By Oklahoma Department of Commerce
Faced with the challenge of global supply chain issues and fluctuating markets, Oklahoma has set out to bring more opportunities to businesses operating in the state. With a focus on rural areas, the state has continued to attract investment through sector-based economic development recruitment efforts while also successfully administering multiple programs to provide community assistance, supporting infrastructure investment and bolstering economic development opportunities.
“In 2022, Oklahoma secured project wins that represent the type of economic growth and diversity we want to flourish within our state,” said Chad Mariska, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development. “Our initiatives are focused on bringing new jobs and investment to the state while also finding new ways to support existing Oklahoma businesses and their communities. We have strong momentum, and I believe Oklahoma is on an exciting trajectory for growth and success.”
“We are at the forefront of one of the most transformative times in Oklahoma with innovation happening in nearly every sector across our state,” said Brent Kisling, Executive Director of Commerce. “I’m particularly proud of our state’s focus on workforce development and our ability to foster economic growth by filling workforce gaps. We have strengthened and improved supply chains while also increasing infrastructure investment through initiatives like our new SITES program. I am excited to see the development Oklahoma will see over the next year and looking forward to continuing telling our state’s story on the national stage.”
Launched in Feb. 2023, the SITES Program is proactively addressing statewide site infrastructure needs to meet the demand of existing businesses as well as companies looking to establish operations in Oklahoma. The program represents the state’s commitment to infrastructure investment and includes plans to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years to create and strengthen industrial sites.
Over the past year, Oklahoma has made national strides to support continued expansion and foster economic growth. Massive population gains and an increase in jobs coupled with Oklahoma’s gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at a rate of 5.5 percent, has pushed the state to become the third fastest-growing economy in the nation. Flourishing businesses and industries across the state factored into the state’s GDP growth. The state also held the 10th largest net migration over the past 12 months, adding more than 32,000 new residents.
Commerce-led economic development projects won during 2022 are expected to bring more than 7,000 new jobs and $3.7 billion in new private investment. Some of the projects contributing to these numbers include major achievements within our Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Transportation and Infrastructure sectors.
Securing the first domestic rare earth metal and magnet manufacturing facility. USA Rare Earth plans to invest more than $100 million in developing a manufacturing facility in Stillwater, Okla., and will utilize its own facilities and technology to convert rare earth oxides into metals, magnets and other specialty materials. Initial production at the facility is expected to commence in 2023, with the project aiming to create more than 100 new jobs and generate over $6.6 million in wages once fully operational.
Attracting foreign direct investment at the Oklahoma Air & Space Port. A historic win for Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense, Governor Kevin Stitt and local leaders announced that Premium Aerospace Center (PAC) will locate its international headquarters at the Oklahoma Air & Space Port complex in Burns Flat, Okla. PAC will invest several million dollars to renovate and expand two existing hangars and build a third hangar at the facility. The company estimates as many as 600 new jobs to be added once the hangars are complete.
Increased investment in infrastructure. In 2022, the Oklahoma legislature made a historic investment in the state’s infrastructure, allocating nearly $1 billion in project funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with specific investment in broadband access. The legislature also allocated another $250 million in state funds to create the Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity (PREP) fund which will help industrial parks and aeronautics facilities in rural areas of the state modernize and expand infrastructure, leading to increased economic development opportunities. This investment will play a key role in the newly launched SITES program.
Improving supply chains for the manufacturing industry with Connex Oklahoma. Through the supply chain database tool which lists more than 4,000 companies, Commerce was able to provide greater access for our local companies across the state.
Strengthening workforce development. In January 2023, Governor Stitt created the Oklahoma Workforce Transformation Task Force which will develop a single entity responsible for workforce development and delivery. A key focus of the task force will be to identify and develop meaningful public-private partnerships within the business community to respond to the critical job needs of today and deliver the workforce needs of tomorrow.
“In today’s environment, workforce has become a growing priority. We know that a pipeline of talent is essential to supporting businesses,” said Mariska. “This taskforce will create a collaborative system to deliver on workforce needs. I’m confident Oklahoma will soon be the model for workforce delivery in the U.S.”