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Oklahoma's missing link: a plan for the future

Oklahoma should form an independent commission to produce long-term plan for diversifying economy.
By Scott Meacham, Columnist Published: January 15, 2013

Oklahomans have a vision for the future, the vision of a diversified innovation economy — from agriculture to aerospace to energy to biotechnology and IT/software — a diversified economy that produces jobs that pay well.

We have the cornerstones of that economy — entrepreneurial ambition, ready sources of risk capital, and private and public sector initiatives that support new company creation.

But we're missing a long-range plan to focus our efforts.

And even if we had such a plan, we lack a mechanism to queue up recommendations for serious action through consideration, discussion and debate among state policymakers.

Typically, Oklahoma's state budget and planning cycles are on a legislative session-to-session basis. That's a one-year planning horizon.

It is nearly impossible to build a vibrant innovation economy by only planning and committing resources on a year-to-year basis.

It isn't that Oklahoma hasn't tried.

From time to time, we've had blue ribbon panels, commissions and studies looking at what we should be doing, but all too often their reports gather dust because we lack the methodology (and sometimes the will) to efficiently integrate those ideas and recommendations into specific policy initiatives and legislative action.

It's time to figure out a better approach.

Shouldn't we embrace a long-term planning process that includes a well-defined, committed way to turn the output of that planning into action?

We could borrow from the way business does long-range planning and form a multidisciplinary state commission, appointed by the executive branch to operate outside the influence of all the interested parties and separate from the constituencies of government.

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i2E's portfolio of high-growth companies report that 80 percent of their revenue is generated from sales outside Oklahoma, bringing revenue into the state and creating jobs and wealth for Oklahomans.


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