“From a job’s standpoint, manufacturing is the second most important sector in total number of jobs, and also has the highest average wage,” said Kathleen Miller, head of research for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. She was talking about NE Oklahoma at the Rural Economic Summit that I talked at last week in Okmulgee, OK.
With 64,105 jobs at an average wage of $39,602 and over 60 firms that have more than 200 employees, the manufacturing sector is a key reason why NE Oklahoma is such a vibrant region. Recent passing of a Right To Work (RTW) Law, improving worker’s compensation legislation and increased emphasis in economic development all are poising Oklahoma and in particular NE Oklahoma for an increase in manufacturing in the state.
Oklahoma has identified and qualified a number of sites for mega projects, like auto assembly plants. I told the audience that while I didn’t really care for a mega project in a small town because they suddenly became the “800 pound gorilla” that can be wonderful when times are good, but create havoc when times turned bad. However, if Oklahoma could recruit a big project like an auto plant to Tulsa or Oklahoma City the spin-offs for the smaller towns could be tremendous. I cited the example of Mississippi which recruited in a Nissan plant that has resulted in over 20 smaller parts manufacturers locating in small towns all over the state.
Miller pointed out a number of manufacturing sub-clusters in the region including: Valve & Hose Fitting; Oil Field Equipment; Sporting Goods; Plastic Pipe; Plastic Film; Pumping Equipment; and Power Boiler. Keep your eye on NE OK.