In the first half of 2019, 38 businesses have announced plans to make investments in Oklahoma. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses the reason for this wave of investments and the potential economic impact on the state.
Richard Bassett: You're listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Richard Bassett and joining me is Russell Ray, editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for joining me today, Russell. It's good to speak to you again.
Russell Ray: It's good to be here, Rich. Thanks for having me.
Bassett: In the first half of 2019, 38 businesses have announced plans to make investments in Oklahoma. Journal Record reporter Steve Metzer writes that, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the new investments are valued at nearly $1.44 billion and will be spread across 17 counties. Why this sudden wave of investments?
Ray: Well, it's the result of what state officials describe as a more proactive marketing and recruiting effort. Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen was quick to give credit to staff members who reached out to hundreds of companies. Kouplen said Oklahoma has a lot to offer business investors including low business cost low real estate cost and a skilled workforce.
Bassett: And Commerce Department officials estimate that these investments will create more than 3,100 new jobs in Oklahoma with average salaries of around $61,000.
Ray: That's right. In addition, the state can point to an economic growth rate of 3.9% in the first quarter of this year and that's the sixth highest growth rate in the nation.
Bassett: So, I'd like to discuss a few of the companies making these investments. Starting in Claremore where aircraft parts manufacturer MST Manufacturing plans to create 100 jobs over three years that will pay, on average, 10% higher than the city's current median income.
Ray: That's right. And this essentially qualifies MST for the state's Quality Jobs Program. That's a tax incentive program that offsets 5% of new payroll costs. They've already hired 22 people and they plan to hire more skilled professionals. The company plans to occupy three buildings totaling 52,000 square feet where workers will manufacture parts for clients such as Boeing, Gulfstream, Lockheed Martin and Spirit AeroSystem.
Bassett: So several other aerospace related companies are investing as well including U.K. Based Cobham Mission Systems, which plans to build a customer support facility at Tinker Air Force Base.
Ray: Yes, That's correct. Cobham Missions Systems is a contractor with offices in Midwest City. The company provides equipment for Tinker's KC-46 air refueling program. And Airflow Solutions is another company making an investment in the Sooner State. Airflow is a provider of composite aircraft structures and repair and support services.
Bassett: So the aerospace industry is responsible for approximately $43.7 billion dollars of annual economic activity in Oklahoma. But other companies mentioned in Steve's article reflect efforts by the Commerce Department to diversify the state's economy.
Ray: Yes, so one company investing in Oklahoma is involved in web design, system integration and workflow automation, facial recognition and artificial intelligence. And there are other companies like that making investments in the state.
Bassett: Russell Ray is editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for speaking with me today, Russell.
Ray: My pleasure, Richard. Thank you.
Bassett: KGOU and The Journal Record collaborate each week on the Business Intelligence Report. You can follow us both on social media. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @journalrecord and @kgounews. This conversation along with previous episodes of the Business Intelligence Report are available on our website, KGOU.org. For KGOU and the Business Intelligence Report, I'm Richard Bassett.
As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.