Despite incredible people and resources, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of national ratings in an array of key indicators, from educational outcomes to personal incomes. These ratings negatively affect our ability to attract new businesses to the state and provide the quality of life that Oklahomans deserve.
To address these difficult problems, the State Chamber Research Foundation in 2018 launched a strategic plan called OK2030. Th goal was simple, but not easy: to identify the public policies that would catapult Oklahoma from the bottom of the rankings to the top by 2030. The initiative was developed by a statewide coalition of visionary leaders, job creators and others dedicated to moving our state forward.
The result was a road map for making Oklahoma a great place to live, raise a family and do business.
The OK2030 plan addresses four foundations of a great state: business climate and competitiveness; fiscal stability and governance; workforce and talent development; and quality of life. The leaders who developed OK2030 understood that we would never reach our full potential unless we took on the structural problems holding Oklahoma back.
OK2030's focus on root problems calls to mind the old anecdote of a teacher who stood in front of his class with a large jar and a pile of rocks in front of him. After placing the rocks, one at a time, into the jar until no more would fit, the teacher asked whether the jar was full. The class, of course, said it was.
The teacher dumped in a bucket of gravel, allowing the smaller rocks to fill the spaces between the big rocks. He then added to the jar in the same manner, first with sand and then with water.
The students thought they understood the point - you can always fit more into your schedule if you get creative.
But the teacher had something else in mind. He explained the truth the exercise illustrated: If you don't put the big ricks in first, you'll never get them in.
OK2030 is an effort to get the big public policy rocks in the jar first. I encourage you to read our plan at OK2030.org and to help us persuade lawmakers that, though the politics can be hard, this is work worth doing.
Ben Lepak is the executive director of the State Chamber Research Foundation.
Note: This article was first published in The Journal Record on Dec. 4, 2020.