BF: What is a recent relocation or expansion project in Oklahoma you’d like to tell us about?
Kisling: In June, USA Rare Earth announced its plans to invest $100 million in Stillwater, OK, to develop a manufacturing facility. This is a remarkable announcement as it will be the first rare earth metal and manufacturing facility in the Americas, and it points to the larger potential for our state as companies look to onshore more aspects of production and operation.
This is a great step forward as the U.S. and other countries look to decrease dependence on China for critical rare earth element production and will also aid in advancing U.S. manufacturing capacity.
BF: What is a program or incentive making a difference for business in Oklahoma?
Kisling: Access to workforce continues as a top concern for companies globally. Oklahoma offers multiple industry-specific workforce tax credits that not only help companies looking to hire, but also benefit employees, incentivizing them to live and work in the state. Currently, we have workforce tax credits in three of our growth industries—aerospace, automotive, and software/cybersecurity.
The Aerospace Industry Engineer Workforce Tax Credit is one of our most successful incentives to date. Aerospace companies hiring engineers can receive a tax credit 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 can receive a tax credit of $5,000 per year.
BF: What does the future hold for Oklahoma?
Kisling: Oklahoma is growing, both economically and in population. I find our population growth to be particularly exciting as states continue to struggle with workforce shortages. We know that growth is going to be essential to stay in the game, and we are ready to capitalize on the momentum we have.
While population data tends to be slow to report, we know that Oklahoma’s population growth in 2020 and 2021 significantly outpaced the national population growth, and our net migration was 15th overall with approximately 25,000 new residents coming to the state. We netted 8,500 new people from California, another 7,300 from Texas, and 1,500 from Colorado. In all, we had a positive net migration from 33 states and those new people spread across 58 of our 77 counties.