Oklahoma’s rising aerospace industry to be showcased in EuropePublished: Friday, October 15, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record
Oklahoma will stake a claim as the “MRO Capital of the World” when the state is showcased this month at a major international aerospace trade show planned in Amsterdam.
Oklahoma will be in the mix among some 350 exhibitors from around the world ranging from Regent Aerospace, a provider of aircraft interior maintenance based in Valencia, California, to J.B. Roche Ltd., a manufacturer of inflatable aircraft maintenance shelters headquartered in Cork, Ireland.
Representatives from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and a number of state-based aerospace companies have planned to attend MRO Europe, slated for Oct. 19-21. They’ll take an ambitious agenda to the Netherlands, but also the state’s rising reputation in the aerospace industry. Oklahoma is home to two of the world’s largest aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, centers – the American Airlines Maintenance and Engineering Center in Tulsa and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker Air Force Base, which identifies as the U.S. Defense Department’s largest air depot maintenance facility.
More than 1,100 aerospace entities are based in Oklahoma, according to the Commerce Department, directly employing more than 120,000 people. Companies and other entities are involved not only with MRO but also with research and development. Oklahoma State University was the first university in the nation to establish a Ph.D. program focused on unmanned aerial system design. The University of Oklahoma offers a master’s-level program specifically designed to cultivate leadership and managerial skills for people in aerospace and defense industries.
Nine Oklahoma colleges and universities in all offer degrees and certifications in aerospace, and a half-dozen technology centers around the state provide aerospace-focused training and testing.
Aerospace not only generates tremendous lift for the Oklahoma economy estimated at more than $44 billion annually; it’s identified as the state’s fastest-growing industry sector.
According to commerce leaders, the Sooner State could – and should – capture the attention of professionals planning to attend MRO Europe. Increasing shipping costs and business timelines made more difficult by the pandemic should put Oklahoma in a favorable position for attracting global companies interesting in shortening supply chains, Commerce Director of Business Development Jennifer Springer said.
“We have always offered an extremely competitive cost of doing business,” Springer said, “but the continued price increases and delays in international shipping are providing further motivation for creating a more localized supply chain to keep operations running efficiently.”
Companies also should be attracted to Oklahoma because of its tax rates, which are among the lowest in the nation, and its comparatively low cost of living. Additionally, Oklahoma offers some of the most competitive and straightforward business incentive programs in the United States, including an engineer tax credit established specifically to benefit aerospace industry employees and employers.
Representatives from Oklahoma should be able to well demonstrate to conference attendees the state’s capacity for meeting MRO demands as well as other needs of the aerospace sector, officials said.
“Our business team is excited to return to a more traditional trade show model,” Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling said. “We adapted well to the virtual shows made necessary by the pandemic, but there were certainly challenges and limitations – especially with global shows when participants are from numerous countries in widely differing time zones.”