High-Tech Heats up Oklahoma
Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Sandy Pratt, Deputy Director of Business Services, Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Susan Avery (Southern Tech Sites 2008)
Q. What sectors are driving the economic climate in Oklahoma?
A. Alternative energy sectors are expanding. The wind industry is one of the most active targets for technology growth. We are ranked ninth for wind capacity by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Most recently in the Tulsa area, wind tower producer DMI announced a project that will create as many as 450 jobs. Also, switch grass is being explored as a viable cellulosic fuel source.
Another technology growth area is information technology and software development. The recently announced Google data center - which will be locating on a BuildNow site at the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor - involved a $600 million investment and a projected 200 jobs.
To boost the advanced manufacturing, Oklahoma State University in Tulsa now hosts an Advanced Technology Center that focuses on the development of the next generation of composites and materials, and especially concentrating on aerospace, the largest industry in the state. The Department of Commerce also awarded grants to three Advanced Manufacturing Centers of Excellence.
For a niche that is unique to Oklahoma, we're home to two "Fab Labs," a micro-manufacturing environment that uses advanced materials to enable prototyping of products. We have a mobile lab in Ponca City and another in the junior high school system in Clarmore.
Bioscience has been a boon for the state's central and northeast regions. Categories in this cluster include animal health, information technology and cyber security, meteorological and weather science, nanotechnology and advanced materials, plant science and genomics, sensors and sensor technology. Other strengths include autoimmune diseases and immunology, cardiology and cardiovascular research, microbiology, infectious diseases, plant genomics and transgenics for crops and forage improvement, as well as vision research and ophthalmic neuroscience.
Q. What types of assistance are available?
A. Close to $7 million was authorized this year to provide growth capital for research and development projects within the $1 billion Edge Endowment Fund. The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology also is working together with i2E (Innovation to Enterprise) to encourage technology startups.