Oklahoma continues to rack up the wins, and it’s no surprise why. The state consistently boasts one of the lowest costs of doing business in the country. In just the past six months, companies like Boeing and GE have held grand openings of new facilities in the Sooner State, bringing new, high-paying jobs and impressive levels of investment.
Oklahoma offers distinct advantages to businesses seeking to relocate or expand, including a low cost of living, a state government determined to support businesses and to grow the labor force, a regulatory climate that is both responsible and reasonable, and an educated, flexible and committed workforce. Governor Mary Fallin has made it a key priority to give Oklahomans a better quality of life, primarily by creating jobs and strengthening the economy.
“Oklahoma truly is the land of opportunity. If you want to work for a world-renowned corporation, you can do that here. If you want to live in a bustling urban center, you can do that here. If you have always dreamed of starting a company, you can start one here,” she said. “And you can do it in a state that’s as friendly to businesses as it is to people.”
State of Innovation
“Innovation” is one of the latest buzzwords in business. With ever-changing technology, businesses have to learn how to be smarter, faster and more cost effective. But in Oklahoma, innovation goes well beyond talk around a conference table. All across the state, that word is being put into action – whether through the development of innovation districts or through applications in emerging technologies.
Drilling for New Ideas
Providing a present and future glimpse of promising new technologies in the pipeline for the Oil and Gas Industry, GE held the grand opening of its new Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City in October 2016. The new center features 125,000 square feet of lab and office space and will become a central hub for GE scientists and engineers to closely collaborate with the Oil and Gas Industry on cutting-edge digital and hardware solutions to advance the industry.
Lorenzo Simonelli, President and CEO, GE Oil & Gas said, “We believe a strong commitment to R&D will help our oil and gas customers find new efficiencies to work through tough market conditions and lead to transformational opportunities for the industry to thrive long-term. The new technology center in Oklahoma City will accelerate innovation; it’s where we can bring the full power of digital solutions and technology from across GE’s industrial businesses to advance the Oil and Gas Industry.”
At the Center opening, GE unveiled a prototype drone, nicknamed “Raven,” engineered to detect emissions precisely and cost-effectively, to help customers reduce environmental impact and improve operational efficiency in the Oil & Gas industry. Southwestern Energy Company successfully piloted the technology to detect emissions from oilfield equipment at well sites in Arkansas in July.
Vic Abate, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, GE said, “At our new research center in Oklahoma City, customers benefit from the collective global brain of technologists from our ten GE global research centers around the world, as well as our 50,000 global GE engineers who span multiple industry sectors. We call it the GE Store, and it allows us to bring innovation from other GE industries such as Aviation, Power, Healthcare and Transportation to transform and strengthen the Oil and Gas sector.”
Up, Up and Away
In July 2016, The Boeing Company celebrated its 100th anniversary and opened its new 290,000-sq-ft engineering research and development lab in Oklahoma City. The facility will support 800 jobs and represents an $80 million investment.
“The labs in Oklahoma City are where the ideas to sustain and advance our B-52, our C-17, the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft) and many other platforms will come to life,” said Ed Dolanski, president of Boeing’s Global Services and Support Division.
In the summer of 2015, when Boeing broke ground on the facility, the company announced that it would be moving the headquarters for GS&S’ Aircraft Modernization and Sustainment (AM&S) division to Oklahoma City.
“We see a bright horizon for the aircraft sustainment business because of the highly trained and motivated workforce we have in Oklahoma City,” said Global Services & Support (GS&S) President Leanne Caret. “Expanding our presence and bringing AM&S headquarters here continues a trend of combining Oklahoma’s home-grown talent with the best of the enterprise to support some of our customers’ most critical missions.”
Another innovative company set its sights on Oklahoma in 2015 when Commercial Metals Company (CMC) announced that it would build its second technologically advanced micro mill in Durant, Oklahoma.
The company broke ground on this new investment in July 2016. The mill will mirror CMC’s existing micro mill in Mesa, Arizona and will be built with improved technology developed from CMC’s operating experience with the world’s first micro mill, which CMC successfully commissioned in Mesa in 2009. The addition of a second micro mill to CMC’s portfolio of highly efficient, customer focused and cost effective steel production facilities will enhance CMC’s position as a leading supplier of long products in the U.S. market.
The Oklahoma micro mill, utilizing Danieli technology and equipment, is expected to be commissioned in the fall of 2017 and to create approximately 300 jobs in the Durant area. The direct and indirect investment is expected to be in excess of approximately $250 million. CMC expects that its investment will be funded from internally generated capital.
“The location of the mill in Durant, Oklahoma, eighty miles north of Dallas, will allow us to better serve a growing North Texas market as well as expand into markets in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Missouri,” said Joe Alvarado, President & CEO, CMC. “The facility will produce low cost, high quality steel products, which will complement our existing manufacturing capability to better serve our customers.”
In recent years, Oklahoma has seen significant growth in the wide-ranging industry sector of professional, scientific and technical services.
In March 2016, Oklahoma City-based Paycom Software announced plans to add an approximately $16-million, fully equipped building adjacent to its headquarters. The project will result in more than 400 new jobs over the next five years and will allow the company to keep pace with expected future demands for its cloud-based, human capital management software solution as it continues to grow in the market.
“We are very much a tech company, and while we are proud of our payroll service, with our product offering, we have grown into the largest tech company headquartered in Oklahoma City,” says Paycom COO, Stacey Pezold. “I think we are proud of the diversity that technology can bring to Oklahoma City’s economic development. Oklahoma is a great place to do business cost-wise, but also from a talent perspective. People want to live and stay here, but the universities here have put an emphasis on creating great tech talent.”
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