OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As lawmakers work for answers on why Oklahoma can’t attract big companies to the state, the State Chamber introduced examples of private-public partnerships for economic development.
Chad Warmington, the President and CEO of the State Chamber, highlighted other states and how they recruit the nation’s and world’s top business talent.
“The traditional model of the economic development arm of the state being run by the state by bureaucrats by commerce is kind of becoming the old way of doing it,” said Warmington.
He showed examples for Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Indiana.
Warmington said Ohio is the “gold standard,” but they operate their economic development through a private entity which he warned might not be best for Oklahoma.
The State Chamber president highlighted Virginia as the best fit.
“It’s got business leaders on the board, it’s got state leaders on the board, it’s got legislative leaders on the board,” said Warmington.
A Senate committee was created for economic development to find out why the state keeps missing out on deals with companies like Panasonic and Volkswagen.
Right now, the Department of Commerce takes the lead on recruiting businesses to the state.
Part of Wednesday’s presentation detailed why private-public partnerships could be a new model.
“You still have legislative and government insight but your nimble and quick and you got business leaders that understand the economies in the states they are working in,” said Warmington.
The presentation was met with a warm reception by lawmakers.
Vice Chair of the committee Sen. Kristen Thompson, R-Edmond, agreed with the idea.
“The private sector is more flexible a lot more quickly than government does, but we have to have that oversight,” said Thompson.
In the past, the legislature has tried to lure companies in with hefty incentive packages.
But Thompson said workforce – with Warmington agreeing to this point – is a huge factor in a company determining where they land.
“You can throw all the money in the world at a business and if the climate is not right if we don’t have the workforce if we don’t have proper infrastructure if we don’t have affordable housing we’re not going to be able to do it,” said Thompson.