Oklahoma should be top of mind with automotive part company executives considering expanding their operations within or entering the U.S. market.
With the automotive industry in the U.S. moving increasingly westward, the Sooner State’s renowned reputation for innovation and ingenuity, combined with its highly skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing workforce, and a newly established Automotive Engineer Workforce Tax Credit offer exciting new business opportunities for the automotive industry.
Here are some key things to consider:
* Oklahoma is centrally located and accessible by air, rail, road, and water with the most inland ice-free ports in the U.S. Offers easy access to Midwest and South East USA (location where most OEMs are presently located). In fact, within a 24-hour drive, you’ll reach every single OEM manufacturing facility in the USA.
* Oklahoma’s new Automotive Engineer Workforce Tax Credit allows automotive companies hiring engineers in a variety of fields to receive tax credits equal to 5% of the compensation paid to an engineer and 10% if the engineer graduated from an Oklahoma college or university, plus another credit of up to 50% of the tuition reimbursed to an employee. Additionally, the engineer hired receives a tax credit of $5,000 per year.
* Oklahoma is a constitutional Right to Work state with low unemployment insurance taxes and programs significantly reducing hiring and training start-up costs.
* Oklahoma’s key industry sectors; aerospace and defense industry and oil and gas each employ 120,000 workers respectively. These workforces offer a baseline of skills and knowledge that can easily be adapted and retrained to meet specific needs of auto manufacturers.
* Oklahoma CareerTech, located across 169 sites throughout the state, with more than 7,500 enrollments annually, offers training in specific pathways aligning with the automotive workforce demand. Some of those pathways include ASE technician, CNC, machinist, diesel service, metal fabrication, electronics and welding, to name a few.
* The State’s workforce training program customizes solutions for companies investing in Oklahoma to meet skilled labor demands. The conversation begins with defining a company’s exact workforce needs. From pre-employment, industry-specific and customized training, the state integrates various work-based learning experiences (including German apprenticeship -like programs) with its industry aligned curriculum to create a pipeline of workers for current and future needs.
* Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) has established a program that places qualified interns within OK companies to test drive and ultimately recruit. The OCAST program is already placing candidates within companies in OK servicing the auto industry.
Tesla is one automotive company of note that has already placed Oklahoma on its radar. Tulsa is presently in the running for Tesla’s new automotive manufacturing plant; it and Austin are presently the top contenders for Tesla’s Cybertruck Gigafactory.
The creativity and ingenuity demonstrated to date by Oklahomans to gain the attention of Elon Musk to bring Tesla to Tulsa has been quite amazing. Here’s what the Tesla Owners Club of Tulsa shared with Tesla executives earlier this week.
A second video of non-Oklahomans sharing why they chose to settle in Tulsa was shared with Tesla to overcome any misperceptions that folks might have about the state, especially as it relates to quality of life. Time and time again executives that have moved to Oklahoma from Coastal states like CA and VA for their work (such as the employees of Boeing and Verizon respectively) have been pleasantly surprised by the lifestyle positives that Oklahoma has to offer; whether it be its affordable housing, great schools and universities for their kids, a vast array of outdoor activities and cultural offerings as well as a wide selection of restaurants offering global fares and dishes!
With Covid disrupting the lives of practically everyone under the sun and remote working becoming the new normal, the need to live and work in major metropolises seems to have evaporated. In a post Covid world you’re most likely going to see a growing exodus of people leaving major cities for smaller ones where the quality of life is much better. Tulsa has already banked on this trend via its Tulsa Remote program to attract remote workers. Now the hope is that Oklahoma’s best kept secret is finally out of the box and that this message is received loud and clear by Tesla and other companies.
Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum couldn’t better state why Tulsa would be a perfect choice for Elon Musk. “Oklahoma is home to a long line of pioneers and innovators such as the aviator Wiley Post who invented the pressurized suit that would make high altitude flights possible and professors at the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology who in 1990 invented the NEXRAD, the next generation radar that’s used today to track weather around the globe. Tulsa is a city that doesn’t stifle entrepreneurs – we revere them!”