Touring area industry provides leaders with look at innovative methods for growth

by Jessica Garvin

On Monday, the House successfully voted to override the governor's veto of SB 26 on extending the tribal tobacco compact for one year. This will allow the state and tribes additional time to work out a good faith agreement that benefits all Oklahomans. The special session is now officially adjourned, and we can turn our full attention to interim studies and our other working groups and committees.

Last Thursday, I joined the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to learn how the Oklahoma Innovation Expansion Program (OIEP) is providing financial assistance to existing/legacy companies in our state to help them expand their operations and services. We toured two companies in Duncan who are OIEP recipients. They were among 178 companies who received a total of $13.5 million in grant funding this year.

This program supports high-impact new capital investment within various industries to further diversify our state's economy, promote new product development, or increase capacity within existing Oklahoma companies. This is a partnership between Commerce and the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority (ODFA) that supports existing jobs, while creating new ones. It provides grants of $25,000 to $125,000. These are made through monthly cash payment awards through payroll tax rebates to help companies grow and offset the cost of capital expenditures incurred during expansion.

This year's grants will facilitate $91.1 million in capital expenditures among these companies, which employ nearly 11,000 people with average wages of more than $56,000. These grants will also help create around 1,060 jobs with a total new payroll of $63.7 million. These critical investments in Oklahoma companies are helping protect and create jobs, while growing these companies and boosting local economies. You can learn more about this business grant program at

First, we visited Valco Manufacturing, which supplies metal products to the state's aerospace industry and our military. The company has 33 employees and has been in operation for around 30 years. Roger Valdez, the owner and president, said they'll be investing $400,000 into new equipment to help their small business be more competitive and get products out faster. They'll be purchasing an industrial oven, along with other necessary equipment, for steel heat treating to allow them to do this work in-house, instead of sending it out-of-state. They were awarded an $85,000 OIEP grant.

We also toured Sensia Global Manufacturing, who with the help of their OIEP grant was able to purchase an automated CNC machine to get more international business. This company has 85 employees and manufactures measurement equipment for the oil and gas industry. They received a $150,000 OIEP grant to help with their $500,000 project.

These are outstanding companies and have a strong economic impact in our local community, county, and state. It's important that we support our local businesses and find innovative ways, like these grants, to help them grow and expand. Before we consider recruiting out-of-state companies to relocate to our great state, we need to do all we can to utilize and support the great businesses we already have right here in our own backyard.

If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at or call (405) 521-5522.

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