OKC VeloCity | Existing companies add jobs to the economy, report finds

Existing companies add jobs to the economy, report finds

By Chamber staff / Economy / October 1, 2018

According to the Chamber’s Business Retention and Expansion Report, existing companies are the foundation of growth for the Oklahoma City economy. The region’s existing companies added 4,918 jobs to the economy between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. The report also found that the majority of employers feel that the future is bright in Oklahoma City.

The 245 companies interviewed—representing 64,718 employees and 19 key industries—were asked about how satisfied they were with different aspects of Oklahoma City’s business environment. Respondents indicated high satisfaction rates with Oklahoma City’s cost of living (97 percent), quality of life (95 percent) and cost of doing business (92 percent). In contrast, businesses surveyed expressed concern with public K-12 education and the quantity of available workforce.

“Our existing businesses are often the barometer for the health of our economy,” said Roy H. Williams, CCE, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Greater Oklahoma City has created the right kind of environment in which our businesses can grow; we now need to increase our focus on the factors that will continue that growth—education and workforce development.”

Interviews with companies indicated that business owners are pleased with the improved amenities and cultural activities being added to downtown, area parks, urban housing options and elementary schools supporting families. Of the companies visited, 78 percent also reported satisfaction with the city’s leadership, but note the need to continually focus on improving the city in order to attract and retain existing talent.

Oklahoma City businesses are also experiencing the benefit of Oklahoma’s improved workers’ compensation system. The state went from being ranked last in the country to first in terms of improved workers’ compensation five-year premium level changes. The number of workers’ compensation cases filed in Oklahoma has dropped from nearly 15,000 in FY13 to about 8,000 in FY17. Oklahoma companies have experienced a 30 percent reduction in aggregate premium totals since 2013, resulting in cost savings for companies.

Only 3 percent of companies surveyed were dissatisfied with resources available to businesses. Rating overall business conditions, 56 percent of those surveyed reported that despite having several areas needing improvement, business conditions today are better than they were several years ago.

“Our existing businesses are often the barometer for the health of our economy,” said Roy H. Williams, CCE, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Greater Oklahoma City has created the right kind of environment in which our businesses can grow; we now need to increase our focus on the factors that will continue that growth—education and workforce development.”

While unemployment for the Oklahoma City MSA continues to be low, hovering around 4 percent, this presents a challenge for many companies with open positions. Similar to many other metros, the Greater Oklahoma City region is facing a shortage of skilled labor, particularity in STEM-capable disciplines.

A recurring message gathered from company visits is that Oklahoma City’s talent pipeline—including its public education system—needs to improve in order to meet current and future workforce needs. Of the companies surveyed, 66 percent are dissatisfied with the current K-12 system and, as a result, are finding creative ways to advocate for themselves in the arena of education. Many companies have created their own training programs such as externships, work-study, internships and apprenticeships to ensure that incoming employees are adequately trained. Companies are also exploring the use of virtual and augmented reality as a new way to introduce career pathways and implement work-based learning models.

The Chamber is responding to the talent needs of businesses by implementing its next-generation talent strategy that includes training existing workers and attracting more people to middle-skill positions. Whether the worker is already here or needs to be attracted to move to Oklahoma City, the Chamber’s strategy is to build strong, working collaborations between industries and educational institutions to position the region for growth in high-demand occupations.

The 245 companies visited by Chamber staff reported:

  • 90 percent have retained the same ownership structure over the past five years.
  • 63 percent are in an emerging or growing life cycle of their primary product/service.
  • 73 percent are privately or family owned.
  • 64 percent are headquartered in Oklahoma.
  • 45 percent own their buildings.
  • 50 percent plan on purchasing new equipment within the next 18 months.
  • 66 percent have room to physically expand at their current locations.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of The POINT!

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