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May 3, 2013

Education top economic draw for Norman

NORMAN — Education, including Norman’s public schools, is a top wealth creator in Cleveland County, according to a state economic expert who spoke Thursday at the Norman Economic Development Coalition’s annual Economic Summit.

City leaders gathered at Embassy Suites Norman to network, hear updates from community leaders, and learn about Oklahoma’s Economic Systems. Additionally, this year featured remarks by Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby.

Deidre Myers, Deputy Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Policy, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, spoke on Oklahoma Ecosystems: Accelerating State and Regional Economic Growth. Analysis by Myers’ team identified four ecosystems operating in Cleveland County — Education, Energy, Professional and Scientific Services, and Information and Financial Services.

“What are our assets?” Myers said.

Myers said it is important to play your strengths in economic competition as well as an athletic one. While diversity can be valuable, that diversity should not come at the expense of a state, region, county or city’s greatest assets. We are competing in a global market and must find our niche, she said.

“We need to think in terms of regional economics,” Myers said, and regions don’t always follow geographical boundaries. Norman’s medical services draw from south of Cleveland County while university research and development draw from the Oklahoma City metro. Wealth is created beyond the county line.

It’s not always necessary to bring new companies to the state to grow and prosper, said Myers, as data indicates “90 percent of jobs created come from companies that already have an Oklahoma footprint.”

Those companies do business here and then locate here, are already here and expand or grow internally through entrepreneurship.

“That really directs us in terms of state policy and serving customers,” Myers said.

In some cases multi-county regions might share a “labor shed,” she said.

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