From Expansion Solutions Magazine
Even with global supply chain issues and uncertain global markets, Oklahoma is finding new ways to grow and diversify its economy and workforce.
“Oklahoma was among the very first states to fully re-open for business in 2020 and we entered 2021 with incredible momentum,” said Scott Mueller, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development. “Our pipeline is filled with companies who want what we’re selling – a state that works with companies to help them get up and running and find growth opportunities in the future.”
“In Oklahoma we give companies the freedom to do business their way and that shows in the interest we’re seeing from companies and an impressive influx of new residents,” said Brent Kisling, Commerce Executive Director. “Since April 2020, nearly 28,000 people have moved to Oklahoma. Every corner of our state has something to offer both in terms of job opportunities and life experiences. We are excited to welcome more companies and individuals.”
In the past year, Oklahoma has taken significant steps to support businesses in a challenging and ever-changing global marketplace. Supply Chain strengthening and development took center stage in 2021 as the world continued to deal with supply chain issues from the COVID-19 pandemic. Oklahoma responded by launching Connex Oklahoma, a partnership with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, that provides a free supply chain database tool for the manufacturing industry. Since its launch in April 2021, more than 400 Oklahoma companies are utilizing the platform.
And recent major announcements prove that Oklahoma is at the top of the list for companies. During 2021, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce worked to bring more than 7,500 new jobs and $1.8 billion in new private investment to the state, covering eight industries. Some of the projects contributing to these numbers include the following major announcements:
- Canoo: In June 2021, Canoo, a manufacturer of breakthrough electric vehicles (EVs) announced a 400-acre site at the MidAmerica Industrial Park complex in Pryor as the site for its U.S. mega microfactory. It will house a paint shop, body shop and general assembly plant. Canoo will create an estimated 2,000 high paying jobs and invest more than $1 billion dollars. In November, the company announced it is relocating its headquarters from California to neighboring Arkansas and will expand its Oklahoma operations to include new R&D, software development and customer support and financing centers. The investments are expected to bring at least 700 additional high paying jobs to the state.
- Carvana: In September 2021, Carvana announced plans for a new distribution and inspection/reconditioning facility in Oklahoma City. Carvana will add approximately $45 million in new investment and up to 500 new jobs in Oklahoma. The nearly 200,000-square-foot auto detail shop is under construction, where used cars will be reconditioned and made ready to sell. It’s one of 10 inspection and reconditioning centers Carvana has going up across the country.
- TAT Technologies: TAT Technologies is a strategic global partner to leading players in the aerospace industry and specializes in innovative commercial, defense, OEM and MRO solutions. TAT is the parent company to TAT LIMCO located in Tulsa, which is recognized as a world leader in thermal management solutions with a primary focus on the aerospace industry. In 2021, TAT announced it is relocating its headquarters from Israel and co-locating with Limco in Tulsa. The move will result in more than 200 new jobs and an investment of over $17 million.
During the Covid pandemic, Oklahoma launched several programs to support businesses impacted. The success of these programs led to the creation of a permanent program designed to support Oklahoma businesses looking to grow and diversity their operations. During 2021, the Oklahoma Innovation Expansion Program awarded $7.74 million in grants to help 108 Oklahoma companies develop new products or increase capacity. The funds facilitated $49.6 million in projects and led to the creation of 680 new jobs.
And the state’s “open for business” policy brought new growth opportunities for Oklahoma’s film and music industry. Governor Kevin Stitt signed the “Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021” which increased incentive funds available to films and television series. Recent productions in the state include Focus Feature’s “Stillwater,” Lionsgate’s “American Underdog,” A24’s “Minari,” FX/Disney’s “Reservation Dogs” and the forthcoming Apple Studios’ “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
“This past year, Oklahoma’s economy has bounced back in a big way and continues to improve,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “In Oklahoma, companies find freedom to do business their way. This is a message that resonates as companies find themselves facing more and more unnecessary regulations and limitations. As we forge ahead in 2022, I am excited for the momentum we’ve built and the potential that lies ahead.”