Staying competitive by continually adapting

Roy Williams, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce dates back to the land run. For 125 years, the chamber has been the voice of business and the visionary organization in Oklahoma City.

Our number one priority is economic development. We’ve been successful in meeting that goal by attracting quality jobs. Our focus is on increasing jobs that add value by providing a good or service, then exporting that good or service and importing the wealth. These are what we call primary jobs.

Secondary jobs (like restaurants, retail and service providers) live off that wealth. The relationship between those two types of jobs is that if you’re successful in creating primary jobs, secondary jobs come naturally. You can’t recruit for secondary jobs; they just come when you’re successful at recruiting primary jobs.

In addition to attracting primary jobs, we are laser focused on retaining talent by increasing the quality of life in Oklahoma City.

Fifteen years ago, if you were to ask a corporation that was considering relocation, what their number one priority is in selecting a city, their answers would be evenly spread among these three responses:

They want to be where their market is located. For example, a company whose market is in the Pacific Northwest would not relocate to Miami. No amount of bargaining or money will convince them to relocate outside their market. There’s nothing we can do to bring those companies to Oklahoma City.

They want to be where they have access to resources. A lumber company would not do well in Arizona, so they would never relocate to that area. But, we do want to have as many useful resources as possible to draw in corporations. We can’t compete if we don’t have the resources.

They want to be where they can find talent. This is the reason Dell came to Oklahoma City. It’s the reason why major tech corporations are based near universities that excel in engineering and computer science.

Today the rules have changed. Companies are more interested in relocating to find talent. The old paradigm is that the worker will come to you. The new paradigm is corporations must go to the worker.

Therefore, the reasons for relocation are no longer evenly spread. Today, two thirds of corporations relocate to find talent. Only one sixth are relocating for resources and one sixth for market needs.


  1. Tim Cohn on August 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    “Capital – both money and ideas – when freed to travel at the speed of light will go where it is wanted, stay where it is well treated…” Walter Wriston

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