Oklahoma’s Future is Aerospace & Aviation

Opinion: With how competitive the national economic landscape has become, it’s imperative to invest in industries that not only provide stable employment but also drive innovation and prosperity. An industry that holds tremendous promise for Oklahoma’s economic future is aerospace and aviation.

Days like the recently held Aero Day here at the Capitol, help to reaffirm our commitment to workforce and economic development in the aerospace industry. For those unfamiliar with this day, Aero Day is an important day here at the Capitol where aerospace and defense businesses from around the state convene to discuss important initiatives with legislators. This event serves as a platform for collaboration and idea exchange, driving forward the aerospace agenda in Oklahoma.

Recognizing the significance of bolstering the aerospace sector, Oklahoma has taken proactive steps to support its growth. From increasing state funding for aerospace initiatives to integrating aerospace education into high school and CareerTech classrooms, our state is positioning itself as a national leader in this critical industry. The aerospace and defense sector stands as Oklahoma’s second-largest and fastest-growing business sector, employing over 200,000 Oklahomans across more than 1,100 aerospace and aviation companies. This industry not only drives economic activity but also fosters innovation and creates high-paying jobs statewide.

Our dedication to aerospace is reflected in this year’s budget resolution, which includes funding to expand aircraft engine testing capabilities and improve airports and runways statewide. These investments are poised to create hundreds of new jobs and attract additional aviation businesses to Oklahoma.

Moreover, initiatives like the Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity Fund (PREP) earmark funds for airport improvements, aiming to enhance economic development in rural areas. By investing in infrastructure and education, we’re not only strengthening our aerospace industry but also ensuring that communities across Oklahoma can thrive.

Education remains a cornerstone of our aerospace strategy. Through initiatives like aerospace education grants and curriculum offerings in high schools, we’re preparing the next generation of aerospace professionals. By promoting quality aerospace education statewide, we’re equipping students with the skills they need to excel in this dynamic industry.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that aerospace will continue to play a central role in Oklahoma’s economic success. By fostering innovation and supporting workforce development, we will ensure that our state remains a leader in the aerospace industry for years to come.

About the author: Sen. John Haste lives in Broken Arrow. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin. He has been a senior executive in the home furnishings Industry since 2002.  Currently, he serves as president of J.M.H Consulting. In 2010, John received a pro tempore appointment to the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority and Trust, where he has served as vice chair and chair. He was chair when he resigned to take his oath of office representing District 36 in the Oklahoma Senate in November of 2018.

Within the Oklahoma Senate, John serves as chair of both Aeronautics and Transportation and the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation and vice chair of Health and Human Services. He also serves on the Appropriations, Business and Commerce, and Rules Committees.  Click here for more information.

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