Skip to main content

News and Media

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu
a globe

CITD’s research aims to reverse trend of well-educated individuals leaving Oklahoma

Monday, April 8, 2024

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |


The primary focus of the Wes Watkins Center for International Trade Development is to stimulate trade and create job opportunities for Oklahomans.

The CITD’s most recent report, “Oklahoma Brain Drain Reversal: What is Happening, and What Can We Learn?” was released in December 2024. It exemplifies the principles upheld by the CITD and showcases the diligent work of its multicultural team.

This report challenges the prevailing narrative of brain drain and identifies a potential reversal in the departure of well-educated individuals from the state. The CITD contends that international trade, particularly through small businesses, is pivotal for faster growth, higher wages and greater economic stability. A key finding in the report underscores Oklahoma’s opportunity to contribute to the evolving Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade corridor.

The report also highlights a comparison with the state of Tennessee, which has experienced a similar dynamic, and leveraged its geographic location and position along the Mississippi River to become a major logistics hub in the country. With this comparison, the CITD aims to reveal a strategy in which Oklahoma can learn from Tennessee’s success and chart a path to become an international trade hub.

Tennessee and Oklahoma share similarities in terms of population and sustained economic growth, and have some of the most affordable costs of living and lowest levels of unemployment in the U.S. These factors make both states appealing to people to move in.

The team’s central insight is that a strategic set of investments in transportation infrastructure could propel Oklahoma’s role as a hub for continental trade along the I-35 corridor, especially considering the recent trend toward nearshoring.

The CITD aspires through its research and publications to contribute to Oklahoma’s competitiveness by addressing trade challenges and highlighting opportunities for strengthening and diversifying the state’s economy in line with global trends.

“Brain Drain Reversal” emphasizes talent retention and attraction through Oklahoma’s positioning as an international trade hub; “Trading Up 2.0” delves into Oklahoma’s postpandemic global trade dynamics; The “Human Equation” centers on workforce development and the role of human capital in enhancing productivity and global competitiveness. Other studies have explored topics ranging from the trade implications of Brexit to the systemic nature of COVID-era supply chain disruptions.

Each research initiative, though distinct, converges on the overarching goal of fostering Oklahoma’s growth, adaptability and global competitiveness. The diversity of research topics reflects a comprehensive approach to addressing the complex and interconnected factors influencing the state’s economic well-being. Importantly, these investigations aim to provide actionable insights and strategies to enhance Oklahoma’s resilience, attract talent and position the state favorably in the global market.

Access all of the CITD’s reports online.

Photo By: Shutterstock

Story By: Andrew Ranson | GLOBAL Magazine

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.