Downtown Oklahoma

Oklahoma Sees ‘Tremendous Growth’ in New, Existing Companies

by Kari Williams for Business Facilities

The past year was one of “tremendous growth” for Oklahoma, according to Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell.

“Through Commerce-led initiatives, we supported growth in existing Oklahoma companies, the very bedrock of our economic landscape, and welcomed many new businesses to the state,” Pinnell said. “It was a year that will impact Oklahoma communities for generations to come.”

The Oklahoma Innovation Expansion Program and the Business Expansion Incentive Program were key in supporting businesses, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (Commerce), which awarded a total $13.5 million to more than 175 businesses.

More than 40 companies received grants through the Business Expansion Incentive Program, the department said.

Commerce also recently unveiled its Supporting Industrial Transformation and Economic Success (SITES) Ready Program, which, focuses on assessing site and community readiness and participating communities receive recommendations from a consulting firm to “improve and market community assets.”

The program already has secured “a significant boost” of $178 million for infrastructure improvements statewide, according to Commerce.

Already in 2024, Stardust Power Inc., a development-stage manufacturer of battery-grade lithium products, selected the Southside Industrial Park in Muskogee, Okla., for its new refinery. The company could receive up to $257 million in state and federal incentives and expects to break ground in the first half of 2024.

“As we see more energy manufacturers moving to our state, due in part to our competitive, performance-based incentives, Stardust Power’s new lithium refinery will create hundreds of new jobs while cementing Oklahoma’s place as the best state in the nation for critical mineral manufacturing,” said Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.

SET YOUR SITES ON OKLAHOMA

As the state’s leading economic development agency assisting communities and businesses with opportunities for legacy success, Commerce remains committed to addressing site development needs across the state.

Launched in February 2023, the Supporting Industrial Transformation and Economic Success (SITES) Program represents a $780 million commitment to address statewide site infrastructure needs to meet the demand of existing businesses, as well as companies looking to establish operations in Oklahoma.

“Through the SITES Program, we have a tremendous opportunity to support local communities by removing economic barriers for site improvements,” said Hopper Smith Brigadier General (ret.), Executive Director of Commerce. “Oklahoma is quickly becoming a destination for companies and site selectors because of our pro-business policies and innovative infrastructure support programs.”

This initiative, primarily funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity (PREP) Fund, targets crucial site availability and preparation challenges. In 2023, eight ARPA-funded projects and 14 PREP-backed initiatives were selected, paving the way for vital improvements on designated sites totaling $148 million in site-specific funds.

Notably, an additional $29.95 million from the unallocated PREP funding was awarded to 19 projects in 16 communities through a competitive grant process, emphasizing support for industrial parks, airports, and ports. The SITES Program reaffirms Commerce’s dedication to driving sustainable economic growth and fostering resilient communities statewide.

Additionally, in July 2023, Commerce opened applications for the Oklahoma Strategic Industrial Development Enhancement (SIDE) Act, which addresses the needs of rural industrial parks by facilitating construction of railroad infrastructure. Commerce allocated $11.8 million in tax credits to be awarded to 13 qualifying projects in the program’s first year. The tax credits will facilitate $60.8 million in capital investment and assist in 210 new jobs associated with the projects announced in 2023. Communities will have another opportunity to apply for the SIDE Act when the annual application process begins this spring.

In addition to supporting statewide infrastructure needs, Commerce closed out a banner year in 2023 having supported 88 economic projects looking to expand and relocate to Oklahoma, totaling an investment of $3.66 billion and the anticipated addition of 7,000 jobs.

Some notable announcements for 2023 include:

  • Enel North America, through its affiliate 3Sun USA, LLC, selected Inola, OK for the company’s industrial-scale manufacturing facility for innovative, sustainable, and American-made photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.
  • Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney plans to invest $255 million through 2028 in a world-class sustainment facility.
  • WindShape plans to open a 19,000-square-foot, cutting-edge indoor drone testing and validation facility. The announcement represented the Swiss-based company’s decision to relocate their North American headquarters to Oklahoma.
  • Blue Whale, a lithium-ion battery upcycling operation, chose Oklahoma for its next location. The Bartlesville facility will collect and sort used lithium batteries previously used on everything from cell phones and tablets to electric vehicles.   
  • American Airlines, North America plans a multi-million-dollar capital investment in ongoing improvements to the company’s Tulsa location to allow for the creation of more than 300 additional jobs.
  • Georg Fisher Central Plastics broke ground on a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Shawnee, OK. This $30 million investment is anticipated to bring 300 additional full-time jobs to the company’s existing first location.   
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