Oklahoma governor touts importance of electric vehicle partnership

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is seeking to meet the expectations of one of the state’s top oil and gas economies with a plan to bring electric vehicle makers into what he calls “the ‘Most business-friendly state’.

Through a decade-old incentive program known as the Quick Action Closing Fund, Stitt has pledged to give Los Angeles-based electric vehicle maker Canoo $15 million over the next four years in a bid to create new, well-paying jobs and diversify Oklahoma’s economy.

Although the Sooner State is the nation’s fourth-largest oil producer, Stitt told the Washington Examiner the investment compares to “having a chance to land Ford Motor Company at the turn of the century”.

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“People have a misconception about Oklahoma, that we’re just oil and gas – what we love about our oil and gas, and we’ll have an honest conversation with you about how that’s so important But we’re looking at alternatives like well,” Stitt said.

Canoo, the Los Angeles-based company that builds subscription-only electric vehicles (EVs), unveils its first model called Canoo, at the AutoMobility LA car show in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/ Damian Dovarganes)

Damien Dovarganes/AP

When Canoo announced Pryor, Oklahoma as the site of its US manufacturing plant in June 2021, it was estimated that the plan would create 1,500 well-paying jobs for that plant alone. So far, Canoo has announced plans to create 700 new engineering and technology positions in Tulsa and Oklahoma City as part of its long-term goals.

Stitt told the Washington Examiner the investment was a “no-brainer” for Oklahoma, adding that the state has “more charging stations per capita than any other state.”

“We lean heavily into hydrogen, carbon harvesting. We have huge universities here that are focused on energy transition. So we’ve had honest conversations for decades about what that looks like? us the free market to operate? And at the same time, have a reliable and robust electricity grid,” Stitt added.

Established in 2011, the state’s $300 million Rapid Action Fund was created as a financial source available to the governor to attract high-impact businesses. The $15 million commitment is almost five times the previous one record of $3 million that was distributed twice, once in 2013 to General Electric for a research center and once again in 2015 to Commercial Metals to build a factory in Durant.

“We certainly have protections in place to protect the taxpayer and to make sure there’s no corporate welfare or that we don’t give something away for free without prior performance,” Stitt said.

Canoo can claim $3 million in Quick Action funding after spending at least $48 million and completing construction of 10% of the Oklahoma-based plant. The company said the state has committed a total incentive package worth $300 million to create new jobs in the state, though many details are withheld due to an agreement. confidentiality. obtained speak Frontier.

The Governor of Oklahoma also waived a tender for the commitment offered to Canoo. Still, Stitt’s administration has defended the decision, with its communications team saying it will ultimately make the state more attractive to businesses.

“While open and competitive sourcing is generally the preferred approach, a more focused sourcing strategy to achieve an economic initiative is entirely justifiable,” said Robert Alfert, a Florida bar-certified attorney in the law of construction, when asked if there were risks for exemption from tendering.

“Whether this is a ‘net positive’ is entirely dependent on the rigor of the work Oklahoma does to determine that this foray into electric vehicles makes economic sense for the state and whether Canoo is the right vehicle. – no pun intended – to move this initiative forward,” Alfert told the Washington Examiner.

Stitt also said state officials were in talks with another “supplier to the electric vehicle industry,” noting that the location of the state’s “dead center” in the United States made it a location of choice for distribution. “Hopefully we can land and make this announcement in a few weeks,” Stitt said.

Canou announcement On Wednesday, he was selected by NASA to build vehicles to ferry astronauts to the launch pad for the Artemis missions to the moon and Mars, a competitive deal worth $147,855.

NASA’s selection of Canoo was seen as a marginal victory for the company’s brand recognition due to a series of insider setbacks as more than 50 employees left the company in the years that followed the departure of its managing director and other corporate executives in their own right. year, Bloomberg reported.

Oklahoma has agreed to purchase up to 1,000 electric vehicles from the company over the next five years, each ranging from $35,000 to $50,000 per vehicle.

Canoo’s plant in Pryor is not expected to be completed until 2024, meaning some of the state-purchased vehicles will likely be made at Canoo. Coming factory in northwest Arkansas. The company previously aimed to open the factory in 2023.

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“Most likely we’ll give them some of the vehicles in northwest Arkansas, but not many,” Canoo CEO Tony Aquila said in a recent post. interview.

Commercial production of Canoo’s standard electric vehicles is still on track to begin later this year at the company’s plant in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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