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Beth:

Growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma, I always felt blessed by the topography and the culture. Rolling hills, hardwood forests mingled with prairie and especially the lakes (albeit manmade) coupled with the Native American roots. And Tulsa enjoyed the blessings and bounty of a healthy oil business for decades. As a H.S. student, I used to attend the annual IPE (International Petroleum Exhibition) where the technology for the oil field was showcased every year (The IPE building is located at the Fairgrounds). That event is no longer held in Tulsa but in Houston which has become the center of the oil industry.

Without question, Tulsa and Oklahoma has lost the oil business to Houston. And along with the businesses all of those high paying jobs left town also. The Tulsa skyline is littered with buildings that used to be named for companies that no longer HQ or even maintain offices in Tulsa - The Cities Service building (now Oxy), the Reading and Bates building (that wonderful skyscraper with the Art Deco facade on 3rd street), the Warren Petroleum building, the Skelly building (later the Texaco building, now ?), Arco (5th and Cincinnatti), Amoco (6th and Boston), etc., etc., etc.

As the oil business left, Oklahoma did not have another industry to bring money into the state to pay the salaries of (as many) educated professionals (as before). In the 60s, 70s and early 80s, Oklahoma was a magnet for engineers from other states that relocated to oklahoma to work in the oil industry. We did not take advantage or our opportunities. Through the years, Oklahoma has not done a good job of marketing itself for the next generation of business, whether it is "high tech" or whatever follows. The repressive tax structure, and the lack of a business friendly environment have hurt Oklahoma for the past several decades. Only with the departure of the oil business does it become evident that we haven't positioned ourselves to compete with other states and countries.

The good news is that there remain a large cadre of loyal Oklahomans that possess an almost palpable desire to see our state succeed well into the 21st Century and attract industry, and to build new industries in our state. Companies like WCG are vitally important to the future of our state. Hopefully, there will exist in Tulsa and in Oklahoma enough synergy and energy that would attract the creative and agressive individuals that have the guts, the drive, the motivation, the perseverance and the intelligence to start new businesses that engage technology and advance the economic future of our state.

The State of Oklahoma can do a lot to help in that effort - and it is politics that we are talking about. We need to reduce or eliminate the personal income tax, we need "right to work" so that businesses feel free to locate manufacturing in Oklahoma, and we need to commit more money to our two flagship Universities to attract the research and creative atmosphere at those locations where new ideas will be deployed to form new businesses. We cannot truly predict what new technological advances will continue to drive the economy forward for the next two to three decades, but we must position ourselves to become a player in whatever technology is developed. We can do better, we must do better.

BWRobin

(Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now).
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