By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
If you look at economic development from the state perspective, there are three areas of concentration.
- One, Oklahoma can be in an arms race against other states for the next new manufacturing plant or the next corporation looking to move.
- Two, the state can create tax incentives to encourage businesses already here to expand existing jobs.
- Or, three, Oklahoma can invest in new companies that add homegrown jobs that take less state dollars per job to create and are more likely to remain in Oklahoma long-term.
Job creation affects us all. We’ve proven that innovative new technology companies — whether in information technology, bioscience, or advanced manufacturing — are successfully creating jobs here that pay more than 50 percent more than the state average. Oklahoma has validated its approach.
As a state, we are at the cusp of such a dramatic opportunity. It’s just that not everyone realizes what this state can do.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Ben Parr, journalist, entrepreneur and investor (and a Forbes 30 Under 30 achiever), wrote about his research in the science behind capturing other people’s attention.
It seems that our frame of reference — which is formed by the experiences and ideas we’ve had in our lives — tells our brains which ideas to consider and which ideas to ignore.
Given that, it’s no big surprise that many students in Palo Alto aspire to be entrepreneurs. Similarly, it’s no big wonder that there’s hardly a person in Oklahoma over the age of 12 who doesn’t understand how important oil and gas is to this state.
To cause people to sit up and take notice, Parr says, use repetition to change their frame so they can receive disruptive ideas. Further, the more the event that you are repeatedly talking runs counter to expectations, the more compelling it is.
Repetition and surprising events.
On the same day last December, we learned that two of i2E’s portfolio companies were being acquired by major corporations — Selexys Pharmaceuticals by Novartis, the No. 2 ranking pharmaceutical company in the world, and WeGoLook by Crawford and Co., one of the world’s largest solutions providers to the insurance industry.
These exits didn’t just happen. They came about because a lot of people in both public and private sectors in Oklahoma believe that the most powerful way to expand our state’s economy is to build it up ourselves.
Repetition and surprising events. Not as obvious as an oil well on the capital lawn, but powerful in helping Oklahoman’s realize that while new companies and industries might not ever be as important as oil, in Oklahoma, economic growth from innovation and economic growth from natural resources and traditional industries is no longer an either/or proposition.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.