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2017 Issue 9

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

Community Development Focus Issue

Program Helps Oklahomans Lower Their Utility Bills and Increase Energy Efficiency in Their Homes p. 5

RX for Oklahoma helps Oklahomans access prescription assistance programs. Free and discounted medication assistance has proven to be a much needed service for Oklahomans since the inception of RX for Oklahoma in 2005. RX for Oklahoma provides better healthcare, improved medication compliance and fewer medical complications for those who qualify. TX Oklahoma residents, regardless of age, who are uninsured or underinsured are encouraged to apply. Medicare Part D and Medicaid beneficiaries with unique circumstances may qualify. Call RX for Oklahoma at 1-877-RX4-OKLA (1-877-794-6552) or go to one of the regional processing centers designated for your residential county found at RX for Oklahoma staff will take your information including name, age, address and income as well as prescription(s) needed and dosage(s). This information is then entered into a special database that generates the appropriate paperwork for the pharmaceutical companies for which you are eligible. RX for Oklahoma staff will assist you with the completion of the applications and required documentation for submission. The entire process takes approximately one month to complete, so only long-term medications will qualify.

“Rx for Oklahoma has been a big help to our family by helping us obtain the medications we need. They assisted us through the whole process and were wonderful to work with. We received the medications very quickly and are so relieved that we can now take them on a regular basis. Rx for Oklahoma has saved us hundreds of dollars a month and that’s a big help when you’re on a fixed income.” – Rx for Oklahoma Client When applying, please have the following information available: • Age • Residential address • Gross annual household income • Complete list of medications you are taking • Physician information • Insurance coverage (if applicable)

There is no charge for RX Oklahoma services. Staff are available to provide assistance with the application process.



Aerospace is Oklahoma’s 2nd Largest Economic Engine Governor announces findings of economic impact of aerospace industry Governor Mary Fallin announced the findings of the Oklahoma Aviation & Aerospace Economic Impact Study, which showed that aviation and aerospace is now the second-largest economic engine in the state. The study shows that airports; off-airport aviation and aerospace businesses; and military aviation produce almost $44 billion in annual economic activity in Oklahoma. Altogether, aviation and aerospace businesses support 206,000

The footprint of aviation and aerospace in our state has grown dramatically – 250 percent – in the more than 20 years since our last study. There are about 1,100 aerospace and aviation businessrelated companies in our state.

~ Governor Mary Fallin jobs and $11.7 billion in payroll. The average salary in aviation and aerospace is just over $73,000, according to the report. “Oklahoma is one of the world’s premier destinations for the aerospace and defense industries,” said Fallin. “It is centrally located with developed infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, competitive incentives and low cost of doing business.” In a two-part look at Oklahoma’s public airports, including civilian and military, the study measured the total economic impact of each individual airport and then combined these individual airport impacts to determine the overall economic impact of the 109 airports in the Oklahoma Airport System and the state’s three Air Force bases: Altus, Tinker, and Vance. The last comprehensive study of the state’s airport system was conducted in 1994.

“The footprint of aviation and aerospace in our state has grown dramatically – 250 percent – in the more than 20 years since our last study,” Fallin said. “There are about 1,100 aerospace and aviation business-related companies in our state.” The study was coordinated by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC). “Aviation and aerospace is extensive in Oklahoma – it includes the 109 public airports that comprise the state system, the tenants on those airports such as American Airlines and the FAA Monroney Aeronautical Center; the three Air Force bases; and off-airport aerospace businesses like Boeing, NORDAM and FlightSafety,” OAC Director Victor Bird said. “Many of us knew aviation was big in Oklahoma, now we know just how big it is. This study provides the foundation for system planning and future investment

in our airport system for decades to come.” In addition to the economic impact of the state airport system and the Air Force bases, the study measured the impact of off-airport aerospace businesses. There are over 870 businesses not located on airports that are in the aviation and aerospace industry. The annual economic impact of each airport is expressed in terms of annual jobs supported, payroll associated with these jobs, and annual economic activity or output generated by the airport. The goal was to “put a face” on each airport so that the general public would have a better understanding of all the benefits that are supported by the day-to-day operation of Oklahoma’s public airports. Airports will be provided with an individualized report documenting their impacts prior to a training session that will take place Sept.15 in Oklahoma City. Other study documents, such as the technical report, legislative district reports, and a summary report, will be made available via the commission’s website at For more information, contact the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission at (405) 604-6900.


Program Helps Oklahomans Lower Their Utility Bills and Increase Energy Efficiency in Their Homes Many times when visiting with WAP clients, they tell me about the difference that the weatherization has made in their lives. I have been told that their homes are more comfortable and they feel more secure. Many share that they would never have been able to afford the work that was done by WAP.

Johnny Field, Weatherization Training Director, OKACAA The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps lower-income households reduce their utility bills and increase energy efficiency in their homes. The program is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce with funding from the Department of Energy. The program gives priority to the elderly, disabled and families with children. Implemented through Oklahoma Community Action Agencies, the program provides energy audits and weatherization solutions to approximately 200 homes per year. Johnny Field, Weatherization Training Director for the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies (OKACAA), retires this month. OKACAA receives WAP funding from Commerce to provide training and technical assistance to the OKACAA who provide weatherization services to Oklahoma families. Johnny has played a critical role in lending his expertise to ensure that the WAP program is administered and implemented according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) rules and regulations. Before coming to work for OKACAA, Johnny worked in the construction industry and building of new homes. New home construction ties closely with weatherization of existing homes. When the opportunity to work in the training department was offered to Johnny, he

saw a chance to work closely with the agency employees to provide training that would improve the quality of work. DOE now requires that all weatherized homes be inspected by a certified Quality Control Inspector (QCI). Johnny was one of the first people in Oklahoma to QCI, and has helped train many other QCIs in the state. To become a certified QCI, a person must take a 100-question written exam and also take a field test that demonstrates their expertise in conducting the required diagnostics testing. Only about 50% of the people testing in the United States successfully complete these exams. The QCI requirement is not the only DOE requirement that has changed over the years. When Johnny started there was only one test that was being conducted on homes and now there are 13 test procedures that are required for each home during the initial energy audit. The time spent at each home increased from around two hours to six hours per house. Johnny says the extra time is valuable because the impact WAP has on families in Oklahoma is vital. “Many times when visiting with WAP clients, they tell me about the difference that the weatherization has made in their lives. I have been told that their homes are more comfortable and they

feel more secure. Many share that they would never have been able to afford the work that was done by WAP.” Johnny has enjoyed helping families, both by improving the conditions of their homes and by training a workforce of construction crews in testing and installing the energy saving measures correctly. Program employees are highly trained and receive on-going instruction to further develop their skills. Oklahoma has its own Weatherization Training Facility at the OKACAA which received accreditation from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, a nationally recognized accreditation of clean energy programs. Over the next 10 years Johnny expects more changes to WAP requirements. “Weatherization is becoming a highly skilled profession which requires increased specialized training. This training is making it hard to find qualified people and I would expect that finding qualified people will become more difficult in the future,” said Johnny. “Change is coming. Change always happens – life would not be fun if it didn’t. When change happens, work with it and keep going.” For more, information visit or call 405-815-5374.

$16.6 Million Awarded for Infrastructure Improvements

View a detailed interactive map of 2016 awards along with data for 2012-15 at Look through the Commerce’s new interactive map to see what CDBG grants have been awarded from 2012-2016. The economic health of Oklahoma’s rural communities is a priority for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Our Community Development team administers Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support economic development in Oklahoma communities. These grants address issues such as outdated water and wastewater systems, drainage, and streets. Funds are also used for fire and emergency response as well as municipal services for youth and the elderly. These programs work together to strengthen communities, improve quality of life, and spur opportunity through job growth. The CDBG program focuses on rural Oklahoma and funding is only available in communities with populations under 50,000. Projects that can be undertaken with CDBG funds include water, sewer, streets, drainage, community centers, fire protection and other publicly owned infrastructure. Consistently, the CDBG program is focused on our rural areas with well over 60% of funds being allocated to communities with populations of less than 1,500. In 2016, the State’s CDBG program funded 95 projects totaling more than $16.6 million. This benefited an estimated 330,000 Oklahoman’s and helped create 150 new jobs.

CDBG BY THE NUMBERS: $16.6 million awarded for infrastructure improvements 150 new jobs 330,000 Oklahoma beneficiaries 95 new projects in rural Oklahoma Source: Program Performance Numbers for 2016 CDBG


Exporting to Mexico: A Booming Market for Oil and Gas Q&A with Oklahoma International Trade Office in Mexico The opportunities are huge and Oklahoma companies watching, visiting and taking action on what is happening south of the border is translating into new Oklahoma exports and incredible sales opportunities.

Luis Doménech, Director Oklahoma International Trade Office Mexico The Global Team at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce offers trade and export assistance to Oklahoma companies looking to sell their products and services in the global marketplace. Commerce maintains a trade office in Mexico dedicated to uncovering opportunities for companies beginning to export. The team also works with exporting companies by reviewing their strategies, current distribution structures and analyzing alternatives and opportunities in the marketplace to help increase their sales and results. Mexico is Oklahoma’s second largest trading partner only surpassed by Canada. Direct exports to Mexico accounted for 10.8% of Oklahoma’s total exports in 2016—that is $537 million. Companies that have added exporting to Mexico have seen their sales increase up to 20% within a few years. Luis Doménech, Director of the Oklahoma International Trade Office in Mexico, explains what the energy reform in Mexico means for Oklahoma exporters and how companies can access these opportunities: What are some of the sector opportunities that you see benefiting OK companies in the next couple of years? The opening of Mexico’s energy sector opened opportunities for oil, gas and electric power operators, as well as for equipment and service suppliers serving the energy industry. The reform has attracted operators from all over the world, ranging from the giants such as China National Petroleum Corp, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Total, Lukoil Eni, Chevron and Repsol, to medium- and small-sized companies and even new operators. The opportunities are huge and Oklahoma companies watching, visiting and taking action on what is happening

south of the border is translating into new Oklahoma exports and incredible sales opportunities. How will the future reworking of NAFTA affect OK companies to do business in Mexico? Nobody knows precisely how the NAFTA renegotiation will evolve. The U.S. government is seeking to reduce trade deficit as a result of the renegotiation. If duties are applied to Mexican manufactured products, Mexico will most likely do the same to American goods. NAFTA is a 24-year-old agreement and the integration of production chains among all partners is huge. As an example, cars manufactured in Mexico have an average of 40% American components and Mexico supplies more than 35% of the parts that are incorporated into vehicles produced in the United States. If taxes are placed to finished vehicles exported to the U.S., Mexico will have to source parts and export vehicles to other parts such as Europe and Asia, the least benefited will be the current NAFTA partners and the main winner will most likely be China. The impact to Oklahoma exporters will depend on the outcome of the negotiation. However in a negotiation of this nature, the goods that might be taxed are those that can relatively easy be sourced from other parts of the world. Oil and gas equipment, due to its characteristics, technologies, size and weight could not easily be brought to Mexico from other latitudes so we are not expecting it will form part of the negotiation and most likely will remain free of duties.

Given cost-competiveness factors for certain sectors in Mexico, what does an OK company need to consider in order to be successful in exporting to Mexico? American products are highly appreciated by Mexican companies, especially in industries such as energy. Mexicans are willing to pay a premium for American-made products as they value the quality and longevity of the products. Despite of this, Mexico is highly price sensitive and when purchasing equipment, the quality-price relation and ROI is what counts most. Oklahoma manufacturers who are labor-intensive and that do not incorporate state-of-theart technologies into their equipment will find it difficult to compete with local production, so the answer for Oklahoma exporters is to excel in quality and incorporate technological advantages to their equipment. What are the top 5 export commodities from OK into Mexico? Sixteen percent of Oklahoma exports to Mexico are fabricated metal products; these include heat exchangers, compressors, pumps, valves, pipes and even offshore platform structures. These fabricated metal products are the number one export. Fourteen percent are chemical products, 13% machinery (except electrical), 12% are food products (mostly swine, wheat and muslin) and 8% are electronic products and components. For those companies in the oil/gas sector, can you briefly explain the energy reform and how it can benefit an Oklahoma company more so than before the implementation of the reform? Prior to the reform, Mexico’s energy sector was closed to private investment, only the state-owned companies (PEMEX for oil and gas and CFE for electricity) were operating infrastructure in the sector. Selling to them was a complex process. Everything was purchased through public bids, companies had to be registered suppliers, several bids were restricted to Mexican companies only and the whole process was tedious and complex and conducted in Spanish. The reform has opened the sectors to private participation, and today, besides PEMEX and CFE, Oklahoma companies will find in Mexico another 80 operators who can be clients, that operate or will operate infrastructure and that conduct purchasing following their own private practices. As a result of this competition, both PEMEX and CFE have restructured and made their procurement practices easier and more transparent.

From the cultural perspective, what is the important item to take into consideration when doing business in Mexico? The main cultural difference is the timing of things. In Mexico, things happen slower than in the U.S. You can quote a client and not hear from him for weeks, then when they place an order there is an urgency. What are the services that Commerce’s Mexico Trade Office provides to Oklahoma businesses? Services Provided by the Oklahoma International Trade Offices in Mexico Are: • International trade counseling and market entry strategy consulting • International regulations and certifications/standards assistance • International agent and distributor/partner searches • Vetted international trade leads and bidding opportunities • International trade show assistance • Comprehensive market research reports • International due diligence requests • Sourcing assistance These services are available at no cost to Oklahoma companies who are export-ready. What are some of the types of Oklahoma companies that you have helped successfully export to Mexico? There are dozens of companies that Commerce, with the support of the Mexico trade office, has successfully assisted over the past years. Those have ranged from large equipment such as flares, burners, heat exchangers, and turbine cooling systems to smaller equipment such as control valves, pressure regulators, flow meters, compressors, down hole tools, process equipment, metering stations, launchers and receivers, etc. to really small pieces such as nuts, bolts, joints, tools and personal safety equipment. The Mexico ITO has helped companies from various industries tap into the opportunities offered by the Mexican market. The work of the ITO is only a small component of an export strategy, but a very valuable part that without it, companies would have to spend thousands of dollars researching the market. We are here to help save that learning curve and uncover the opportunities and potential business partners in the market.

To schedule an appointment to meet with our Mexico Trade Office Director, Luis Domenech, contact Jesse Garcia at 405-815-5136 or

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Community Action Agencies Assisting Communities A closer look at Washita Valley Community Action Agency [Early Head Start} program is a prenatal, infant, toddler, and family development program that provides many services to eligible children and their families, including children with disabilities and special needs. We have waiting lists for EHS children for Chickasha and Anadarko. Our Carnegie and Fort Cobb EHS classrooms are always full. We are struggling to find teachers, which is a problem all across the state of Oklahoma.

~ Sharlotte Key, Executive Director Washita Community Action Agency The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) provides core funding to local Community Action Agencies (CAA) to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities and to empower low-income families to become self-sufficient. Community representation and accountability are hallmarks of the CSBG Network, where agencies are governed by a tri-partite board. This board structure consists of elected public officials, representatives of the low-income community, and appointed leaders from the private sector. Because the CSBG funds the central management and core activities of these agencies, the CSBG Network is able to mobilize additional resources to combat the central causes of poverty. Washita Valley Community Action Agency (WVCAA) is 1 of 19 action agencies servicing 77 counties in Oklahoma. Washita Valley Community Action Council was incorporated in 1968 to serve Caddo and Grady Counties as a Community Action Agency. ODOC spoke with Sharlotte Key, Executive Director to get a closer look at the functions and helpfulness of action agencies to their region. What programs does WVCAC implement? Head Start, Early Head Start, HOME, Public Transit and Navigator. Which programs are the most utilized or most popular in your area? Do these programs have the funding and volunteer base needed to serve all those in need? Early Head Start - We have 98 Early Head Start slots for Caddo and Grady Counties. We have six Early Head Start (EHS) Centers. The EHS program is a prenatal, infant, toddler, and family development program that provides many services

to eligible children and their families, including children with disabilities and special needs. We have waiting lists for EHS children for Chickasha and Anadarko. Our Carnegie and Fort Cobb EHS classrooms are always full. We are struggling to find teachers, which is a problem all across the state of Oklahoma. Public Transit - Our ridership is at full capacity, but we are unable to find qualified drivers. We are in competition with the public schools for drivers. Our public transit system takes riders to work, medical appointments, post office, shopping, and senior nutrition centers. HOME- We have 12 homes that were purchased and renovated with funding from Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency to provide quality and safe housing to low-income individuals/ families. All homes are always at 100% occupancy. Match and leverage requirements for grants makes applying for more grant funding more of a challenge. What programs do you offer that people would be surprised to know is available? People are surprised that all the programs that are listed above are under the umbrella of Washita Valley Community Action Council. They know about the programs, but do not associate the programs with our agency. Tell about your CAA’s transit program and how it works. We provide low-cost transportation in Grady County. All of our twelve vehicles are ADA accessible. Our hours are from 5:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. We are a demand response system, where riders must call in and book a ride with our dispatcher. The cost in the Chickasha city limits is $2.50 and outside the city limits

KOB’s Annual Environmental Excellence Awards is $5.00. Fifty percent of our operating costs are provided by a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the remainder of the funding comes from fares, advertising, contracts, and state revolving funds. Last year we provided 22,452 passenger trips.

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) will hold its 27th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at the Embassy Suites in Norman. Organizations will be recognized for their outstanding efforts in environmental stewardship and beautification.

Tell us about your Head Start Program? We are funded for 380 Head Start children in Caddo and Grady Counties. We have nine Head Start Centers. The Head Start program is for three and four year old children. The Head Start and Early Head Start Programs provide individualized services in education, early childhood development, and medical, dental, mental health, nutrition, parent involvement and family development.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Regina Turrentine is a member of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce. Turrentine founded Ardmore Beautification Council in 1989, which became a 501c3 in 1997. She has been the president of this organization ever since. She is on the board of OK Arts Council, Leadership Oklahoma and other boards - all as a part of her effort to help people better their ideas and reach goals.

Services are based on the age of the child, family income at or below the federal income guidelines, recipients of TANF or SSI, homelessness and foster children. To promote school readiness, Creative Curriculum is used in the classrooms and is a scientifically based curriculum and correlates with the Oklahoma State Early Learning Guidelines. We also provide services to children with disabilities and special needs.

Other award winners include: Vanguard Award - American Waste Control Visionary Leadership Award - Sustainable Tulsa Towering Spirit Award - Margaret Annis Boys Trust Champion Volunteer Award - Donna Mackiewicz

Can you share a couple of examples of how people use your public transit services? Two young adults who live outside the Chickasha city limits rely on our public transit system to transport them to their jobs. One suffers from a degenerative disease and is unable to drive and the other is severely autistic and must have routine and consistency and is also unable to drive. There are also senior citizens that rely on our public transit system to go to the senior nutrition center every day. One of our riders was diagnosed with polio when he was an infant. He was on the task force that helped us develop the grant for our public transit system. He has been a loyal rider since the first day of operation and relies on transit to get him to work and back. Another rider has been confined to a wheelchair most of her life with Muscular Dystrophy and transit takes her to work at Hoffman’s Trucking. Community Action Agencies, help families all across the state. For more information contact: Oklahoma Department of Commerce at 405-815-6552.

“Each year, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s board of directors spends focused time in discussion about nominees brought to them by members of the board and staff,” said Jeanette Nance, KOB Executive Director. “They painstakingly pour through so many qualified people, community groups and companies. Their decisions are not always easy. This year’s choices for these prestigious five board awards are among the most qualified under the specific definitions for each award. We are happy to recognize this special group of 2017 winners in such an important way. We thank them for what they are doing to enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment. Congratulations!” Award recipients, along with finalists of the Environmental Excellence Competition, will be recognized at the celebration in November. To learn more about this celebration and to purchase tickets, visit Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit with a mission to empower Oklahoma citizens to preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment.


Upcoming Events OKLAHOMA MUNICIPAL LEAGUE, ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBIT The Community Development team and Oklahoma Main Street Program from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be in the exhibit hall ready to meet and answer your questions. September 12-14, 2017 Cox Business Center, Tulsa, OK Oklahoma Main Street will host a session entitled “Oklahoma Main Street Application Workshop” on Wednesday, Sept. 13 beginning at 2:00 p.m. For more information visit: or contact OML at (405) 528-7515 or (800) 324-6651.


Tulsa, October 9th-10th Oklahoma City, October 12th-13th ODOC’s Trade Director from the Mexico-Oklahoma International Trade office, Mr. Luis Domenech, will come to Oklahoma to meet with export-ready Oklahoma-based businesses that are interested in doing business (or who are currently doing business) in Mexico. To schedule an appointment to meet with our Mexico Trade Office Director, Luis Domenech, contact Jesse Garcia at 405-815-5136 or


Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 10:00 AM – Noon Canadian Valley Technology Center Chickasha, OK Thursday, September 28, 2017, 10:00 AM – Noon Pontotoc Technology Center Ada, OK Costs: Free to attend, registration required Filling out Requests for Proposal can be a daunting task, but is critical in attracting businesses to your location. Learn how to find the data you need with a free 2-hour interactive workshop with direct application for business recruitment and development in your community. The workshop will include an overview of the RFP and site selection processes, followed by a hands-on tutorial with Department of Commerce researchers on sources, databases, and strategies to help you fill our RFPs for your own community. Registration and additional details at: For questions, contact Jon Chiappe, Director, Research & Economic Analysis Services, at or 405-815-5210.

NEW PIONEER, A PRODUCT OF THE OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE EDITOR IN CHIEF: Kimberly Hickerson CONTRIBUTORS: Bryan Boone, Kathy Gain, Amanda Marcott-Thottunkal, Rhonda Harding-Hill, Marshall Vogts, Steven Hoover, Mike Sexton PHOTO CREDITS: Oklahoma Department of Commerce FOR NEW PIONEER SUBMISSIONS AND STORY IDEAS CONTACT: Kimberly Hickerson Editor-in-Chief Oklahoma Department of Commerce 900 N. Stiles Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (405) 815-5240 @OKcommerce

Issue 9 2017  

Community Development Focus Issue, Rx Oklahoma, Weatherization, Community Development Block Grants, Community Action Agencies, Exporting to...

Issue 9 2017  

Community Development Focus Issue, Rx Oklahoma, Weatherization, Community Development Block Grants, Community Action Agencies, Exporting to...