Lawmakers Approve Plans to Attract Auto Makers, Aerospace Firms to Oklahoma – Public Radio Tulsa

Oklahoma hopes to attract more business from auto makers and aerospace companies.

Lawmakers approved a slate of incentives to start next year: a 50 percent credit for tuition reimbursement and up to 10 percent on salaries for engineers, along with a $5,000 credit for those engineers themselves.

Rep. Scott Fetgatter said it’s to land an undisclosed company set to invest up to $1 billion in the state and need as many as 2,500 workers.

“Right now, we’re one of the top two states that they’re looking at to come to, and we feel like this opportunity will maybe put us over the top,” Fetgatter said.

Lawmakers also green-lighted a dedicated aerospace booster in the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Nearly half a million dollars in state funding has specifically been allocated for Aerospace Economic Services, or ACES, a division focused on bringing in more aerospace contracts and coming up with a strategic plan.

Rep. Tess Teague said while the state will be doing a lot of leg work for companies, ACES does not constitute a corporate subsidy.

“It’s not a tax credit, it’s not a tax exemption, it’s nothing like that. It’s literally funding a program using money that we have on hand … and I would say that’s being good stewards of our dollars, making a very small investment for what could be a very, very big ROI,” Teague said.

Teague said a similar program in Utah resulted in $2 billion in new aerospace investment.

Rep. Forrest Bennett said he supports diversifying the state’s economy, but social aspects of the state are what really deter businesses from coming here.

“I’m sad for those who will come to the state of Oklahoma and realize how unwelcoming we are because you adhere to a different religion or you were born loving someone that

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