Greater Oklahoma City is in the geographic center of North America equidistant from the east and west coasts and major trade partners of Canada and Mexico. The ten county region is at the crossroads of the U.S., sitting at the heart of three major national highways on the NAFTA corridor.
There's a reason Greater Oklahoma City is such a great place for business: Location. The ten county region is positioned within a day's drive of the rapidly-growing south-central region (OK, TX, AR, LA) projected to grow more than 44% during the next 25 years.
Oklahoma has a strong aerospace infrastructure, with 54 state-of-art training centers across the state.
In Oklahoma, one in 10 employees derives income from the aviation industry, with an industrial output of nearly $12.5 Billion a year.
All new companies start with an idea. When angel investors put their money into a company, they give that idea a chance to generate a business. These businesses generate revenue. That revenue generates jobs. Those jobs create revenue for Oklahoma.
About 10 of every 100 entrepreneurial ideas that i2E sees actually develop into businesses. About one in 10 of those businesses demonstrates the potential to create and sustain quality jobs and create new wealth for Oklahoma.
The tipping point for this economic impact is about five years.
Within the first couple of years after angel investment, such new companies typically will launch a single product, create three new jobs, and produce around $100,000 in revenue. In i2E's experience, entrepreneurial businesses that become successful companies average 18 jobs and produce seven products with revenue of $3 million or more.
Most of these companies have their roots in the science and technology sectors. They pay higher than average wages and offer significant economic leverage by serving from markets outside the state. Oklahoma angel investment led Oklahoma City-based Search and Clear to develop its document collaboration technology in Oklahoma rather than California.
That's an economic development slam dunk.
But economic benefits aren't the only reason angel investment is important to Oklahoma.
From the supply chain interaction between new businesses and other companies, to exciting job opportunities for the graduates of Oklahoma's colleges and universities, to the feet on the street going to Bricktown for dinner or a basketball game, an entrepreneurial economy makes Oklahoma more vibrant and a better place to live.
Angel investors tend to work out of the spotlight behind the scenes. You may not see them, but when entrepreneurial companies appear and succeed, you know they are there. And when angels are there, Oklahoma benefits.
Tom Walker is President and CEO of i2E, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based start-up companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.