by Governor Kevin Stitt for Tulsa World’s Outlook 2020
In my first year as governor, I have been impressed and inspired by the team of leaders who are working in unison with the state to bring the world to Oklahoma and Oklahoma to the world.
Our shared mission is already demonstrating great results in the Tulsa and northeast region of the state. From Milo’s Tea and Conner Industries making investments in Tulsa to Google’s latest investment in Pryor and J-M Farms’ $10 million expansion in Miami, Oklahoma, economic “wins” are diverse in both location and industry.
In 2018, projected new investment in northeast Oklahoma was just more than $572 million, with an average wage of nearly $40,000. In 2019, economic development announcements in the region added up to more than $1 billion in projected new investment and an average wage of $54,420. With this increase in investment, we are headed in the right direction.
It is also critical that we bring in jobs that offer Oklahomans increased opportunity and a better quality of life.
In northeast Oklahoma, in particular, we are seeing impressive growth in the sectors of aerospace and defense, as well as paper manufacturing.
American Airlines continues to increase work at its Tulsa facility, showing a confidence in the area’s workforce.
In June, Sofidel will host the grand opening of its $360 million manufacturing plant in Inola. This plant represents the largest manufacturing investment the state has seen in recent years and highlights that Oklahoma can compete on a global scale. These are all in addition to Kimberly-Clark’s $120 million investment in its Jenks facility.
Northeast Oklahoma has many advantages, including excellent quality of life, low cost of doing business, low tax burden, an abundance of natural resources and honest, hard-working people. These are strengths that help us to aggressively recruit new job creators into the region and work to expand local businesses — rural and metro alike.
When I speak to job creators looking to relocate, the best compliment I consistently receive is that Oklahoma is known for its collaborative environment across our federal delegation, the state and municipalities. Thanks to our one-stop-shop in the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, we have a track record of making site selection simpler by streamlining processes and focusing on relationships.
As we enter 2020, we are off to a strong start. Thanks to the collaboration between my administration and our hard-working legislators, we are now equipped with innovative tax credit tools and the largest Closing Fund in state history that allows us to focus on bringing the best workforce to Oklahoma. We have also launched the new Oklahoma Works Together initiative, which brings a collaborative, localized and data-driven approach to strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce efforts.
As governor, I want to leverage this progress. I am excited about the Commerce Department’s recruitment efforts toward entrepreneurs and business startups. It is important we create a culture that attracts innovators and retains investment dollars in Oklahoma. Startup and growth companies are essential to a healthy and growing economy.
I am laser focused on becoming top 10 in the nation for GDP growth, and the success of northeast Oklahoma is essential to reaching that goal.
There is no better time in our state’s history than now.