Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

SpiritBank Re-Establishes Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

SpiritBank Re-Establishes Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance

Article excerpt

Albert Kelly said many people wonder what a bank has to do with the aerospace industry.

"People identify Oklahoma with energy and oil, and they also identify it with agriculture, but we don't in our own backyard realize the impact that aerospace has," said Kelly, president and CEO of SpiritBank. "We see the ability of a private institution like ours to become a prominent player in developing aerospace companies, and by doing that, as the saying goes, the rising tide will raise all boats."

SpiritBank re-established the Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance this year. The purpose of OAA is to provide a venue for Oklahoma aerospace companies to network and discuss what is needed to fuel the industry.

Mary E. Smith, director of OAA, said she was somewhat surprised when SpiritBank officials approached her about taking over the alliance.

"It was hard for me to grasp," she said. "Why would a bank, a non- aerospace company, want to spend time and money on this? But they convinced me they were serious."

Kelly said by helping strengthen the aerospace industry the bank can benefit from increased employment and business.

"We can look at aerospace as being a frontier for the bank, and a frontier for the state," he said. "We allow them to not be politically tied to anything."

The OAA is not a new entity, and has undergone several changes and formats throughout the years. Smith, who has 10 years' involvement in the aerospace industry, said the first version of OAA was unsuccessful because it was funded by the state. Using state money comes with a set of restrictions, and Smith said it provided an obstacle in meeting the industry's needs.

Tulsa launched its own aerospace alliance years ago, but encountered the same problems when funding came from the city.

"It's ideal to not have the director or governing body subject to any political unit," she said. "It needs to be an agenda that actually serves the industry as opposed to the politician."

After SpiritBank expressed interest in re-establishing the alliance, Smith said she met with aerospace industry leaders to discuss the benefits of an alliance. …

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