Dear State Chamber Members and Prospective Members:

I’m honored to serve as your new chairman and I look forward to this opportunity to advocate for Oklahoma’s business community, in partnership with all of you, and with the loud and influential megaphone that the State Chamber of Oklahoma has developed over many years of dedication, hard work and commitment to our great state.

Every year we rally together to support important issues that will allow businesses and Oklahomans to prosper, and at the same time we come together to oppose legislation that will harm economic development, put undue burdens on business and put our communities in backward motion when we need to move forward, together.

Let me highlight a few of the policy issues that will continue to be at the forefront of the Chairman’s platform this year:

Economic Development – We need to continue expanding and funding efforts that protect and promote economic development. This includes continued support for initiatives that stimulate small business growth. Small businesses are the pulse of Oklahoma. In every county, in every town and on every Main Street in the state, you will find a small business serving a unique and important need in their community. We need to foster a business climate that allows these small businesses to succeed and prosper.

Workforce Development – As our momentum continues in areas of economic development, we cannot turn our attention away from our workforce needs. Economic vitality and workforce development go hand in hand. We need to educate, arm and train the workforce of today so that these employees will be ready and able for the business needs of tomorrow.

Diversity – Another area I am focused on this year is creating a more diverse representation of Oklahomans to serve on the State Chamber Board of Directors and to engage as members. The State Chamber continues to provide a unified voice for more than 1,500 Oklahoma businesses and we recognize the need for diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to engage with our organization as we continue to build our collective voice for strong, pro-business public policy. I applaud Brad Krieger for initiating the State Chamber’s first subcommittee on diversity, led by Kristin Peck, and I want to throw my support behind this important initiative. I look forward to continued success in this area.

Health Care – Improving health and wellness is not just a catch phrase or series of buzzwords. It’s a critical need for our state. Not only do we need to improve the health of our citizens so they can have a better quality of life, but we need to see health and wellness improvements as a way to make Oklahoma a more attractive place for new businesses to call home. Health improvement is a manner in which our state and businesses can see lower health care costs and it’s a means to an end for Oklahoma to have a more vibrant and stable economy.

Advocacy – Lastly, let me highlight the overarching priority for this year: advocacy. Getting our voices and issues heard, at the right time, among the right audience and with the complete understanding of the issues at hand. Without dedicated engagement from all State Chamber members, none of the other issues can be addressed. We need you and your voice to work together with all our voices to make a collective impact. I am proud of the work the State Chamber does to produce results and positive outcomes for our business community, but it does not happen without the support and dedication from all of you. I urge you to get involved this year. Join a subcommittee. Throw your support for or against a bill by making a phone call, sending an email or sharing your voice at a local chamber of commerce meeting. If we do that, our megaphone will continue to grow in number and volume and I’m certain our voices will be heard.

Thank you for your commitment to the State Chamber of Oklahoma and I look forward to our continued success this year.

Ted Haynes
2016–2017 Chairman of the Board, State Chamber of Oklahoma 
President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma