The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the July 2019 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

OKGIT Executive Director Jared Scism talked about updates made to www.okgit.com to be more mobile-friendly, adding an upcoming events tab and dividing the members section by what position members are in terms of being a regular member, executive team member, ex-officio or an honorary consul. Jared also discussed his work updating the calendar every week, requesting that members contact the executive committee to see if they may need help with anything, email requests.

Jared Scism also discussed the financial report for Treasurer Randy Kellogg and informed members that all remaining members who had not paid their dues would be removed from the OKGIT roster.

Vice-Chair John VanPool encouraged members to check the website and update their bio, profile, or photo by emailing theokgit@gmail.com. He also encouraged everyone to send articles or press releases about organizations and/or members so we can share and show how diverse our group is on our website and social media pages.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner of the Oklahoma Department of Education was announced as the new chair of the Education and Cultural Committee. Dr. Skinner updated the OKGIT about the Ambassador program that the committee is currently working on.

Chair Douglas Price shared with everyone that arrangements for the International Recognition Day at the State Capitol are underway with Representative Mark McBride. We are currently trying to plan to host the event at the beginning of March.

Jon Neff has continued working on writing and highlighting the history of the OKGIT. Jon is continuing to look for people who are interested in helping in with this project. Those interested in helping may contact him at jonneff@bruneneff.com.

In membership news, Marc Nuttle and Mark Stansberry were approved to receive emeritus memberships due to their longtime service to the group and institutional knowledge. Additionally, Nyla Khan was approved for membership. Jared Scism also updated the group that Edie Roodman from Oklahoma Israel Exchange has stepped down from being a member of the OKGIT.

Oklahoma Senator Tom Duggar shared that the Parliamentary Vice Minister of Japan of land, transport, tourism and infrastructure will meet with senior state officials about the sister-state relationship between Kyoto, Japan and Oklahoma on July 25-26.

Meeting Program Chair Scott Thompson informed the group that the OKGIT has a program speaker for November, but is still looking for someone to speak at the September meeting. If you know anyone who might be a good fit, contact Scott at sthompson@mercervalve.net.

Jamie Cummings from the Department of Agriculture shared about a group from Taiwan they are meeting with to look at wheat industry opportunities, while an Indonesian group is set to meet with businesses in the state’s cotton production, beef and commodities industries.  The DOA has also applied for the STEP Grant which will explore incorporating Oklahoma Native American communities, private businesses and other mentors.  They also have a priority in helping those smaller businesses with their international trade.

Jesse Garcia from Department of Commerce talked about Mexico Trade Representative Luis Domenech making a business visit on October 6 with business companies within the Mexico market.  DOC will be exhibiting at Gastech Conference Sept. 17-19, Houston Texas.  DOC can provide information to companies that may be interested in attending the conference. Canadian Consul General Douglas George wants to possibly meet with OKGIT team members at the conference. Anyone who is planning to attend the conference, and interested in meeting Consul General Douglas George, let Jared Scism know by next Wednesday, July 31. DOC is also still waiting to hear the STEP grant details to help companies prepare for international exporting.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner shared the Department of Education will be having professional development days throughout cities in Oklahoma.  She also discussed the ongoing dual immersion program with Spain. The dual immersion program is a good experience for families and the schools that participate.

Marcus Verner from U.S. Department of Commerce shared that Luis Domenech will be making a business visit to Oklahoma Oct 7-11.  Disaster assistance for business owners affected by the recent storms that occurred during May and June, there is funding now available, those interested in learning more or who may have been impacted can reach out to Marcus through the theokgit@gmail.com address. USDOC will also be present at the Gastech Exhibition Conference will be on Sept 17-19, have a presence at the Discovering Global Markets Middle East and Africa conference on Sept 30 and have set the date for the Oklahoma World Trade Conference April 2, 2020 in Tulsa.

Dr. Jim Collard, chair for organizing the 2019 Oklahoma Consular Summit, said it is still to take place this fall. The group is still waiting on Governor Kevin Stitt to confirm the final date. We are currently planning to invite 12 countries and are still looking for two individuals or companies to sponsor a dinner for Italy and India respectively. If you are interested in sponsoring one of these two countries, contact Jared Scism at theokgit@gmail.com.

Douglas Price shared with everyone that the OKGIT would be going paperless and asked that all GIT members print and bring copies of items they might want to look at to the meeting.

Michael Rogers, the Oklahoma Secretary of State was one of our two speakers for the July meeting. During his speech, he spoke about Governor Stitt’s long-term thoughts about making Oklahoma more global and to look for more ways to bring industry back to Oklahoma. He also talked about the Governor Stitt’s recent visit to the Paris Air Show.

State Representative Melodye Blancett was our other speaker. Blancett is the Executive Director of Creative Oklahoma spoke to the OKGIT about the organization. She explained that their mission is to advance innovative and creative thinking in the areas of education, culture and commerce with the end goal of creating a more robust and prosperous state.

The next OKGIT meeting will take place on September 17 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Oklahoma 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:

  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Belgium
  • South Korea
  • Guatemala
  • Taiwan
  • The United Kingdom
  • France

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.

  • Canada
  • U.K.
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • France

The OKGIT will hold its next bi-monthy meeting: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

If you are or know of a member that is not receiving emails or is not on the membership section of the website, please email me at info@okgit.com or theokgit@gmail.com

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:

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.

chuck-mills-headshot

Chuck Mills

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.)