Greater Oklahoma City Chamber president and CEO
Roy Williams became president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber 18 years ago, working in a much different city than the one he is now set to spend his retirement years enjoying.
“We worked to make this a better place,” he said. “Once you make this a better place, suddenly businesses are attracted to it. It breeds more and more opportunity for you to be successful as a community. We’re working to build a better community. And when you build a better community, now you have something to sell.”
In Williams’ tenure, he worked closely on almost all of the major projects that helped transform the city. Projects like the new convention center, the Omni Hotel development, growth at Tinker Air Force Base and the formation of the Innovation District are just a few of the big-name projects completed in recent years. And during his tenure, he’s credited with bringing more than 88,000 new jobs to the metro area and an additional $7 billion in capital investment.
“I was a collaborator, and I was able to help identify people that I could bring to the table that could help solve problems and build a bigger, better city,” he said. “You have to be able to convince city leaders that these problems are important, and they can help solve them.”
Williams spent a long time working to fix what was broken in Oklahoma City, and he said the next generation of Oklahoma City economic development leadership needs to stay the course.
“It’s not broken,” he said. “I don’t know that anyone needs to come in here and say, ‘I need to take this in a new direction.’ You need to work hard on the collaboration and relationships civic leaders and corporate leaders and elected leaders have made and get their commitment to keep this momentum going.
“When can we rest? When can we stop doing what we’re doing? The moment you slow down or stop, your competition blows past you. This is a marathon. You can’t stop. You can’t stop and say we need to enjoy where we are. Your competition would eat you alive. You have to wake up and run faster than your competition. Never slow down. Feel like tomorrow you have to do 100 percent more than you did yesterday.”