As new leadership takes the helm in Oklahoma, the state is charting the course to economic development success.
Newly inaugurated Governor Kevin Stitt has set his sights on achieving a top 10 economy. With a CEO-mindset and business acumen, he’ll focus the state’s efforts on some of the major concerns facing companies considering a move or expansion: workforce development, business climate and simplifying the process for companies expanding or relocating.
“During my campaign for governor, I visited every county in the state and I met with hardworking Oklahomans,” said Stitt. “The work ethic of our citizens is why Goodyear’s largest tire manufacturing facilities are located in Lawton, Oklahoma. It is why American Airline’s largest maintenance and repair facility in the world is in Tulsa. It is why our state was the birthplace of successful businesses like QuikTrip, Hobby Lobby and Sonic. There is untapped potential in Oklahoma and our team is going to capitalize on that and make sure the world knows that Oklahoma is a top 10 state.”
Talent that Works
Every state is being challenged to produce a pipeline of talent that is well-trained and hardworking. When choosing their next location or planning an expansion, low taxes only go so far. A key element to a company’s decision is always ensuring the company can hire the right people to get the job done. Under the direction of newly appointed Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce works to ensure that the answer is always “yes.” By talking directly to businesses and collaborating with the state’s CareerTech network and Higher Education, Commerce can identify talent needs and help work toward shared solutions.
While the state has long been a standout in workforce training programs, Oklahoma’s leadership is focused on streamlining workforce development efforts.
“Oklahoma has an amazing educational and training system. We offer the impressive Training for Industry Program through our CareerTech, which provides customized workforce training to businesses at little or no cost to companies,” said Kouplen. “Companies can only move to Oklahoma if they believe they can secure a quality workforce. We want to streamline our efforts and make ourselves known as the nation’s best in workforce development.”
Energizing the Economy
In recent years, Oklahoma has continued to embrace its roots as a traditional energy state while working to diversify the economy.
Company announcements from the past six months showcase the diversity of businesses choosing to grow in or expand to Oklahoma:
- Salem Tube, a global manufacturer of high precision stainless steel tubing and nickel alloy tubes, selected Durant, Oklahoma, for the site of its North American headquarters and advanced manufacturing facility.
- Greenheck Group, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of air movement, control and conditioning equipment, completed phase one of its Tulsa campus, a $100 million capital investment that will employ 600 people.
- Spirit AeroSystems announced plans to expand operations at its Tulsa, site by hiring approximately 250 employees and investing more than $80 million in capital projects.
- Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., opened its new 100,000-square-foot unmanned aircraft production facility in Oklahoma City.
- Booz Allen Hamilton announced plans to add 240 jobs to the state of Oklahoma over the next 10 years. The jobs will include a variety of high-skilled positions, including technology-focused cybersecurity, engineering, analytics, digital solutions and consulting services.
- Valkyrie Systems Aerospace is bringing manufacturing facilities, flight operations and training to the greater Oklahoma City area, with plans to create more than 350 high-paying jobs in the next five years.
“Kratos chose Oklahoma, with strong encouragement from its Congressional Delegation,” said Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. “The people of Oklahoma represent a highly patriotic, educated, and motivated workforce with the technical skills that will contribute to building the affordable but technology leading weapon systems needed for tomorrow’s world. We could not be happier to be joining this cost-effective business environment and family-friendly community.”
During the first six months of fiscal year 2019 (July 1 – Dec. 31, 2018), business announcements from projects worked by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce represented a wide variety of industries:
- Aerospace & Defense: 12 percent
- Agriculture & Bioscience: 12 percent
- Energy: 12 percent
- Information & Financial Services: 27 percent
- Transportation & Distribution: 6 percent
- Other (including Manufacturing): 30 percent
“Oklahoma has a business case for a variety of industries. The announcements we’ve seen in the past few months showcase that Oklahoma is a great place for business, no matter the industry,” said Brent Kisling, Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “We anticipate that we will continue to see announcements in diverse industries, such as manufacturing, aerospace, logistics, technology, and information and financial services.”
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is the nexus for the state’s economic development efforts. As the connection point for local economic development organizations, existing business, workforce identification and training, the agency is the one-stop shop for business relocation and expansion.
“We have heard time and time again from site selectors and companies that we make the process easy, if you could ever call it easy,” said Kisling. “By bringing the right individuals to the table, we can help a company get answers without the so-called middle men. The decision to move to expand operations is hard enough – we want to do everything we can to make Oklahoma the top choice and to make companies confident in that selection.”
As Governor Stitt settles into office, expect to see more and more business announcements coming out of Oklahoma. And expect to see the state make strides in its efforts toward becoming a top 10 state.
“I have started and grown a business in Oklahoma and I know firsthand the challenges facing our state’s business climate. We are ready to tackle these challenges head-on,” said Stitt. “If your company has operations outside of Oklahoma, consider moving those here, and we will work to make the move beneficial for you. Oklahoma may not be a top 10 economy yet, but we’re on our way.”
Visit https://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/oklahoma_ed for local economic development office directory listings.