of an i2E portfolio company is $70,643, almost 90 percent higher than the Oklahoma average wage of $37,246.