State leaders have plenty to brag about on Oklahoma's economic development front, according to a new report by the State Senate staff. The study was compiled at the request of Senator Ted Fisher, chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee and author of the Quality Jobs Act.
"Too often it seems like people ignore the many good things that are happening in Oklahoma and dwell on the negative. I just think that if we did a better job of promoting the attributes of our state, we'd have even better success on the economic development trail," said Senator Fisher.
"Badmouthing our state can't create any new jobs, but accentuating the positive can."
Some of the highlights of the report include:
Kiplinger's, the nationally respected business publication, has rated Oklahoma as having one of the best business climates in the country. Its most recent issue remarked "Oklahoma is still strong boosted by strong telecom firms... ";
- Regional Financial Associates, a New York-based economic research firm, ranked Oklahoma 5th best in the country for its overall cost of doing business. According to RFA, Oklahoma was 6th lowest in labor costs, 11th lowest in taxes and 7th lowest in energy costs;
- Financial World magazine ranked Oklahoma as having the 2nd best overall business cost structure in the country. Other financial publications and organizations such as Mastercard International, Site Selection Magazine and Whirlpool have also lauded Oklahoma for its low business costs;
- Oklahoma's statewide unemployment rate (3.3%) is much lower than the national average (4.1%), making it one of the lowest in the country and region, lower for example than Texas (4.6%);
- In 1999, during one of the greatest economic expansions in U.S. history, Oklahoma's job growth exceeded the national average by 15 percent;
- In 1999, Oklahoma had the 6th highest manufacturing growth rate, double the national rate;
- Since its creation in 1993, the nationally renowned Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act has been credited with created more than 65,000 new jobs;
- As more Oklahomans have gone back to work, state welfare rolls have been cut by 36 percent since 1993, falling from 136,000 to 87,000. The decline is the 5th largest in the country;
- Education Week magazine recently ranked Oklahoma 3rd best in teacher quality;
- Oklahoma's average ACT score (20.5) is higher than Texas (20.3).
"If you look at the facts, they debunk the myth that Oklahoma is some kind of economic backwater. The experts have recognized Oklahoma for having one of the best business climates in the country. That's something we should be shouting from the rooftops. We should be promoting the reality, not the myth," said Senator Fisher.
Even with all of the positive economic news and national accolades, Oklahoma still has many challenges to face, according to Senator Fisher.
"We've done a great job of pulling our state out of the oil bust, diversifying our economy and building a strong business climate, but we still have work to do. Education is the key to the jobs of the future and there are still some challenges there, especially in the area of adequate funding," said Senator Fisher.
"If we concentrate our resources on those challenge areas and work at promoting the many positive aspects of our state, Oklahoma's economic success will continue."
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605