PRYOR — The principals responsible for bringing electric vehicle maker Canoo and 2,000 jobs to MidAmerica Industrial Park did manage to enjoy a champagne toast Thursday.
But they aren’t about to get dizzy with complacency.
Instead, they plan to take Canoo’s $400 million investment and cash in on the momentum, MAIP CEO David Stewart said.
“We are right between Tulsa and Bentonville (Ark.),” he said. “We are at the epicenter of one of the largest concentrations of workforce development in the area. It’s not going away. The trajectory is going to be upward. So we need to get more aggressive about our thought process and have the vision of what this can be.”
MAIP is the world’s eighth-largest industrial park in the world with more than 80 companies. Seven Fortune 500 firms have operations there, including Google and DuPont.
The investment by Canoo, a Los Angeles-based startup company, is among the largest ever made in the area, rivaling the $550 million American Airlines committed to its maintenance base in Tulsa in early 2020.
“This is not going to stop now,” Stewart said Thursday at a news conference for Canoo’s announcement. “I have another 1,500 acres available … It’s not over. It’s really the beginning of a new wave.”
The Oklahoma factory will include a full commercialization facility with a paint, body shop and general assembly plant. The campus also will include a low-volume industrialization facility and vocational training center.
The initial build-out is scheduled to begin this year, with the plant becoming operational within 12 to 13 months and fully completed by 2024.
Tony Aquila, Canoo’s chairman and chief executive officer, told Reuters that the state of Oklahoma is providing the company more than $300 million in tax incentives. Friday, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce declined a request by Tulsa World for details of those incentives, citing an exemption in the state’s Open Records Act.
MAIP’s management team will directly support Canoo’s workforce development and recruiting through MidAmerica Delivers, a comprehensive strategy that serves as the best-practices model for the state of Oklahoma. The park has invested more than $15 million in its education and workforce training programs, with help from on-site partners that include the Cherokee Nation, Rogers State University and Northeast Tech.
In addition, the park has constructed STEM education labs at 18 schools in the area.
“We try to pro-actively support students and make them aware of MidAmerica and what is going on here,” Stewart said “The key to the future is letting kids know they have a future here. They can live here and stay here. We don’t want them leaving.”
MAIP started as a U.S. government site that developed black powder during World War II. That plant shut down in 1945, and 15 years later, a public trust called the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority (OOWA) was formed to spark economic growth and create jobs.
Operator of the industrial park, OOWA derives its revenues from the operation of a water plant, waste treatment plant, the sale or lease of authority properties, interest earned on investment holdings and, at certain times, loans made to industrial park tenants.
In recent years, MAIP has poured more than $47 million in education and workforce, quality-of-life enhancements and infrastructure. An additional $50 million worth of investments planned over the next three to five years, Stewart said.
“MidAmerica is growing in its reputation as being pro-business, with competitive incentive programs and low costs to do business,” he said. “We actively and aggressively recruit companies into the area, and I think this (Canoo) will be the first of several.”