Time for business to lead the way
In recent years, we have done much to make Oklahoma a business-friendly state.
We passed significant workers’ compensation and lawsuit reform, and we made changes to our education system to emphasize accountability, transparency and results. We put in place economic policies that encourage growth and help attract businesses and jobs to our state. But now that these major improvements have been achieved, our state needs a clear vision for how best to move them from good to great.
We need bold action to put Oklahoma on the map and make sure we can compete in a global economy. For example, we must address our crumbling health care system, an inadequate workforce and many other vexing problems.
Disruptive technology that changes the face of an industry, however, doesn’t often come from the inside. It comes from the outside and those willing to take high risk in the hope of high reward. As many other states continue to drive toward excellence, leaving Oklahoma only falling further behind, what do we have to lose from considering outside perspectives?
This is exactly what happened in Indiana, when businessman Fred Klipsch, who ran the gamut of running a successful assisted living home business to becoming the global leader in audio equipment, worked with many of his peers to drive policy development and political action to defeat status quo defenders. Last week, Klipsch was in town urging the state’s top business leaders to not stay on the sidelines when it comes to shaping Oklahoma’s future.
Klipsch’s talk was well-timed. On the heels of an election that saw the defeat of almost half of the proposed state questions, it is apparent that we as a state are not certain where we want to go next. The Oklahoma private sector is in a unique position to offer vision for the future of our state. Business leaders know the importance of looking at returns on investment, which is vitally important when it comes to state spending. Business leaders must be a part of pressuring system change as a whole with dramatic improvement as an immediate goal.
We must set high expectations for Oklahoma, and the business community must step up ready to engage directly now. And although it may be difficult, we can’t stay disconnected because this work is hard. Our state needs improvement now and the business community is poised to drive the disruptive change our system needs.
Column by Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, printed in The Journal Record on November 11, 2016