Economic development is my passion, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to make it my career as well. Part of my fascination with economic development is the transformative effect it has on communities — the way it energizes places, people and economies.
Our state must continue to engage in forward-thinking economic development initiatives. Such efforts create jobs, grow incomes and strengthen our tax base. However, we also need complementary, wraparound strategies for elevating our state.
Economic development is imperative to building a strong Oklahoma. But without a game plan for improving our state’s workforce, health care, education systems and fiscal stability, our state will never reach its full potential.
That’s why when the State Chamber Research Foundation announced its plan to launch the OK2030 strategic vision plan, the Enid Regional Development Alliance was immediately on board. For too long, our state has lacked a comprehensive plan for improving across a range of areas crucial to Oklahoma’s prosperity, growth and well-being.
I had the privilege of facilitating three OK2030 regional forums, including the Enid forum. These forums were a vital part of the State Chamber’s approach to developing the OK2030 plan, an approach that included gathering input online and in-person from thousands of Oklahomans.
This strategic vision plan contains bold policy recommendations for advancing Oklahoma’s future. The State Chamber will work with state leaders to implement these reforms over the coming months and years to bring about real, sustainable change. While all the recommendations can be found in the plan and at OK2030.org, I wanted to highlight one here that I think will make a substantive impact on Enid, its businesses and, most importantly, its citizens.
In speaking with business owners, especially in western Oklahoma, I have found there is a lack of skilled workers for specific careers. Our society, along with our education system, is rapidly evolving. As business owners, we must keep the education to workforce pipeline open. This isn’t a problem specific to western Oklahoma — it is something I heard all over the state. One of the policy recommendations in the OK2030 plan is to “create a consolidated workforce development program for Oklahoma businesses.”
Access to a highly qualified workforce is crucial to employers. In Oklahoma, however, business and education tend to operate in silos, which can prevent the communication and coordination necessary for success. Business leaders need a simplified connection with workforce development and training efforts to ensure we can fill our state’s current and future workforce needs. This collaboration will be vital for our state as we go into the next decade.
Oklahoma is a wonderful place to live and that is part of the reason I want to ensure its success. I want my children to stay here and raise their families—I don’t want to have to fly to Chicago or Houston to spoil grandkids one day, and I don’t believe I am alone in this desire. I hope by the year 2030 we regain the sense of exceptionalism Oklahoma once had. We can do it — all while not losing our strong moral foundation and the ingenuity that makes our state special.
Published by: Enid News & Eagle
Written by: Brent Kisling