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Time for Oklahoma to Make Love Connection with Economic Development

Oklahoma is in the mood for love, hoping to attract new businesses to the state and lock down lifelong relationships with the businesses already here who have been so good to us.

The Sooner State has a big new relationship goal; it's called economic development. And the competition to win the hearts of top businesses is stiff. Major companies across the nation are always looking to expand, and every state in the nation is looking to win their fancy. And they're all coming dressed in their sharpest duds with flowers in hand. They each have an economic development organization dedicated to growing their economy by recruiting new businesses and retaining existing businesses.

There are two kinds of EDOs: traditional state agencies – usually departments of commerce – and hybrid, public-private EDOs. Each have a lot going for them. Under the traditional model, state agencies take the initiative to secure funding for incentives, managing site development and facilitating meetings with businesses and communities. Oklahoma has the traditional model, using the Department of Commerce to court businesses that check all the boxes. Private EDOs are usually organized nonprofit corporations. Ohio has a dapper EDO, JobsOhio, which does not rely on tax dollars or apportioned state dollars. Instead, the state licensed the right to operate the state’s liquor distribution monopoly to JobsOhio, which receives part of the profits from its management of that system. Utah also has a private EDO, EDCUtah, that is solely committed to enticing businesses.

Oklahoma is catching the eye of major companies, but we're not consistently winning their hand. After some high-profile second place finishes in recent years, Oklahoma legislative leaders are pushing for a makeover.

Oklahoma needs an entity that is fully committed to attracting companies that will help our state achieve unprecedented economic growth. A bill was written in the Senate to establish an entity within the Commerce Department that will be exclusively committed to recruiting and retaining businesses. Let's lead with our hearts and fully commit to making Oklahoma the best state to do business!

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