Budget & Tax

Curtis Shelton | December 11, 2019

Oklahoma City makes the nice list

Curtis Shelton

It’s the time of year for lists. Whether it’s a list of the things we want, or a list showing who’s been naughty or nice, it’s tough to make it through the Christmas season without running into a few lists. The Center for the Study of Economic Liberty (CSEL) at Arizona State University has created its own list—Doing Business North America (DBNA)—and Oklahoma City is at the very top when it comes to “ease of doing business.” According to CSEL:

Doing Business North America (DBNA) is predicated on the idea that a well-functioning economy has good rules. For our purposes, the focus is on rules that enable domestic small- to medium-sized businesses to get started, locate an establishment, get electricity, and hire employees. The rules should also be clear about paying taxes and, if it comes to it, resolving insolvency. The ease of doing business in a location is higher when the rules are clear and the steps involved are few. 

The report uses six categories to measure 115 major cities: Starting a Business, Employing Workers, Getting Electricity, Registering Property, Paying Taxes, and Resolving Insolvency. The categories in the study “are composed of a total of 63 data indicators, variables, and indexes grouped together into a total of 36 scored variables.”

Aside from Resolving Insolvency, which relies on a federal-level policy, Oklahoma City’s highest ranking is in Registering Property, at 5th. Its lowest ranking is in Starting a Business, at 23rd.

Of course, it’s not just a city’s policy that shapes how easy it is to do business. It’s the state’s policy as well. When looking at the top and bottom 10 U.S. cities, it’s no surprise which states show up. The top 10 cities are in states like Virginia, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Idaho—states that routinely show up as some of the least-burdensome in the country in terms of taxation and regulation.

The bottom 10 cities tell a different story. Of those 10 cities, four are in California and three in New York—two of the highest-tax and most regulated states in the country.

Attracting new businesses (and expanding existing ones) is crucial for growing an economy. Making the process easy for those businesses will do nothing but help spur Oklahoma’s economy. This is especially important as the state looks to diversify beyond one dominant industry. One often hears about the volatility of Oklahoma’s economy, and rightly so; a volatile economy leads to volatile revenue sources for state government, which invariably leads to bigger and more intrusive government. Creating and maintaining a business is already hard enough; Oklahoma should continue to work towards allowing its entrepreneurs and innovators to operate without unnecessary burdens from state and local governments.

Curtis Shelton Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton

Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

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