Thursday, June 30, 2011
WASHINGTON — Governor Mary Fallin lent her presence as the state's chief executive officer in a big way to the OKBio Association's efforts to promote Oklahoma at the 2011 BIO International Convention under way here through Thursday.
Gov. Mary Fallin helps sell Oklahoma at international BIO convention Fallin was a featured guest Tuesday night at an OKBio reception for invited guests at a Washington restaurant, then joined the group Wednesday morning at the state's exhibition booth.
She brought an enthusiastic message about the positive impact that life sciences has had on the state's economy. Biosciences has a $6.7 billion impact on the Oklahoma economy, and supports almost 51,000 jobs and 500 companies in the state, she told about 150 people assembled at Tuesday night's reception.
“That's why we are all here today, to support the industry, to represent it, to sell Oklahoma, to bring about new investment, to bring about jobs, jobs, jobs in our great state,” Fallin said. “And (we're here) to let other people, not only here at this conference, but let the nation know and, frankly, to let the international community know further how committed Oklahoma is to the bioscience industry.”
Those were not empty words. After her brief remarks, she stayed for more than an hour, meeting and talking with everyone who introduced themselves to her.
And on Wednesday she toured the BIO exhibition hall, gave interviews to national and international reporters and then returned to the hall to support Oklahoma's efforts at the show.
First stop on Fallin's BIO expo tour was the Oklahoma exhibition space, where she was guided by Josh O'Brien, director of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, a collaborative initiative between i2E Inc. and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The Oklahoma Bioscience Association, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and Oklahoma Department of Commerce are also representing the industry at the exhibition booth.
O'Brien demonstrated touch screen displays, mobile scanners that allow the Oklahoma delegates to gather information from visitors and showcased space within the OKBio booth that lent itself to impromptu meetings.
“We found that when we told people that governor was coming to the reception last night, a lot more were interested,” O'Brien said. “We heard a lot of positive feedback at the reception with her energy and her support of the industry.
“I think that can only help when our state's chief executive not only makes an appearance but really puts a lot of time and effort into it.”
The governor even plunged into the role of OKBio host for a few moments as she talked up Oklahoma to a visitor who wandered by while she was there.
Fallin's BIO exhibition hall tour continued with a stop at the booth occupied by Oklahoma City-based Cytovance Biologics.
CEO Darren Head and his team assured her the conference was already a success for Cytovance. The company had conducted 20 meetings with potential customers by Wednesday morning and signed one contract to provide large molecule manufacturing services at their Presbyterian Health Foundation location for use in a client's drug development program.
“We have customers right now, one from China and one from Taiwan, who are actually building molecules in Oklahoma City,” Head told her. “When you think about it, that's pretty amazing.”
Fallin also visited exhibition space occupied by Israel, which has deep business connections with Oklahoma. In the BIO Conference Governor's Lounge, where she conducted interviews with reporters from international publications, the most frequent question for her was, “Why is Oklahoma and its governor at the BIO show?”
“I told them that we are here telling the story, that Oklahoma is poised for growth,” Fallin said. “We recognize that bioscience is a key economic force in our state, that we are poised for great growth and prosperity, and that Oklahoma is very committed to supporting bio science research and development and that we are gaining both national and international stature.”
By: Jim Stafford, The Oklahoman