Booz Allen: OKC great place for ‘us to grow’

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 By: Molly M. Fleming Source: The Journal Record

Oklahoma City was up against Dayton, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., as it vied for 130 new jobs being created by Booz Allen Hamilton, a defense contractor and intelligence firm.

In the end, the company’s Oklahoma City office was the better choice, said Booz Allen Hamilton’s Teresa Lynch.

“You have an environment for us to grow,” Lynch said Tuesday during a meeting of the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust.

The EDT agreed on Tuesday to allow Economic Development Manager Brent Bryant to create a $250,000 performance-based incentive agreement with Booz Allen. If negotiations go well, the final agreement will come back to the EDT in 2019’s first quarter.

Lynch, head of global tax credits and incentives for Booz Allen, said the city’s incentive program helped the company decide to bring the jobs here.

The company also is seeking the state’s Quality Jobs incentive. Under the state program, the state would pay the company up to 5 percent of its new payroll for up to 10 years. Altogether, Booz Allen plans to add 240 jobs in Oklahoma, including 130 in Oklahoma City, over 10 years. Under the state program, Booz Allen must achieve an average wage threshold and $2.5 million in new annual payrolls within three years to qualify. The average annual wage of these new jobs is estimated to be $85,000. The company won’t receive the state incentive until the jobs are created.

Booz Allen has 90 employees in Oklahoma City, with 25,300 employees globally. Lynch said during the presentation that about 95 percent of the company’s work is with the federal government, but it’s expanding into more commercial work. Booz Allen has a contract to assist with the reworking of the B-52 bomber.

Booz Allen Principal Thomas Boyle, referred to as Oklahoma City Employee No. 1, said when he first started working at the company, the recruitment strategy was to get military veterans. Now he’s trying to mix those with knowledge of aircraft with college students who have degrees in cybersecurity, data analytics, or other technology-related degrees. Lynch said the company has already heard from Oklahoma City University about working with its aerospace-focused MBA program.

“Universities in Oklahoma can provide the talent we need,” Boyle said at Tuesday’s meeting. “That level of talent is as high here as anywhere else in the country. We just have to tap it.”

The 130 Oklahoma City jobs will be added over five years. Lynch said there’s enough space in the Leadership Square building, 211 N. Robinson Ave., to house all 130 employees.

During the meeting, EDT member Todd Stone asked if the incentives are still given for federal contract-related jobs. For example, if the contract is only for a year, he wondered if the addition of people would still qualify for the incentive. Bryant said his office doesn’t get into too much detail on why the jobs are added. The company can’t have less than 90 employees as it grows. But if extra jobs come up, then it still counts, no matter if it’s contract-related.

Boyle said the company has had steady growth for the last 10 years. Now he wants to be able to have more magnitude to meet clients’ long-term sustainable needs.

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