Eternal optimists often say there are no problems, only opportunities.

Perhaps that’s what State Sen. Patrick Anderson is thinking when he recommends the state of Oklahoma take the opportunity to offer itself up as a business location for displaced Gulf Coast companies devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He proposes using vetoed funds still in the Department of Commerce budget to contact and recruit Gulf Coast businesses to small communities in Oklahoma.

No doubt several states probably are thinking the same thing. While New Orleans and coastal communities will rebuild to some extent, it’s unrealistic to think all displaced companies will go right back to business in those areas.

There’s more than $3 million in the Department of Commerce budget that can be used to make contacts. This is a real opportunity for the state of Oklahoma to leverage these dollars to help local communities make some pitches to these companies.

Time is of the essence, however. Business owners are evaluating their prospects right now. Local economic development groups, such as the Enid/Garfield County Development Alliance, should be making contacts right now.

As Anderson points out, many displaced Gulf Coast residents already have found their way back to Oklahoma because of family ties. This may be the perfect opportunity to interest those folks in coming back to Oklahoma and starting new companies.

Garfield, Kingfisher and Logan counties, which are part of Anderson’s district, all have infrastructure in place that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast communities no longer have.

We hope Gov. Brad Henry listens to Anderson’s idea, and makes the move to free up that $3 million to get started right away.

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