Page 1

2017 Issue 2

D e ve l o p , I n n ov a t e , P r o s p e r

Oklahoma Incubators Accelerate Startup Businesses’ Success

Incubator success stories over the past year p.3

STATE OF ENTREPRENEURS Find Business Guidance at Oklahoma’s Certified Incubators

Oklahoma Department of Commerce certifies incubators and assures standards of excellence. Since certifying incubators, began the State of Oklahoma has benefited from an increase in the number of start-up and expanding small businesses. These businesses have created jobs and enhanced economic activity in the Oklahoma communities in which they are located.

726 149

full-time jobs provided by incubator tenants


small businesses are currently leasing space in Oklahoma’s small business incubators

36 certified small business

incubators are operating in Oklahoma. Tenants range from small service companies to high-tech research and development operations.

726 small businesses have located in an incubator, throughout the life of Oklahoma’s certified incubator program.

409 have graduated from the program or relocated to a larger facility.


OF INCUBATOR CLIENTS GRADUATE EACH YEAR A business incubator’s main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding.

These incubator graduates have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize new technologies, and strengthen local and national economies.


Oklahomans are currently employed by incubator businesses that remain in the state after graduating.

Contact ODOC’s Small Business During 2016, Oklahoma incubator managers were asked to complete a questionnaire to document their activities for the current reporting period. These results are based on the information received from the responding incubator managers.

Specialist for more information at 405-815-5143 or email

Oklahoma Incubators Accelerate Startup Businesses’ Success Incubator success stories over the past yearOur clients may be all across the globe, but I plan to keep the business headquarters in Stillwater. Designer’s Ink is going to be able to move to the next level at Meridian. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to grow this business. ~ Jeff Dillon Owner and Designer, Designer’s Ink Graphic & Building Designs LLC Designer’s Ink Graphic & Building Designs LLC younger Dillon rescued the textbook and quickly read it from Meridian Technology Center for Business Development, cover to cover. By age 16, Dillon had designed his first house. Stillwater, Okla. In 1992, Dillon enrolled at Oklahoma State University to Designer’s Ink Graphic & Building Designs LLC, is making pursue an architecture degree. After one year on campus, he its mark on the computer aided drafting industry across the had the opportunity to assist with the reconstruction of a local globe. crime scene. The experience marked an end to one career and the beginning of another; Dillon joined the Stillwater With projects ranging from modest home remodels in Police Department full-time in 1994. Stillwater to large-scale commercial projects in the Bahamas and Angola, Africa, company owner/designer Jeff Dillon is He continued to work for clients in his spare time, teaching giving design ideas new dimension using Chief Architect himself Chief Architect Premier along the way – and Designer’s Premier X8, a professional 3D building design software. Ink business continued to grow. With retirement inching closer, Dillon decided to relocate his office from his home to “When clients work with Designer’s Ink they are able to see the Meridian Technology Center for Business Development exactly what the end product will look like,” Dillon explained. – and with the new address, new full-time designer Kevin “From tile color and texture to moving furniture around in Walthall was added to the company. their living room, I’m able to create a 3D version of a client’s project.” “When it was just me I had to turn jobs down because I didn’t have the time to take on so many new projects,” Dillion In addition to bringing ideas to life with high-quality, 3D said. “Bringing Kevin on board really strengthened what the renderings and “walk through” videos, Chief Architect Premier company could offer. Kevin has a degree in graphic design X8 generates a materials list for builders and produces and nearly two decades of experience in the construction industry standard construction documents that include and building materials industry. His experience, combined site plans, floor plans, section details, electrical plans, roof with just having someone who could work full-time for the layouts, schedules and both interior and exterior elevations. company, has been a game changer.” “Knowing all these elements allows a builder to make a more accurate estimate of the project,” Dillion said. “There is a tremendous cost savings due to fewer change orders during construction. Clients know exactly what they are getting and builders know exactly what they are building.” Dillon, the son of a building contractor, started Designer’s Ink in 1993 after designing houses as a hobby, but his love for design began when he was 14 years old. His brother had taken a drafting class in high school. When the year was over, he threw his drafting textbook in the trash. Though the subject wasn’t a hit with one Dillon boy, it was for another. The

To date, Designer’s Ink has served clients in 17 states and across two continents. “Clients from all over the world find us on our website and ask us to design their projects,” he said. His designs were twice featured on Chief Architect’s website, and he frequently assists other program users on the software’s nuances. Though he is unsure what the future holds for his company, Dillon wants to remain true to his roots. As his company continues to grow his new location at Meridian Tech gives him the perfect opportunity to hire graduates from OSU’s Architectural Drafting Program.


“Our clients may be all across the globe, but I plan to keep the business headquarters in Stillwater,” he said. “Designer’s Ink is going to be able to move to the next level at Meridian. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to grow this business.” The Meridian Technology Center for Business Development assists in the business growth and development process by providing essential space and services for business incubation. From management guidance to technical assistance and consulting tailored to young, growing companies, the Center encourages development by working closely with clients on a progression plan that has measurable goals to assist the company in being self-sustaining within a designated time period. Aspire Oklahoma, LLC Center for Business Development at Autry Technology Center, Enid, Okla. Owner Sandra Reese-Keck of Aspire Oklahoma, LLC utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to work with children, families and adults. Aspire Oklahoma clients receive skilled coaching from Reese-Keck, aiding understanding of the effects behavioral issues have on one’s daily functioning. In 2012, Aspire Oklahoma was merely two women pursuing different career paths, both desiring to control their own resources and to create something of lasting value to benefit future generations. So, Reese-Keck and her former business partner, went to Autry Technology’s Center for Business Development for advice and guidance. “We had no business starting a business,” said a laughing Reese-Keck. “I was an educator and was working on licensing to become a Behavior Analyst. But I am a grandmother and wanted the flexibility of working for myself. The Center was the place I needed to be.” Reese-Keck’s commitment to a three-year lease in the Center’s incubator provided access to office equipment and software, conference rooms, and a team of experts who educate their clients in marketing, financial planning, and business plan writing. In 2015, Aspire Oklahoma graduated from the incubator and moved to their new location in October of that year. ReeseKeck engages clients who wish to pursue careers as Behavior Analysts. Aspire Oklahoma’s current in-state list of 45 clients is growing rapidly. To enhance client services, Reese-Keck is pursuing additional certification to maximize her skills. “I want to educate Northwest Oklahoma (residents) about what Applied Behavior Analysis

Owner Sandra Reese-Keck of Aspire Oklahoma, LLC utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to work with children, families and adults. is and the disparity in services for families,” she said. “I want to help the most people I can. Aspire wouldn’t be doing what we are doing without the Center.” McMahon Marketing eTec, Norman, Okla. McMahon Marketing, an award-winning, full-service marketing agency, helps businesses dominate their industry marketplace. Serving clients around the globe, McMahon Marketing helps these brands achieve sustainable growth through inbound marketing strategies. Services include social media, blogging, email marketing, graphic, website design and more.   McMahon Marketing has found working in an incubation setting instrumental to success, allowing them to add office space as their team grew. Collaboration was also one of the many perks, having the opportunity to encounter fellow entrepreneurs, start-ups, and businesses on a daily basis. The flexibility and collaborative nature of an incubator helped ensure McMahon Marketing’s early success. McMahon Marketing grew exponentially in its two years at eTec Business Incubator in Norman. In the beginning, the agency had one employee and occupied 108 square feet in the incubator. McMahon grew to seven full time employees and 1,400 square feet at the conclusion of the company’s time at eTec. In 2016, the agency added five high paying jobs, attained a 40% growth rate and reached $1 million in revenue. McMahon recently relocated to its own facility north of The University of Oklahoma on Campus Corner.

Author and CEO Korey McMahon of McMahon Marketing, an award-winning, full-service marketing agency, helps businesses dominate their industry marketplace.

Owner Allison Conti,, Watkins-Conti Products a company devoted to the innovation and development of affordable, effective solutions for common life-altering difficulties.

The agency’s unique approach to digital marketing has earned them a reputation built on excellence. McMahon Marketing was awarded the 2016 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon Small Business of the year, among other recognitions.    Today, author and CEO Korey McMahon speaks to audiences around the world on various industry marketing topics – helping thousands of business owners develop a marketing strategy built on the solid foundation of results. McMahon Marketing now boasts a portfolio of more than 40 retaining clients and continues to help businesses steadily increase their sales while building a timeless brand.

Watkins-Conti Products was offered initial funding from an Oklahoma not-for-profit organization specializing in tech and medical-related startups. Conti elected instead to raise first round funding on her own and will begin the first phase of FDA clinical trials at OU Medical in January 2017. After completion of the feasibility study at OU, another round of funding will be needed for actual clinical trials. Conti is working with New York and San Francisco banking firms on second round funding; OU Medical and UCLA are under consideration for the clinical trials’ next phase. The product will be through the FDA approval process in early 2018.

Watkins-Conti Products The Launch Pad at Francis Tuttle Edmond, Okla. Watkins-Conti Products, Inc. is devoted to the innovation and development of affordable, effective solutions for common life-altering difficulties. Owner Allison Conti, who refers to herself as a ‘thirty-something mother transitioning into a thirty-something executive’, suffered from a disorder affecting approximately 500 million women worldwide known as Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Conti invented and patented a device that addresses both the symptoms and causes of the disorder, prevalent in women who have borne children and maintain an athletic or active lifestyle. Current over-thecounter products, which represent a substantial portion of profit for companies such as Kimberly Clark, only address SUI symptoms, not the full extent of this debilitating women’s issue.

This young mother has mastered the patent process, identified FDA approved manufacturing facilities, dissected the complex FDA approval process and assembled an advisory council that includes some of the top experts in this particular field of medicine. “I am so thankful that I found the Launch Pad at Francis Tuttle,” said Conti. “The staff has been instrumental in the development of Watkins-Conti Products, Inc. to date. We have been able to effectively author and execute our business plan and utilize local resources that we otherwise would not have been aware of as a result of their direction and counsel. The surprisingly affordable offices and beautiful conference rooms make us look professional and feel proud to hold meetings in the facility. I am honored to be a part of this respected program.” They are currently running a clinical trail. Visit the website for more information:


Oklahoma Selected for Cultivating Place in Main Street Communities Trainings

The National Main Street Center, Inc. (NMSC) and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) are pleased to announce the five states selected for the 2017 round of Cultivating Place in Main Street Communities trainings: Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. NMSC and PPS will partner with Louisiana Main Street, Michigan Main Street, Oklahoma Main Street, Pennsylvania Downtown Center, and Wyoming Main Street to convene 35 communities in each state— with the potential to reach up to 175 communities! Trainings will take place between March and October of this year. “Oklahoma is proud to be one of five states chosen to receive training in placemaking,” said Buffy Hughes, Oklahoma Main Street Center director. “Placemaking is an essential strategy for Main Street communities. We are hopeful this training will empower our communities to further their efforts to improve public spaces and increase the activity in their districts.” Local and regional representatives of federal agencies, partner organizations, and philanthropic foundations will also attend, working with trainers and trainees to identify ways to successfully grow, implement, and sustain placemaking efforts in these states after the training. 2017 will be the second year of the Cultivating Place in Main Street Communities trainings, a series of intensive trainings designed to strengthen and expand Main Street’s capacity for implementing placemaking strategies and public space improvements. (Read a recap on the PPS blog Last year, NMSC and PPS launched this training program in five pilot states: Alabama, Connecticut, Missouri, Montana, and Oregon. Since those trainings, over 40 placemaking projects have been planned or implemented in those five states, with more to come in 2017. The Cultivating Place in Main Street Communities training program is made possible through the generous support of Anne T. and Robert M. Bass.

NASA Awards $166 Million Grant to OU The grant will advance understanding of Earth’s natural exchanges of carbon. The grant is one of the most exceptional in the history of the University and is testimony to the outstanding national stature of our research team. David L. Boren University of Oklahoma, President

The University of Oklahoma has been awarded a five-year, $166 million grant by NASA to advance understanding of Earth’s natural exchanges of carbon between the land, atmosphere and ocean. The primary goals of the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory, led by Berrien Moore, OU Vice President for Weather and Climate Programs, are to monitor plant health and vegetation stress throughout the Americas, and to examine the natural sources and processes that control carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere. “To say this is an extraordinary achievement by Dr. Berrien Moore and our research team is an understatement,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The grant is one of the most exceptional in the history of the University and is testimony to the outstanding national stature of our research team.” The mission will launch on a commercial communications satellite to make observations over the Americas from an orbit of approximately 22,000 miles above the equator. The OU-led geoCARB team will build an advanced payload employing otherwise unused launch and spacecraft capacity to advance science and provide societal benefit. Mission collaborators include the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.; SES Government Solutions Company in Reston, Va.; the Colorado State University in Fort Collins; and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Colleagues and laboratories from France, Australia and Mexico also are contributing to the project.

The mission was competitively selected from 15 proposals submitted to the agency’s second Earth Venture - Mission announcement of opportunity for small orbital investigations of the Earth system.


New and Expanding Companies Annual Report 2016 Programs like Quality Jobs, the investment tax credit, the aerospace industry engineer tax credit and Pooled Finance are really making a difference in the quality of jobs we are able to bring to Oklahoma. We hope to see more of this progress in 2017. Charles Kimbrough Director of Business Development Oklahoma Department of Commerce According to the New and Expanding Companies Annual Report, there were 66 new and expanding business announcements made statewide, totaling over $2.2 billion in new investment in 2016. Fourteen companies were new to Oklahoma. More than 5,200 jobs are expected to eventually be created from this year’s announcements. “The Oklahoma Department of Commerce, its staff and its resources have proven time and time again to be an invaluable tool in our successful recruitment and expansion of business,” said Brien Thorstenberg, CEcD, SVP, Economic Development, Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce. “No organization alone has the resources it needs to successfully recruit and grow its industry base. The resources that the Oklahoma Department of Commerce offers are key to a successful program.” Google’s $1.2 billion expansion in Pryor was the largest investment of the year. Progrexion’s decision to hire 500, plus 400 over five years, is the largest expansion in employment of the year. “A good part of these projects are due, in part, to our ability to use our state economic development tools to grow a robust and diverse state economy. Programs like Quality Jobs, the investment tax credit, the aerospace industry engineer tax credit and Pooled Finance are really making a difference in the quality of jobs we are able to bring to Oklahoma. We hope to see more of this progress in 2017,” Charles Kimbrough, Director of Business Development for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

Many expanding companies in the report participate in the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “Durant Okla. is experiencing its greatest new construction year to-date, “ Tommy Karmer, Executive Director. “This will be the highest in industrial investment in the history of Durant and Bryant County.” Information in this report is collected from a variety of sources including internal Department of Commerce reports, statewide and nationwide newspapers, and company websites. Only companies making public announcements of expansions are included in this report. Retail-only companies, bank branch offices and hospitals are not included in this report. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce does not release individual company investment amounts. Quarterly and annual online versions of this report and more are available at: For more information, questions or a detailed list of companies contact Scott Mauldin: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce publishes a quarterly report of publicly announced new and expanding businesses.




In 2016, there were 66 announcements made statewide, totaling over $2.2 billion in new investment.

5,200 +


More than 5,200 jobs are expected to eventually be created from the 2016 announcements.

COUNTIES WITH NEW AND EXPANDING COMPANIES IN 2016 Bryan Canadian Cleveland Comanche Creek Delaware Garfield Grady Kay Logan Mayes

Muskogee Nowata Oklahoma Ottawa Pawnee Pittsburg Pontotoc Pottawatomie Rogers Seminole Tulsa

Download a full copy of the report:


Construction Finishing on UFPI Shawnee Location Advice for communities seeking new and expanding business from Executive Director for Shawnee Economic Development Foundation. Have a good grasp on your area’s workforce status — the available workforce and the wage comparison information. It is important to be able to tell a site selector what kinds of businesses are already in the area, as well as the training capacities your community, area or region can provide.

Tim Burg, CEcD, Executive Director Shawnee Economic Development Foundation

The City of Shawnee (Pottawatomie County) has a new company nearing completion of the construction and equipment placement of their facility. Universal Forest Products Inc, (UFPI) is constructing a 25,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in the northern portion of Shawnee. The first phase of the project will employ 20 to 25 people, and the company has plans to expand the facility as product demands increase. UFPI has facilities in 80 different US locations with more than 6,500 employees nationwide. Tim Burg, executive director, Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, started working with the site selection staff of UFPI in October of 2013. As the project nears completion, Burg has learned a lot and has advice for other Oklahoma communities seeking new and expanding businesses. •

Be ready by knowing what you have to offer any prospect. That can include knowing what properties are available (land and/or buildings), the zoning of those sites, who controls the property, if utilities are at the site, the capacities of those utilities, the respective contacts for those services and any basic costs that apply. Also, be able to determine if any environmental studies have been completed, and what the access to any transportation infrastructure is.

Have a good grasp on your area’s workforce status — the available workforce and the wage comparison information. It is important to be able to tell a site selector what kinds of businesses are already in the area, as well as the training capacities your community, area or region can provide. Everyone around the US has workforce issues, but for us one of our strengths in not only what

we already have and what we can produce, but also what we have in the workforce pipeline that will help produce skilled workers in the near future. Both shortand long-term workforce goals and plans are critical. •

It is vital that any community be realistic about what kinds of businesses they can attract and also sustain. Lofty goals are a wonderful thing to have, but with limited resources sometimes you need to be honest and focus your time and energy on areas that will provide the greatest return on investment.

The best offense is a good defense. Any good business attraction program begins with a great BR&E effort. For Shawnee, Business Retention and Expansion is the cornerstone of our economic development efforts. Without taking care of what we already have, how can we prove to others that this is a good place for them to locate their business? More often than not a new business prospect wants to speak with an existing plant manager, and if we haven’t been taking care of our existing companies, what kind of a report will that existing plant manager give us? Probably not a good recommendation.

ODOC Takes on Role of State Data Center Census Bureau offers broad range of information to businesses, communities.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) will now operate the State Data Center for the state of Oklahoma. The U.S. Census Bureau’s State Data Center program was created in 1978 to provide a vehicle for the dissemination of Census Bureau information and data to state and local governments. The data centers are partnerships that the Bureau has with each of the states to ensure that data are available locally. As the State Data Center, ODOC will act as a liaison for the Census Bureau in the state. “We want to ensure that Oklahoma is involved in the upcoming 2020 Census,” said Jon Chiappe, Director, Research and Economic Analysis, Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “Census data helps us to identify opportunities that fulfill our mission of prosperous lives and communities for all Oklahomans. Among a myriad of other uses, Census data are used by city planners, entrepreneurs developing business plans and grant writers. Our work is enhanced when these groups succeed and achieve their goals.” Beyond getting the word out about major census data, Oklahoma’s State Data Center will develop data tools and products of special interest to entrepreneurs and business and community leaders. While many people associate the census with the counting of U.S. residents every 10 years, the US Census Bureau actually provides a wide range of information touching many aspects of our society and economy. The bureau does this on varying levels, geographically from the nation and state to local areas including by cities, towns, tribal areas, zip codes and Census Tracts among numerous other geographies. There is no other organization that provides as much information about demographics, businesses, foreign trade, commodity flows, poverty and a myriad of other data topics as the Census Bureau. In fact, many private sector companies that sell data

services often use Census information to build their databases and provide their services. Information distributed through the State Data Center provides social, demographic and economic profiles of the population. These data can be used by entrepreneurs, city planners, state government and within the private sector to make sound civil and business decisions. The information can be found at and will be occasionally featured in this monthly publication. ODOC plans to expand the Research and Data portion of its website to feature pertinent information from the Census Bureau. “The information from the U.S. Census Bureau paints a picture about the region including counts of age, gender, and ethnicity. It also shows educational attainment, household income, poverty, small business and economic information,” said Chiappe. “Our office will work with an active network of partners to disseminate information of use and interest to the public, policy makers, and community and business decision makers.” The Census Bureau compiles and disseminates surveys, including the American Community Survey, the American Housing Survey, the American Time Use Survey, the Economic Census, the Annual Survey of Manufacturers, the Building Permits Survey, the Survey of Business Owners, the Annual Retail Trade Survey, the Survey of Entrepreneurs, and the Census of Governments, among many others. The surveys provided by the Census Bureau can guide policy decisions, influence business strategies, inform city and transportation planning, direct federal and state budget dollars, and can provide insight on a changing economy. For information on upcoming workshops see “Using Census Bureau Data for Economic Development Workshops” on the next page or contact Jon Chiappe, Director, Research & Economic Analysis Services; or 405-815-5210.


Upcoming Events and Important Dates WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM PUBLIC HEARING Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 1:00pm Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies 605 Centennial Blvd., Edmond, Okla.


One of the purposes of the Weatherization Program in Oklahoma is to help reduce the amount of money low-income families spend on energy-related expenses and to make alternative and more efficient use of their limited incomes.

EDITOR: Kimberly Hickerson, Project Manager

In addition to reducing expenses, the Weatherization Program decreases the amount of energy consumed in the state and contributes to overall national energy conservation. The program also improves the living conditions of lowincome people by making their homes more comfortable places to live and maximizes the economic benefits to the state.


Commerce has a commitment to obtaining public input before finalizing the application to the Department of Energy. Commerce has administered the state’s low-income Weatherization Program since 1977, and contracts with 15 Community Action Agencies to provide this service to every county in the state. Per 10 CFR 440.14, copies of the draft 2017 WAP State Plan will be made available upon request, and comments will be accepted on the State Plan up to the conclusion of the public hearing, February 15, 2017. To request a copy of the State Plan, or to comment, please submit all inquiries to Victoria Hui at or call 405-815-5374.

USING CENSUS BUREAU DATA FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS Thursday, February 16, 2017, 1:00 - 4:00pm McAlester, Enid, Muskogee, Ardmore

CONTRIBUTORS: Stefanie Appleton, Bryan Boone, Scott Mauldin

FOR NEW PIONEER SUBMISSIONS AND STORY IDEAS CONTACT: Kimberly Hickerson Editor-in-Chief - New Pioneer Oklahoma Department of Commerce 900 N. Stiles Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (405) 815-5240

Cost: Free to attend, registration required This hands-on workshop will teach you how to obtain the newly released Economic Census data from the Census website. Economic Census data may be used in business planning, business peer comparisons and market analysis. Our upcoming workshop will take place live via video at four locations around the state. Staff from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be at each location for questions and assistance. Registration and additional details at For questions, contact Jon Chiappe, Director, Research & Economic Analysis Services; or 405-815-5210. PRESIDENTS’ DAY Monday, February 20, 2017 State Offices Closed @OKcommerce

Issue 2 2017  

Oklahoma Incubators Accelerate Startup Businesses’ Success, State of Entrepreneurs, Oklahoma Selected for Cultivating Place in Main Street...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you