State leaders gathered Tuesday in Oklahoma City to host the state's first ever suppliers expo with the goal of keeping more state contracts local.
“We want to do more business with Oklahoma companies than we ever have,” state COO Steven Harpe told a crowd of state employees, cabinet secretaries and around 450 local companies.
“The private sector always does better than the government,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. "So, we’re trying to bring more of those folks in and share with them with the services we are providing to Oklahoma citizens.”
Harpe said it used to take two years for a company to become a state vendor. It now takes less than two weeks.
“We were challenged roughly a year ago about the State of Oklahoma not doing business with Oklahomans,” Harpe said. “We dug into that and we felt like, ‘you know what, there are some truth to that,’ and we wanted to get an audience with Oklahoma businesses and tell them what we need.”
Harpe said the state is a nearly $23 billion entity, making it comparable to a Fortune 100 company.
Harpe, echoing the governor, said it's time to get smart about awarding contracts locally, supporting local business, and getting the most bang for tax payer's bucks.
“By opening this up and attracting more companies to bid on state contracts, it’s going to provide better services to Oklahoma, it’s going to be a lower cost, and more value,” Stitt said.
The state hopes to make this an annual event.
“Before I have to go out of the state and start looking at contracts and relationships, I’d rather look right here in the state,” Harpe said.
Companies interested in becoming a state supplier can find more information here.