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Poll Finds Business Leaders High on Oklahoma, But Concerned About Workforce, Taxes, and Education

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

August 2022

Education remains a challenge as business leaders seek the best talent in the state.

By Brent Skarky, Oklahoma State Chamber

Oklahoma City (July 26, 2022) – Business leaders view Oklahoma as a good place to do business, with an overwhelming majority of those surveyed saying they will make investments in Oklahoma in the coming year.

Despite generally believing Oklahoma’s economy is headed in the right direction, Oklahoma business leaders identify challenges related to workforce, education, and taxes the state needs to tackle to remain competitive regionally and nationally.

Those are among the opinions business leaders expressed in the 2022 Business Leaders Poll, an annual collaborative project of The State Chamber, the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, and the State Chamber Research Foundation (SCRF) that has recently been released. This year’s survey polled more than 350 business executives and leaders.

The annual poll is the only statewide, scientific survey that annually measures the sentiments, concerns, and outlook of business leaders—from the C-suites to the corner stores—who shape Oklahoma’s economy.

Oklahoma business leaders were positive about the current and future business environment in Oklahoma.

-79% of leaders say their company will make investments in Oklahoma over the next year.
-63% say compared to the national economy, Oklahoma’s is going in the right direction.
-62% identified workforce challenges as their top concern.

“Oklahoma businesses are the engine of our state’s growth and success,” said Chad Warmington, President and CEO of The State Chamber. “The goal of the Business Leaders Poll is to ensure state leaders understand the perspectives of the people on the front lines of Oklahoma’s economy, the men and women who run businesses, large and small.”

According to the poll, business leaders are unified in the belief that Oklahoma needs better results from its education system.

-87% think Oklahoma’s higher education system needs to do a better job of incentivizing students to study in fields where there is a greater workforce need.

-62% believe that school choice options like charter schools and funding for private school options will increase the overall effectiveness of the K-12 education system.

“It’s clear from the survey data that business leaders see improving Oklahoma’s education system as the top priority for improving the workforce talent pipeline,” said Ben Lepak, Executive Director of the State Chamber Research Foundation. “This matches what we see in educational outcomes statistics, where Oklahoma is routinely near the bottom of the national rankings. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and businesses have to plan for the long-term.”

“I think overall, business leaders are positive about Oklahoma’s economic climate and the state’s business-friendly attitude, but it’s also clear that they have some strong concerns about particular issues,” said Mark Funke, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable.

Business leaders also identified Oklahoma’s individual income tax as in need of reform.

While a majority think the overall tax burden on their business is not too high, leaders say reform of the individual income tax needs to be prioritized to stay economically competitive.

To read more about the The 2022 Oklahoma Business Leaders Poll, visit here.

About The State Chamber Research Foundation

The State Chamber Research Foundation (SCRF) is the business community’s think tank. Through high-quality research and analysis, SCRF educates policymakers and the public about the virtues of the free enterprise system, the public policy ideas that enable free enterprise to thrive, and the positive contributions of the business community to the prosperity and welfare of the people of Oklahoma. As a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization, SCRF is dedicated to advancing free markets, increasing opportunity, and growing prosperity.


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