Brandy McIntyre has worked at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (Commerce) for just over a year, as Western Oklahoma’s Regional Development Specialist. McIntyre’s region covers 12 counties, including the towns of Frederick, where she lives, and Altus, where she offices at Southwest Technology Center.
What are your major priorities in Western Oklahoma?
One of the main priorities for our region is to increase quality job opportunities by working with businesses and communities to be appealing and encourage business expansion and attraction. Another focus is workforce development and training programs, as well as Career Pathways programs for high school students. Assisting smaller communities in becoming more amenable to businesses and providing economic development training is also essential.
What are some of the biggest assets to your area?
The Western region’s assets include an abundance of natural resources including oil, gas, wind and solar opportunities, as well as gypsum, copper, and many others. Other major assets are our agricultural products such as cotton, wheat, soybean, cattle and dairy. In addition, the Interstate 40 corridor provides a direct path through the state and runs directly across the Western region. Western Okla., is also home to the Oklahoma Spaceport (OSIDA), Altus AFB, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a wealth of history, beautiful landscapes, and tourism destinations.
What are the main industries in your area? Our main industries include agricultural products and equipment, automotive parts, oil, gas, wind and solar products and services, aerospace services, healthcare services, and food products.
What are some of the largest companies in your area?
- Superior Fabrication
- Western Equipment
- American Gypsum Company
- Altus Air Force Base
- Bar-S Foods
- Eastman Kodak Company
- Henniges Automotive
What are some of the newest companies or business expansions in your area?
In Weatherford, Okla., the Eastman Kodak Company is expanding their facility with a $15 million dollar investment guaranteeing new jobs to the area. In addition, with the arrival of the KC-46 airplane to Altus AFB, there is significant expansion happening with an additional 300-600 new jobs expected.
What businesses would be a good fit for the region and how does Commerce work to attract those types of businesses?
Any business related to our existing industries would be a great fit for the Western region allowing us to capitalize on existing natural resources, agricultural products, and aerospace services. I consider the Western region a somewhat untapped market with a multitude of opportunities for ideas to create clusters of companies around already existing industries. Our team of business development specialists at Commerce is constantly searching throughout
the world for opportunities that would fit the needs of the Western region. Our team constantly markets all of Oklahoma’s assets and industries at events and industry shows. Locally, I encourage and try to foster great ideas and start-up businesses by connecting them to existing programs.
How does the Western area work to provide workforce solutions for companies?
As a state agency, we work closely with area technology centers, universities, colleges and local school districts to provide the necessary training needed for each industry’s needs. Because our area is not as large in population as other areas, we are better able to cater to specific needs in each industry such as the aerospace training programs. The program at Southwest Technology Center in Altus is specifically designed to assist the needs of Altus Air Force Base.
What partnerships are vital to the area?
Partnerships with area economic development groups and individual cities and counties are essential. These local groups are the driving force behind much of the development in Western Oklahoma. We also work closely with the local councils of government to provide assistance and services where needed.
How have community and development grants helped the region?
These grants have provided vital infrastructure updates and additions to communities. Many of the Western region communities have a population of less than 5,000 residents, so without these grants there would be little infrastructure development or updates.
What services do you provide that communities should be more aware of?
The main services I provide are assistance, information, and connections to opportunities that are available through the various programs of Commerce and other organizations. There are so many opportunities for growth and development and my job is to connect people with the resources to make their communities’ needs and wants a reality.
Any information or insights that you would like to include?
There is a real need within our state to focus on our smaller communities. We have had wonderful success in attracting business to Oklahoma and helping many companies open and expand. However, now is the time to step back and see what programs we might be able to provide to help with population decline in some of our smaller communities. There are wonderful smaller cities all over Oklahoma that provide a great environment for families and businesses, but their populations are declining rapidly due to lack of viable jobs. Some creative ideas to increase population and allow people to move back to the smaller communities would go a long way in improving their economic outcomes.