Commerce and Tourism Secretary Deby Snodgrass spoke with Muskogee area manufacturers and economic development experts at the Greater Muskogee Manufacturers Alliance Meeting about the state’s budget shortfall.
She explained that despite some concerns, with economic development new investment during the past fiscal year (that ended June 30, 2017) surpassed the state’s $1.2 billion annual goal by more than $7.25 million. During fiscal year 2017, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce helped produce 47 wins (three more than FY 16), with more than 20 percent of those wins resulting from foreign direct investment into the State of Oklahoma.
She offered a number of specific recommendations for Greater Muskogee economic development including:
Continue efforts for workforce education and training.
Procure more land for development at the Port of Muskogee, and improve rail access at the port.
Increase marketing of the port to bulk shippers, logistical firms and heavy industry.
Target suppliers and consumers of products generated at the Daltile, Georgia Pacific, Advantage Controls, Global Machine, Love Bottling, Metals USA, O-I, Graham Packaging, Custom Seating, American Foundry, Vallourec Star, Owens Illinois, Acme Engineering and other manufacturers in Muskogee County
Expand transload (shorthaul-truck to rail or vice versa) Port of Muskogee,
Industrial Development Director Marie Synar’s office was instrumental in creating one of their local workforce programs known as Muskogee Dream It. Do It. Initiated in 2015, it is designed to inspire youth to pursue manufacturing careers.
In general Sec. Snodgrass considered some of the items that helped achieve this level of new investment including, the state’s right-to-work laws, low costs of doing business, and extremely low tax rates.
She also cited items that would help improve investment in the state such as slightly raising taxes.
“I have not had one single company say the taxes are too high,” Snodgrass said. “Their No. 1 worry is our taxes are so low that we can’t pay our teachers, we can’t support our schools, we can’t support our infrastructure.”