Governor is enthusiastic about Oklahoma's aerospace sector
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is more than just a Federal Aviation Agency-certificated pilot. He’s a big-time cheerleader and recruiter for Oklahoma’s aerospace economy.
“I’m a huge fan of aerospace and aviation,” he said.
Speaking to several hundred attendees at last October’s Oklahoma Aerospace Forum, Stitt said the sky is the limit for the second-largest sector in the state economy.
“I am focused on ensuring that we are investing in this industry,” Stitt said. “We’re on the cutting edge of a lot of things happening in aerospace and we want to continue to grow and develop it. Aerospace, aviation and defense is a huge part of our workforce and our economy.”
Stitt said aerospace is the fastest-growing sector of the state economy.
“Since 2015 we have made 5500 new job announcements in this economic sector with about $1.3 billion in capital investment, state-wide,” he said.
The governor cautioned that the continued growth in aerospace depends on the availability of a qualified workforce. Stitt highlighted Boeing’s efforts to fund research at state universities, as an example.
The company’s agreement with the University of Oklahoma will fund research projects conducted by the Gallogly College of Engineering, the first of which, involving design and development of embedded software, began in February.
The agreement could help drive industry innovation and accelerate research, while elevating the future STEM workforce.
Much like other aerospace companies in Oklahoma, Boeing faces challenges in recruiting enough employees.
But Stitt remains optimistic about the availability of a quality workforce.
“We’re so proud that Boeing has found success here,” he said. “And I’m not surprised. Because Oklahoma’s workforce is second to none.”
Marketing the state at major events like the Paris Air Show is also important for the future of the aerospace sector in Oklahoma, according to Stitt.
“The Paris Air Show was an opportunity for us to get in front of this industry,” he said. “They stacked my schedule from morning ‘til night with about 15 appointments per day, but it was a really great time for us to showcase our great state and tell them about our workforce.”
Stitt promised the attendees that they – and the aerospace economic sector - have his full support.
“We are going to continue to invest and make sure that this industry is thriving and that you have everything that you need,” he said. “We have several tax credits and different manufacturing tax credits that we’re committed to as we continue to develop this workforce. So I want you to know you have my support.”