“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic,” he said. “Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
One myth that has held back rural Oklahoma is the misguided belief by some that our area cannot compete in a global economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We see time and again that rural Oklahoma can compete in a global economy, bringing prosperity and opportunities to our communities.
It takes two things to dispel that myth: confidence and capital. Confidence is simply a belief that nothing is beyond our reach. It is the foundation on which all our efforts should be based.
Capital is another critical component. Investments in infrastructure are critical for rural Oklahoma to compete and win in the global economy. Over the past several years, we in the Legislature have made historic investments in our transportation infrastructure.
As far as we have come in putting more money into our highways, we must continue that momentum. Still, we dare not limit these investments solely to highways. We have other transportation opportunities that thus far we have missed.
Last year, I proposed the Regional Business Airport Modernization Act to provide an infusion of $10 million for airport improvements in mid-size communities. These are not big passenger airports located in metro areas; rather, these airports are in primarily rural areas where business opportunities create air traffic.
These airports are critical gateways to mid-size communities. They are where CEOs land to look for business relocation or expansion sites. The airports are business centers for entrepreneurs who provide services to the aviation industry.
The proposed $10 million expenditure would be a critical investment that will repay the state in increased economic activity and improved transportation infrastructure. For anyone who doubts the potential for airport modernization, simply look at a recent announcement from northern Oklahoma.
A small airplane manufacturer has relocated its production and office operations from San Diego, Calif., to the Blackwell-Tonkawa Regional Airport. This one relocation will generate 40 jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact.
There are other opportunities out there, but our airports must be ready to attract them. That is why I have again introduced the Regional Business Airport Modernization Act.
Rural Oklahoma has the confidence. Now, the challenge for the Legislature is to pass SB 13 and provide the capital – for our communities and our future.