The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the September 2019 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.
After the approval of the July 2019 meeting’s minutes, Treasurer Randy Kellogg read off the financial report for the OKGIT. Following the approval of the budget, Kellogg announced his intention to resign from his executive team position and return to normal membership in the OKGIT.
Chair Douglas Price requested nominations for two positions upon this announcement; treasurer and vice-chair for 2020. All nominations should be sent to Price or Executive Director Jared Scism.
The Membership Committee announced their support for the approval of a new member, Dr. Mucki Wright. Following a unanimous vote by the meeting, her membership as an OKGIT member was approved. In other membership news, Meloyde Blancett was approved as an ex-officio member due to her role as an elected state legislator and as the head of Creative Oklahoma. The OKGIT will also welcome the new U.S. Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence when her approval comes through from Washington D.C.
The Culture and Education Committee updated the group on progress for International Student Recognition Day, which is set to take place March 4, 2020. Dr. Cathleen Skinner introduced the OKGIT’s first-ever Student Ambassador, Olivia Nguyen, from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Program Committee Chair Scott Thompson noted that at the group’s November 2019 meeting, People to People International World Headquarters CEO Merrill Eisenhower will speak. Global Aerospace Company Cobham PLC confirmed receipt of the group’s request for a speaker at a 2020 meeting. Cobham opened a new facility at Tinker Air Force Base in March 2019. OKGIT members are encouraged to forward all ideas for meeting program speakers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The work from the OKGIT history committee is ongoing, with Jon Neff planning a meeting of some long-time or former members of the group to generate additional information. The project’s completion date is estimated at year’s end.
In updates from state partners, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture noted that a visiting Taiwanese Wheat Trade Delegation was in the state. There is also ongoing work in attending the Food Expert Fall Meetings in October and the Azerbaijani Agriculture Forum in November. There will be a Made in Oklahoma restaurant at the Tulsa State Fair this year to showcase the local food service companies.
Luis Domenech, Oklahoma’s Mexico Trade Representative, will be in Oklahoma October 7-11 to meet with Oklahoma companies interested in exporting into Mexico or other trade services. Whether new to market or already doing business in Mexico, this will be an international business opportunity to help drive new or identify additional sales opportunities.
The United States Foreign Trade Zone and Export-Import Bank of the United States will host a free seminar to help local Oklahoma businesses and other relevant players increase their competitiveness in the international market. The seminar will include presentations by Kelly Kemp, Regional Director for EXIM Bank, and Camille Evans, Sr. Analyst for the U.S. Foreign Trade Zones Board. The seminar will take place on Thursday, October 24 at OSU OKC campus in the John Kilpatrick Building – Agriculture Resource Center room 196 beginning at 8:00 a.m.
In the report for the Oklahoma Department of Education, Dr. Cathleen Skinner noted that Eisenhower International School will receive an education award from the French government for high-quality French instruction. There are also 31 visiting teachers from Spain preparing to teach in Tulsa dual language programs, though a final renewal of the agreement must be signed with the new Spanish government.
U.S. Department of Trade’s Marcus Verner noted that the Oklahoma World Trade Conference will take place on April 2, 2020 in Tulsa. Chair Douglas Price discussed an annual awards event to recognize supporters of the OKGIT’s mission. The issuing the awards could be done at the Oklahoma World Trade Conference, with U.S. Department of Commerce supporting this idea. The executive team will discuss the awards at their next call.
The Oklahoma Consular Summit discussions were ongoing, with the group approving a $2,000 expenditure to hold a reservation for an evening reception at the fall event. However, word came just after the meeting that the summit might clash with another event in Texas in which all the consul generals would be at. The planning committee plans on having a call to reevaluate the path forward.
The group’s January meeting will take place at 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of that month at Frontier Bank with a reception to follow. The location of the reception will be determined by the next meeting. Light hour’derves and the first round of drinks will be covered by the OKGIT.
Past-chair John Curzon motioned the $5,000 support the OKGIT and corporate sponsors provided for Gastech Reception in Houston on September 17. OKGIT funds provided by the Oklahoma Business Roundtable totaled $3,000, with an additional $2,000 reimbursed by corporate sponsorships. The group approved the expenditures.
To conclude the meeting with, Oklahoma State University’s Anthony Cambas discussed the certified global business professional student pathway program.
The next meeting will take place on November 19th at 9:00 AM at the Department of Commerce.
Trade representatives from nine countries met with Oklahoma government and business leaders ahead of the 2019 World Trade Conference at the Oklahoma International Trade Representative Reception on April 2. The event, hosted and organized by the Oklahoma Governor International Team using funding from the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and CCK Strategies, brought more than 100 people to the Petroleum Club Oklahoma City to network and discuss opportunities to connect Oklahoma with international commerce and trade opportunities.
The nations attending included:
- South Korea
- The United Kingdom
The OKGIT, OKBR and event sponsor CCK Strategies of Tulsa worked alongside the Governor’s Economic Development Marketing Team and staff from the U.S. Department of Commerce and Oklahoma Department of Commerce to make the event a success. It was a busy week for Oklahoma’s international ties, with the following day’s 2019 Oklahoma World Trade Conference taking place at MetroTech OKC concurrent with the International Student Recognition Day at the Oklahoma Capitol.
In an effort to better connect our members, we wanted to send out a brief, unofficial report on May 16’s meeting. This does not supplant nor replace the minutes, which will be distributed closer to our July 18, 2017 meeting.
Due to a scheduling conflict we held our meeting at the new offices of Catholic Charities OKC, where their Executive Director Patrick Raglow welcomed the OKGIT to their Chickasaw Conference Center and gave a brief summary of his organization’s work in the community. Learn more about Catholic Charities OKC here, and contact them if you’re in need of a meeting place in central OKC, their venue is top notch and very affordable.
After a brief discussion on the professional backgrounds and qualifications, the group voted on new members. The OKGIT’s newest members are Jane Kuchko, Vice-Provost for Global Education at the University of Tulsa, and Peggy Millikin, a registered patent and trademark attorney with extensive experience in international and national intellectual property law.
Representative Travis Dunlap joined the meeting and discussed the April 2017 International Day at the Capitol, which was ultimately cancelled due to construction at the state capitol building. Further discussions will be held closer to next year’s event for better coordination and preparation between Rep. Dunlap’s office, the OK Secretary of State’s office and the OKGIT.
Oklahoma Consular Corps Representative Rico Buchli noted that Edmond is in the process of solidifying a sister city agreement with a Chinese municipality of Qingyang, which will hopefully be finalized later this year.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Trade, Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma Department of Education gave updates on their offices’ respective work and events in the coming summer months. For a listing of these events, please see our OKGIT calendar by clicking here.
Recently appointed Oklahoma Secretary of State Dave Lopez joined the meeting as the invited guest speaker, giving a summation of his recent work and plans for the rest of his term that runs until 2018. After discussing the ongoing budget negotiations at the capitol as the legislative session closed, Secretary Lopez also mentioned research his office had conducted for apprenticeship programs available in Oklahoma. The list of these programs can be found here.
Chris Morriss, chief of protocol in the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office, mentioned that Guatemala will have an honorary consul in Oklahoma City in the coming year.
The group also agreed on an initial guest list for the September 6-7 Oklahoma Consular Summit for 2017. The initial guest list was decided due to existing trade and commercial relationships between Oklahoma and these nations.
The OKGIT will hold its next bi-monthy meeting: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Are you in the aerospace sector or involved in serving customers who work in it?
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has STEP Grant Funds available that may help offset costs of participation at the Paris Air Show on June 19-22, 2017. But you must apply ASAP. Here is the registration form for the STEP Grants.
As noted on ODOC’s website, “The Oklahoma STEP Forward Enhancement Fund is part of the State Trade Expansion (STEP) Grant Program, an export promotion initiative to make matching-fund grants assisting small businesses in Oklahoma. The intent of this program is to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting…
“The STEP program is a matching grant which pays a portion of participation costs and travel expenses to exhibit at designated international trade shows. Matching reimbursement varies by show.”
If you have any questions, please reach out to OK Department of Commerce International Trade Specialist Jesse Garcia.
In an effort to better connect our members, we wanted to send out a brief, unofficial report on today’s meeting. This does not supplant nor replace the minutes, which will be distributed closer to our May meeting.
We had guest presentations from Dirk Spiers, of Spiers New Technologies, who gave a lively briefing of his firm’s work in Oklahoma and his take on our current state of affairs. Here’s a link to Dirk’s interview with www.okgit.wpengine.com last year.
Next up was Peggy Millikin of Millikin Intellectual Property Law who discussed her firm’s full service intellectual property legal work, including work for Oklahoma firms interested in international trade and copyright protections.
Loida Salmond of Le Monde International School, a public charter school in Norman offering K-6 education in French and K-1 education Spanish, set to open in August 2017. The group agreed to discuss offering a letter of support for the mission of promoting foreign language instruction at a later date.
In the final guest presentation, the University of Tulsa’s Jane Kucko introduced herself to the group in her role as TU’s Vice-Provost for Global Education. She’ll oversee the university’s center for global education, which oversees study abroad, TU Global Scholars and global development program initiatives.
Following that the group members in attendance overwhelming voted to affirm four new members of the group:
- Tom Dugger – Senator for District 21 in Oklahoma Legislature
- Jose A. Sagarnaga – Professor at OSU Center for Advanced Global Leadership and Engagement, Spears School of Business
- Lisa Powell – Associate Director of Enid Regional Development Alliance
- Evelyn Aswad – Professor at University of Oklahoma Law School
Rico Buchli gave an update on the consular corps, including an update on the situation in Peru from OKGIT member and honorary consul Enrique Villar-Gambetta, who requested an email be sent to the group concerning relief efforts at mitigating devastating floods there.
The group agreed to fund $2,000 for this year’s International Day at the Capitol, taking place April 19.
Those in attendance, along with feedback from some members who were unable to attend the meeting, supported the proposal to reschedule the time of the May 16 OKGIT meeting to 2 p.m. and investigate the possibility of a reception to follow at a nearby venue. More details will come in the following weeks.
Chair John Curzon also discussed the possibility of closer collaboration with partners in the Netherlands through work with OKGIT-member organizations like Creative Oklahoma ahead of Dutch Design Week in October 2017 and the World Creative Forum in November 2017.
The next OKGIT meeting will be May 16 at 2 p.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Oklahoma has a new secretary of state after a short stint by Mike Hunter, who was recently appointed attorney general. Mike Lopez, a former interim superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools and former Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce was named by Governor Mary Fallin as the newest Secretary of State.
The governor issued a brief statement concerning the appointment, saying:
“Dave Lopez has been a successful businessman and tremendous civic leader with connections all around the nation,” said Fallin. “He brings a great deal of expertise and enthusiasm to the post and I’m delighted to have him back on my Cabinet. He will help in my efforts to implement pro-growth, fiscally responsible and conservative policies to move this state forward.”
Lopez began his duties in an official capacity on March 27 and will have to be confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
The below interview originally ran in the January 2017 edition of The New Pioneer magazine. It is reproduced here with the express written permission of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Q&A with Charles D. Mills, President of Mills Machine Company, on his company’s use of the State Trade Expansion Grant Program offered through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
What initially made you decided to apply for the STEP grant?
“Since the grant was written for international marketing programs and I had always wanted to translate my website into several other languages, it was a perfect fit for my company. We chose Spanish to be the first language for translation because we were expanding our export market in Mexico, Central and South America.”
How has having your website translated into Spanish helped to increase opportunities/actual sales results?
“Our distributors have commented on how helpful the translated site is for them and their customers in trying to explain our product line and the advantages of our custom designed products.”
How did STEP funds help you save money in the long term?
“The STEP grant funds supplemented our investment for the translation costs which saved us several thousand dollars.
“As a relatively small company I probably would not have been able to come up with the money to translate my site, that is why I had not done it sooner.”
Describe the application process for the STEP grant.
“The application process was pretty involved but the questions were simple and straight forward. It requires you to define and update your international business plan which is always a good exercise for any business to do on a regular basis.”
What recommendations would you give other companies looking to apply?
“The STEP grant that I was awarded was $5,000 (the current cap is $2,000) and the cost of the translation plus the software and labor required to put that on our website cost us a little over $8,000. So, the new cap of $2,000 would still help but we obviously would have a lot more investment from our side. You could possibly at least translate your home page. The first thing that you need to do is contact your webmaster and see what is required to embed the software into your website and then shop around for a translation company that has good references in translating your industry’s terminology. Be aware of the different dialects and try to find some middle ground where people from different regions can understand your information. Use any local contacts that you have to provide guidance and translate your industries terminology into their language.”
What are some key takeaways from your experience?
“Do your homework, have a plan of what type of marketing that you want to apply for. You could translate your website or a brochure, attend ExporTech, exhibit at a trade show or whatever type of marketing that would grow your company.”
What is the primary reason peer companies should consider this grant other than the export portion?
“Take advantage of your tax dollars to supplement your marketing efforts to grow your company globally. Ninety-five percent of the world lives outside of the United States so take advantage of the opportunity and let’s grow the economy!”
For more information visit: okcommerce.gov/stepfund.
Read more about Chuck Mills and his century-old Oklahoma business in this profile from The Oklahoman.
(Top photo credit: Photo by Jim Stafford, For The Oklahoman.)