In keeping with OK2030’s goals, when the Chamber of Commerce staff holds a forum they make sure to use the latest technology. And after a brief bit of background from Dr. Jennifer Lepard, executive director of the State Chamber of Oklahoma Research Foundation, attendees pulled out their cellphones to answer questions, giving Dr. Lepard real-time feedback into the areas Ardmoreites think the program should go next.
“When this process began two years ago the business community was looking at the state and said we can do better,” Lepard said. She pointed out that Oklahoma has scores ranked at or near the bottom in far too many key metrics such as healthcare, education and quality of life.
 That’s where the state chamber and the business community stepped in and decided to offer their assistance.
“Business has never come together to try to figure this out,” Lepard said. “Politicians try as well, but it’s really challenging in that environment because people come and go. But business has been here for a long time and we’re not going anywhere.”
After interviewing and surveying countless business professionals across the state, the group narrowed down their recommendations to 35 specific policy initiatives. The policies fall under what they term the four foundations for a forward moving economy. These categories are: business climate, fiscal stability, workforce talent and quality of life.
Meeting attendees were asked to pull out their cell phones to answer an online survey with two questions pertaining to each category. There were five options available including “none of the above.” As the votes came in, a graph appeared on a projector screen showing the answers.
One of the highlights of the survey was the question ‘how can we improve our regulatory environment.’ The answer, according to those at the meeting, broke down as follows: 53 percent said to systematically review and eliminate outdated regulations, 24 percent said to require an impact analysis for new regulations, 21 percent said to eliminate old regulations when new ones are adopted, and three percent said to require regulations to sunset.
Lepard said that sometimes when a new regulation replaces an old one, the older regulation is sometimes on the books. She also said Ardmore’s responses mirrored what she had been hearing at other forums across the state.
Another notable question asked citizens how to reform state funding for education. While 37 percent answered to streamline the formula so it is easier to understand, 31 percent said to use “backpack funding” where the dollars follow the student. The remaining 32 percent was split between giving public charter schools equal funding to traditional schools, aligning funding with student outcomes and none of the above.
After the survey, Lepard concluded her remarks by reminding people that OK2030 is an ongoing plan and that it is always striving to make continual improvements. She then invited everyone to go to www.ok2030.org and check out the scorecard section. It lists Oklahoma’s rankings according to the four foundations of a forward moving economy, and the goal is to make progress moving up in the rankings.
“You can look at the rankings in each of the four foundations and see where we’re doing great and where we are not,” Lepard said. “But if we’re not moving the needle, we don’t need to be doing this. We’ll need to change our course.”