(Oklahoma City) Oklahoma City will host the annual conference of one of the largest state legislative organizations in the country in 2008, according to Oklahoma legislative leaders and city officials. The meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is expected to have an economic impact of at least $1.2 million.
Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor, House Speaker Larry Adair and Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys announced the site selection today, saying the SLC's executive committee made the final decision in favor of Oklahoma City at its annual meeting in Savannah, Georgia earlier this month.
"Needless to say, we think the SLC board made a great choice. Anytime that we get an opportunity to show off Oklahoma and its many attributes to visiting dignitaries, the entire state wins. Not only will we get the short-term economic boost from the business generated by such a major event, but we will also reap long-term benefits from showcasing Oklahoma to an audience of movers and shakers from around the country."
"Senator Gilmer Capps deserves a big pat on the back for his hard work on this. He played a major role in bringing this important event to Oklahoma," said Senator Taylor (D-Claremore).
"The 1995 SLC conference in Tulsa was a great success and we look forward to the opportunity to again extend Oklahoma hospitality to our southern state neighbors," added Speaker Adair (D-Stilwell).
"We've worked diligently to build Oklahoma City into the kind of premier destination site that attracts not just tourists, but major conventions as well. Landing the SLC meeting confirms that Oklahoma City is officially on the map of major event planners around the country. I think the people of Oklahoma City can take pride in the fact that because of their support of the MAPS projects and other initiatives that enhanced the quality of life here, our city is really taking off," said Mayor Humphreys.
Established in 1947, the SLC is composed of state legislators and staff from 16 southern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virigina. The organization serves to promote intergovernmental cooperation and acts as a forum for public policy discussions on issues affecting the southern United States.
In recent months, state lawmakers and officials in Oklahoma City have been working to convince SLC leaders to bring the annual conference to the Sooner State's capital city. Oklahoma State Senator Gilmer Capps, a former chairman of SLC, and Representative Danny Hilliard were the lead legislators in those discussions.
"We were competing against a number of other attractive sites, but we knew that Oklahoma had a lot to offer and were able to convince the SLC board to give us a chance. I know they won't be disappointed," said Senator Capps (D-Snyder).
"The unanimous vote of approval by the SLC executive board is a strong indication that Oklahoma is a unique and hospitable destination place. I appreciate Speaker Adair for allowing me to participate in the selection process on behalf of the Oklahoma House of Representatives," added Rep. Hilliard (D-Sulphur).
The SLC annual conference traditionally draws 1,500 to 2,000 participants to its host cities. For example, approximately 1,700 state legislators, staff members and their families attended this year's meeting in Savannah. Steve Collier, executive director of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates that the conference will have an economic impact of $1.2 million in the city area.
"Oklahoma City, and indeed the entire state, stands to benefit immensely from a conference of this caliber. Not only will we be hosting a group of prominent decision makers, but also this event will bring national media attention to our city and the great strides we have made developing our visitor product," said Collier.
The last time Oklahoma hosted the annual SLC meeting was in 1995 in Tulsa.