A study of Oklahoma's economy to be unveiled Wednesday produced praise for decisions by state business and political leaders, and recognition of the role played by the state's robust energy and aerospace sectors.
The Oklahoma profile, produced for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, notes the state's relative strength in bouncing back from the recession with one the nation's lowest unemployment rates, a stable housing market and growth in jobs and population in its major cities.
That vigor, buoyed by strong oil and agriculture prices, has boosted Oklahoma's tax revenues, the report said.
The U.S. Chamber, along with the National Chamber Foundation and the State Chamber of Oklahoma, will release the study during a forum Wednesday to discuss what business leaders and policymakers have done right, and “what remains to be done,” said Margaret Spellings, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber's National Chamber Foundation.
“I think what we're trying to facilitate here with this round-table of business is to do a little stop, look and listen about what's the next phase, what do businesses want and need, what's working and what isn't?” said Spellings, who served as education secretary under President George W. Bush from 2005-2009.
Gov. Mary Fallin also is scheduled to speak at the event, which includes a round-table featuring key state lawmakers from both parties and a separate discussion with more than a dozen state business leaders.
Oklahoma performed well in a variety of rankings contained in the “Enterprising States” study, prepared by Praxis Strategy Group. The state was among the top 10 in rankings of cost of living; gross state product growth; productivity growth; per capita income growth; higher education efficiency and college affordability.
Oklahoma also was in the top 15 in long-term job growth; state and local tax burden and export growth.
The study lauded Fallin for creating a Task Force on Economic Development and Job Creation, launching an online survey of business leaders and her role in the creation of a quick action closing fund to provide funding to attract and retain “high-impact” business.
“There's definitely a receptiveness to businesses and to job creators in your state,” Spellings said. “That's not a partisan issue; that's a reality issue.”
Spellings said the event, which has been staged in states led by Republican and Democratic governors, is not designed to be political.
“We want to emphasize the front-line, very practical decision-making that governors are dealing with that often is in contrast to what's happening in Washington — the fact that hard problems can be identified and tackled, that we can move the needle,” she said. “We hope and wish and pray that we see more of that thing at the federal level as well.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the nation's largest lobbying groups, spending more than $132 million last year on lobbying efforts. That's more than double the amount spent by any other single lobbying group, according to The Center for Responsive Politics' website, opensecrets.org.
If you go
Wednesday's business leader round-table with Gov. Mary Fallin will be from 9 to11:30 a.m. at the Oklahoma City Marriott, 3233 Northwest Expressway. Among the notables scheduled to participate are Fallin; Fred Morgan, president of the State Chamber of Oklahoma; Bill Burgess, chairman of the State Chamber; William G. Little, chairman of the National Chamber Foundation; and Margaret Spellings, executive vice president of the National Chamber Foundation.