Wednesday, January 25, 2012
BY WAYNE GREENE, Tulsa World Senior Writer
Oklahoma's economy is growing, and the rest of the nation is starting to pay attention, Gov. Mary Fallin told business leaders Tuesday night.
"Oklahoma is serious about creating the best business climate possible," she said at the State Chamber of Oklahoma's Legislative Kickoff Reception at Southern Hills Country Club.
The event - meant to reinvigorate local business involvement in the State Chamber - drew legislative leaders, business executives and elected officials from around the state.
Fallin said she recently returned from a trip to New York City, where she took the good news about Oklahoma's economy to bond rating agencies that will determine the state's cost of borrowing money.
Since the beginning of last year, the state has seen a net increase of 38,400 jobs, the second-fastest rate of job growth in the nation, Fallin said.
Manufacturing jobs are growing 2 1/2 times faster in Oklahoma than in Texas and five times faster than the nation as a whole, she said. State tax revenues are up, foreclosures are down and Oklahoma's banking environment is stable, Fallin said.
She said she is excited about the pro-job, pro-growth, pro-business agenda set by the Legislature last year and is ready to push that effort forward in 2012.
"It's not exaggeration to say the State Chamber played a big role," Fallin said.
"We need to hear from you about what we can do to help, and we need to hear from you, very frankly, when we hurt you," she said.
T. Hastings Siegfried will take office as the State Chamber's chairman in July. He is vice chairman of Tulsa-based NORDAM Group and chief operating officer for one of the aerospace manufacturer's business units.
Before Tuesday's event, Siegfried described Tulsa as a major industrial and business player in the state and said its business leaders need to be involved in the chamber's efforts to promote a healthy business climate.
Fallin congratulated Siegfried for accepting the chamber's chairmanship, drawing attention to his work as a Tulsa County reserve deputy.
"We appreciate you stepping up into this new leadership position," the governor said. "Now we can say, when Hastings takes over, that we have a new sheriff in town."
In addition to Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, current chamber Chairman Bill Burgess of Lawton and chamber CEO and President Fred Morgan addressed those gathered.
"This is the State Chamber. It's not a parochial chamber," Lamb told the group. "For the state of Oklahoma to be strong, ... Tulsa must be a part of that equation."