Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Public-Private Partnership Provide Continued Economic Growth in OK

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Public-Private Partnership Provide Continued Economic Growth in OK

Article excerpt

As political leaders work on incentive programs to lure new business, a public-private partnership may hold the key to a real economic boom.

As an example, the partnership helped pump $134 million into the state's economy last year by helping existing Oklahoma companies expand.

More is expected this year because of the partnership led by the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Several community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as economic development agencies, are included in the partnership. Other state agencies often are called in for assistance in working with the state's small manufacturers.

This aid is provided through a network of manufacturing extension agents, a model based upon the agricultural extension system, said Roy Peters, president and chief executive of the alliance.

"Local manufacturing agents are based in technology centers, colleges and universities and regional development organizations," Peters said.

"Their goal is to help manufacturers increase sales and reduce costs. They look at industry needs from the manufacturer's viewpoint."

The alliance is a nonprofit private organization that helps state manufacturers become more successful. It receives money from the U.S. Department of Commerce and state money from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Center for the Advance of Science and Technology.

It also has an offshoot, the Oklahoma Technology Commercialization Center, which helps entrepreneurs in high-tech fields obtain financial and start-up assistance.

The state's career tech system provides education for high school students, as well as adults, for jobs in numerous fields. It also provides services for business and industry through specialized instruction and applicant screening for new jobs.

Technology centers, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as economic development agencies, contribute office space, clerical support and help pay extension agent salaries.

Each agent has an office in the local entity's complex and works with manufacturers in an assigned area.

"These agents provide a variety of services such as developing marketing plans, helping introduce new technology and suggesting new training," Peters said. "They also provide training on lean manufacturing (a process to improve manufacturing and reduce costs).

"(This) involves analyzing how information and materials flow in the manufacturing environment, then continuously improving processes to increase profitability.

"At the end of every project, the ... agent sits down with the firm's (chief executive) to determine an estimate on the dollars saved and retained."

The $134 million economic impact estimate is based upon the return measured in terms of sales retention, cost savings and jobs retained, Peters said. …

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