Oklahoma offers distinct advantages to businesses seeking to relocate or expand, including a low cost of living, a state government determined to support business, 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 the opportunity for a better quality of life, primarily by creating jobs and strengthening the economy.
The state’s efforts are paying off with recent announcements from companies such as Kratos Defense, Lufthansa Technik, American Airlines, DMI Companies, Alfa Laval and others. In 2017, there were 82 publicly announced expansions and relocations made in Oklahoma, totaling more than $6 billion in new investment.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is the intersection for the various avenues of workforce identification and training. From CareerTech and Higher Education to existing available workforce and customized training programs, Commerce helps Oklahoma companies find the talent, or pathway to talent, they need to have a successful operation.
Commercial Metals Corporation (CMC) in Durant is a prime example of how the state works to set companies up for a successful operation. In 2015, CMC announced plans to construct a new micro mill in Durant. When the company made the decision to locate to Durant, one of their main concerns was the ability to have a trained workforce and an environment that would ensure a successful ramp up.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce stepped up with a plan. The agency, along with its community and business partners, traveled to the CMC facility in Arizona. During the visit, the group toured the facility and interviewed staff to identify the qualities and qualifications that made them an asset to the company. By better understanding the company’s processes and workforce needs, the Oklahoma Team could fine tune the recruitment of CMC Oklahoma employees.
Back in Oklahoma, the Commerce team got to work. Efforts such as OKJobMatch and the Talent Acquisition Team helped identify and vet potential employees. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and the Choctaw Nation coordinated job fairs and hiring events and provided prescreening services for potential applicants. The CareerTech system worked with the company to institute a customized training program through Oklahoma’s Training for Industry Program (TIP) which provides low- or no-cost training programs for employers. Thanks to the efforts of various partners, CMC was successful in filling key positions and had full operation of all shifts within the desired timeline.
Beyond the state’s impressive workforce partnerships, Oklahoma has launched new initiatives to ensure that Oklahoma companies have access to a pipeline of talent. At the end of 2017, Governor Fallin announced the “Earn and Learn” initiative which is working to increase the number of Oklahomans engaged in internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
“Each industry has unique needs. Oklahoma is committed to ensuring our citizens have the specific skills employers demand for their businesses to grow and prosper,” said Deby Snodgrass, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism.
Aerospace Continues to Soar in Oklahoma
More than 1,200 aerospace entities are finding success in Oklahoma — and for good reason. The state is a major hub for MRO, flight training, defense operations and manufacturing. In 2017, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission released the Aerospace and Aviation Economic Impact Study which showed that the industry has increased by 250 percent in the last 20 years.
Oklahoma’s prowess in aerospace and defense is not going unnoticed. Major aerospace companies have made announcements in the state in the past six months:
- Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a leading National Security Solutions provider, is moving at least 350 employees and part of its engineering, design and manufacturing operations to Oklahoma City.
- American Airlines announced that Tech-Ops Tulsa will take over a segment of maintenance that is currently outsourced to South America. The Tulsa maintenance base is the largest commercial MRO in the world.
- Lufthansa Technik celebrated the completion of a major expansion project at its Tulsa headquarters. The company added an additional hangar, more than doubling the size of its facility.
“All of the pieces in Oklahoma fit what we were looking for,” said Steve Fendley, president of Kratos’ unmanned systems division. “We wanted a state that is supportive of the business we’re in, supportive of the military, supportive of advancements of our capability testing, have a close proximity to military bases and have the potential for a flight test facility.”
Cost of Living, Quality of Life Help Lure Talent
When it comes to recruiting talent, Oklahoma has a few tricks up its sleeve. The state consistently ranks among the lowest in the nation in terms of cost of living. Add that to the state’s impressive quality of life and the job opportunities offered at impressive companies located in Oklahoma (Boeing, GE, Google, Goodyear, Verizon and Paycom, just to name a few), and it’s often hard for potential new residents to say no.
First-time visitors are often surprised at how much Oklahoma has to offer.
“We’ve relocated a lot of people from the coasts… I think they’re very pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of activities, including the [Oklahoma] river, the international rowing venue, all of the public artwork, the theater, the shopping,” said Steve Hendrickson, Director of Government Operations, The Boeing Company.
From a cost competitive environment and business-friendly policies to an exceptional quality of life and low cost of living, Oklahoma has what businesses and employees want and need to have a thriving operation.
From outdoor adventure to the arts, music and entertainment, Oklahoma is a perfect place to live, work and play.
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