The U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced Tuesday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is investing nearly $2 million in Oklahoma to support manufacturers and boost workforce training in the medical sector.
A $1 million federal grant was received by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to help with diversification and expand global sales of rural Oklahoma oil and natural gas companies. The proposed project is expected to create higher wage jobs by restructuring business models and targeting new markets.
OCAST is currently working with a company that sells Caterpillar tractor implements designed to help set up oilfield rig sites. That company is exploring how to use the technology on farm tractors in order to boost agricultural development, according to The Oklahoman.
“We have lots of small manufacturers in Oklahoma that are connected to the oil and natural gas supply chain that unfortunately have been through 30 percent to 50 percent layoffs,” said Robert Taylor, director of the development center. “We’ll go in there and help them with the skills they have to put new products in place so they can start hiring some of those people back or at a minimum stop the layoffs.”
OCAST is also partnering with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance and the New Product Development Center at Oklahoma State University to help provide specific, technical guidance to the oil and natural gas services companies, according to the report.
“Supporting innovation in U.S. manufacturing and ensuring that our workers have the skills our businesses need are top priorities for the Economic Development Administration,” said Penny Pritzker, U.S. Commerce Department Secretary. “The EDA grants will accelerate the growth of Oklahoma manufacturing firms and guarantee that the state’s medical workers are trained using state-of-the-art equipment.”
A separate grant of $940,000 was awarded to Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City in order to provide state-of-the-art teaching equipment for the new Allied Health facility.