The Importance of Supporting Key Incentive Programs

Posted by: Roy Williams on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:00:00 am

Every day, the Chamber works to create a stronger business climate in Greater Oklahoma City, striving to not only make our region more appealing for new companies looking to relocate or expand, but to also make it easier for our local companies to achieve success.

Over the last two decades, Oklahoma has developed a number of incentive programs that have helped our state and our region better compete for capital investment and the creation of primary jobs. The economic growth and diversification we have seen over the last decade, and our resilience during the recent economic downturn, would likely not have been possible without this robust growth supported by these programs.

Most of Oklahoma's economic development incentives are revenue positive meaning they provide net new revenue to the state. This is a positive thing for our state, region and city, and something we must continue to monitor and support. But revenue is not the only unit of measurement when looking at the effectiveness of such programs. For example, the renovation of the Skirvin Hotel would not have been possible without the help of a historic tax credit, yet it is evident today that the Skirvin has played a vital role in much of the downtown development we have seen since.

As we continue to look at our state's incentive programs and measure their effects, it is important to remember the end-goal of incentive programs: to strengthen our economy, to make Oklahoma more competitive in the region and nationally, and to grow employment and wealth for our citizens. The only real way to do that is to attract new investment and jobs or to help our existing companies grow and expand and incentives play a crucial role in that process.

Incentives should be regularly evaluated. The success of these programs must be measured for their effectiveness, and any necessary changes to the process and language should be implemented to ensure accountability. If, through the appropriate measurement, we find that a program is not doing what it set out to do, it is certainly wise to end it. I can assure you that we are closely monitoring the legislature's work during this interim session and we will be working to see that those programs that work remain intact.


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