Capital is scarce in Oklahoma as failures of banks
and savings and loans have limited potential financing for economic
Venture capital is what Oklahoma needs to enhance its economic
development, said Ed Bee, director of the economic development
division of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
The ability to finance new projects is limited because of
problems in the past. Banks cannot do today what they could do five
or six years ago, he said. The state needs a more stable financial
situation that would allow banks to write more commercial and
Oklahoma must have strong lending institutions to meet the
financing needs of business, said U.S. Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla.
"This session of Congress, we'll be working on the plan to save
the savings and loan industry. A top priority of mine will be to
protect depositors, but also to ensure that rural lending
institutions will be given a chance to succeed."
Capital is scarce in Oklahoma, Synar said. The recent bank and
savings and loan failures have frightened everyone.
"We must restore people's trust in banking institutions so these
lenders will be there for future economic development," he said.
The highest priority for 1989 will be to gear up the existing
industry program to help them increase their profitability and
attract supplier companies for businesses like AT&T and General
Motors, said Bee.
"I plan to focus our resources on areas that we can achieve some
success," Bee said. "We will target our market in the types of
companies we try to attract to create more jobs in the local
There is also a great opportunity to commercialize some research
and development and start some companies here, creating new jobs,
Bee said. There is considerable research and development in the
universities and the private sector.
"Never before has there been such an emphasis on economic
development in our state," said Synar. "We've come up with plans, put
together tax incentives and organized industry recruitment trips.
"When we invest in people - ensure good education, health care,
a clean environment - economic development will follow. We have to
work at making Oklahoma the kind of place that new business and
industry feel has a promising future," Synar said.
Bee wants to see the chamber more actively involved in
international trade and inverse investment, which are going to be
growth areas for the United States in the next five to 10 years.
He is in the research phase of putting together an action plan.
"I am a firm believer in planning," he said. "If you don't have
a plan, you just don't go anywhere."
The seven target areas for the chamber's economic development
- Improve the rate of new business formation.
- Develop Oklahoma City as a distribution center.
- Attract service industries like back office operations.
- Establish Oklahoma City as a center for world trade and
- Expand existing industry.
- Establish a national business image for Oklahoma City.
- Attract targeted manufacturing.
Oklahoma City is well positioned to attract service industries
like the Hertz operating center and Howard Johnson, Bee said, and
this is the fastest growth sector of the U.S. economy. These
operations would not be corporate headquarters, but would involve a
lot of people to provide a service.
Bee does not think that Oklahoma has a business image at all,
but would like to develop an image of a positive, pro-business,
innovative, up-and-coming city like San Diego, San Antonio or
Focused marketing, which attracts businesses that can thrive in
the existing economy, is more cost efficient, Bee said.
"Oklahoma City has tremendous assets," Bee said, "that need to
be directed in the right channels. …