Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Weather Sector May Attract Thousands of Jobs to Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Weather Sector May Attract Thousands of Jobs to Oklahoma

Article excerpt

The weather industry could bring 1,000 high-paying jobs generating a $2.4 billion annual payroll to Oklahoma within 10 years, according to an industry expert. And the University of Oklahoma is building an infrastructure the state can use to become the international leader in the weather industry.

Kelvin Droegemeier serves as a regents' professor of meteorology for the School of Meteorology Geosciences at the University of Oklahoma. He also served as the head of the Weather & Climate subcommittee of Gov. Brad Henry's Economic Development Generating Excellence, or EDGE, initiative.

We see (weather and climate) as a major economic development area, said Droegemeier. Oklahomans have been leading the way in research and development in weather and climate for 45 years, he said, and federal investment in the state's research and development programs over the years has been substantial.

Additionally, OU is home to the nation's largest and best meteorological academic program. We are a world leader across the spectrum: in research, education, operations and also training, he said.

Forty percent of the $10 trillion U.S. economy is weather and climate sensitive, said Droegemeier. Agriculture, energy, construction, transportation, telecommunications, retail trade and other industries' operations are heavily impacted by the weather, and have a vested interest in accurate forecasting services, he said.

An economic development initiative in weather would feed other potential growth areas in Oklahoma, he added, such as military applications.

Weather is abundant in Oklahoma, inexhaustible, and it's not subject to world events, politics or market trends, said Droegemeier. Plus, the market for weather-related technology is global. Thus, weather is a reliable, sustainable growth industry for Oklahoma to pursue.

This is something Oklahoma can do now, we can do very well, we can do for a long time, with low risk and a high probability of success, said Droegemeier. The EDGE Weather and Climate team recommended that Oklahoma provide targeted financial support to grow the Oklahoma Weather Center.

Droegemeier was among the speakers at the Norman Economic Development Coalition's Sooner Centurion Economic Summit 2004 in Norman. …

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