Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt made the announcement and OKC added it’s eighth Sister City with the addition of Piura, Peru.

Thanks to the advocacy and hard work of Honorary Consul of Peru in Oklahoma Enrique Villar-Gambetta and the Sister Cities International Oklahoma team, Oklahoma City residents will have another new relationship to celebrate.

“The Sister Cities program is very active in OKC & I find the program and especially its events are a great way to connect with our immigrant community as well as the leaders & residents in our Sister Cities around the world,” said Mayor David Holt in a press release upon signing the agreement with the Alcalde (Mayor) Juan Jose Diaz Dios in late January 2020.

The city of approximately 484,000 lies on the river that shares its namesake, and was the first Spanish city founded in Peru by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

The Sister City agreement signed by both leaders says the relationship is intended to expand mutually beneficial cooperation between citizens of both cities while promoting good will, economic relations and foster charitable, scientific and commercial activities.

Honorary Consul Villar-Gambetta is an Oklahoma City-based attorney originally from Peru. He has practiced law for 31 years in Peru and through partner law offices handles diverse proceedings in other countries like Chile, Colombia and Panama. In December 2011 by Supreme Resolution No.450-2011, dated December 15, 2011, signed by the President of the Republic of Peru, Mr. Ollanta Humala Tasso and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Rafael Roncagliolo Orbegoso appointed Enrique Villar-Gambetta Honorary Consul of Peru in the City of Oklahoma City, United States of America, with circumscription in the State of Oklahoma.

He has been a member of the OKGIT since 2013.

Header Photo – Honorary Consul Villar-Gambetta with his son Alonso alongside Sister Cities International Oklahoma City representatives Jane Abraham, Mary Blankenship Pointer and Dr. Mucky Right at OKC City Hall for the proclamation signing. 

Below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the January 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

After the approval of the November 2019 meeting’s minutes, John VanPool announced his resignation as the incoming Chair due to some unforeseen job duties. As a result, Douglas Price announced that incoming Chair-elect Scott Thompson would become the next chair of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team starting in March. The OKGIT

Following the financial report from Treasurer Mary Blankenship Pointer, she informed the membership of the account balance and that she was in the process of moving the bank account from Chase Bank to Midfirst Bank. The Gavel Handover Ceremony will take place Feb. 12 from 1-1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Capitol Complex.

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, the marketing committee encouraged the group to answer the questions that were sent out by John VanPool about whey they joined the GIT.

The Cultural and Education Committee report concerned the status of next year’s International Student Recognition Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, set to take place on March 4, 2020. OKGIT Student Ambassador Olivia Nguyen from the University of Central Oklahoma also gave an update on her status and will continue to support the group in her capacity. Douglas Price and Cathleen Skinner also presented a new program to the OKGIT would take place every fall during International Education Week that would bring together secondary K-12 and higher education students to practice foreign languages and provide immersion experiences. These students would also be provided opportunities to practice their language skills with visiting delegations to show foreign dignitaries that Oklahomans appreciate global languages and that we are invested in them as a state.

In other education news, Muhammet Sezer shared news about another business called Leaders of Tomorrow Friendship Dinner that will bring together diverse communities from the next generation through dinners to increase understandings of one another.

During the Program Committee report, Scott Thompson and Andrew Ransen noted graduate students from Oklahoma State University would present their work at the OKGIT meeting on March 10. These students are currently conducting research on the impact of international exchanges in the State of Oklahoma. The purpose of the presentation is to provide valuable insight that will benefit members of the OKGIT. Anyone who has other program ideas for speakers for the upcoming year should inform Scott Thompson.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner had several updates from the Oklahoma Department of Education. In her report, Dr. Skinner stated the Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a 2021 budget request of 3.29 billion for common education. This includes a $220 million increase from last year. The request seeks to restore critical instructional funding, including funds to reduce class sizes and hire additional teachers and counselors. On the other hand, world languages in schools continue to struggle. German programs in the state of Oklahoma have disintegrated with only two programs in the state remaining. Furthermore, Oklahoma is down 50% in teacher education programs. Moreover, Tulsa is needing a significant increase in native Spanish speakers in their middle schools and high schools and currently working to recruit teachers from Spain to come and teach.  Dr. Skinner also mentioned a new program taking place across the country that includes students partnering with Girls Who Code to bring computer science opportunities to elementary, middle and high school girls in local communities. These afterschool programs are free for girls to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models and use computer science to change the world.

Honorary Consul for Switzerland, Rico Buchli from the Oklahoma Consular Corps reported on their latest activities, including being honored by their biggest sponsor, Oklahoma Sister Cities at a reception in December. Honorary Consul for Peru Enrique Villar Gambetta also informed the group that a sister city agreement was signed between Oklahoma City and Piura, Peru.

In other news, the STEP Program grant has been approved, with several companies looking to participate in international trade shows through STEP grant funding. Jesse Garcia talked about how the STEP grant could also help local businesses wanting to enter the global market or expand international trade capabilities and how it would help promote their companies at a variety of trade shows and reimburse companies for up to 75% of the participation costs. Jamie from Department of Agriculture further discussed how the STEP grant could help local businesses in attending upcoming food shows in Chicago and New York. More information about these shows can be found on our website at www.okgit.com/events.

Commerce also reported that the state would be sending a delegation to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston in May 2020.

Chief Protocol Officer Chris Moriss reported that the State of Oklahoma will celebrate sister-state relationship anniversaries for the 35th with Kyoto, Japan and Gansu, China as well as the 40th anniversary with Taiwan. She requested the GIT consider different ways to celebrate these anniversaries. Chris also reported that Governor Stitt has been invited to visit their countries as part of these anniversaries.

The U.S. Department of Trade reported that the Hannover Messe trade fair would be taking place from April 20-24th in Hannover, Germany. Anyone interested in attending should contact Marcus Verner.

2020 Consular Summit

Following the committee reports, the group began finalizing preparations for the 2020 Oklahoma Consular Summit that will take place from April 1-3 in conjunction with the World Trade Conference. On April 1, the GIT will host a welcome reception. On the morning and early afternoon of April 2nd, the OKGIT will support the World Trade Conference. Once the WTC concludes, delegations will have a chance to attend industry briefings and plant tours, followed by host dinners that evening. The end of the week would conclude on April 3 with the Consular Summit and lunch with Governor Stitt, allowing plenty of time in the afternoon for visiting delegates and officials to meet with Oklahoma counterparts if desired.

Following input from the Department of Commerce and Secretary of State, initial invitees for the event include Japan, Guatemala, the U.K., Germany, France, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Italy, India, Peru, Sweden, Netherlands, Hungary, and Brazil.

Planning and preparations are being led by past-chair James C. Collard, and questions or input are greatly appreciated. Please reach out to Dr. Collard or theokgit@gmail.com to support planning this event.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

  • March 10thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
  • May 19thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
  • July 21st from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce

For our program, U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Residence Amanda Johnson presented information about career and program opportunities associated with the U.S. Department of State.

Learn more about their mission and work at state.gov.

Governor Kevin Stitt and Secretary of State Michael Rogers welcomed Italian Consul General Frederico Ciattaglia on the latter’s visit to the Sooner State in late October.

“He’s in town visiting us and talking about our trade partnerships and the great partnership we have with his country,” Secretary Rogers said. “We are excited to have him and for the partnership we will have in the future with him, his country and Oklahoma.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s 2018 Oklahoma Global Report, there are 13 Italian companies in the state employing more than 664 people. The connection with Italy is part of a larger part of European countries’ in the state, which totals approximately $2.3 billion in combined investment and has resulted in nearly 4,500 jobs.

The consul general’s office is based in Houston, Texas and provides services to 10,000 Italian nationals in the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Follow them online at facebook.com/ConsolatoGeneraleItaliaHouston  or visit their website here.


Representative Mark McBride talks with students at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Representative Mark McBride talks with students at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

What looked unlikely a few months ago came to fruition on April 3 as international students from universities across Oklahoma joined Governor Kevin Stitt, Secretary for Native American Affairs Lisa Billy and more than a dozen state legislators for International Student Recognition Day at the Capitol.

Former State Legislator Travis Dunlap was the point person in organizing the event at the capitol in prior years. With his departure coinciding with a changeover in OKGIT leadership at the start of 2019 made the task of organizing the event – taking place the same day as the Oklahoma World Trade Conference – seem unlikely.

Fortunately for the OKGIT, Representative Mark McBride heard about the event and stepped into the preparations. With OKGIT Chair Douglas Price of Tulsa Community College and OKGIT member Jared Scism of the University of Central Oklahoma, the 2019 event came together on a very tight timeline. More than 40 students from 37 countries who are currently enrolled at six Oklahoma higher learning institutions visited the statehouse and heard about the business of governing from speakers like Governor Stitt, Secretary Billy and Representative McBride.

The day offered an opportunity for all. Students hailing from governing systems across the political spectrum got to see the day-to-day legislative process of representative government while in session. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s elected leaders got to meet individuals who have left home to live and study in the Sooner State.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team partnerships with international student and study abroad programs, please visit okgit.wpengine.com/education

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

The meeting opened with an introduction by Shalon Simmons, who will be the featured speaker at the May 2019 OKGIT meeting. Her program at that meeting will discuss the EU General Data Protection Regulation and how it could impact Oklahoma firms. She will also be speaking at the April 3 Oklahoma World Trade Conference on the issue.

Treasurer Randy Kellogg discussed the group’s finances, emphasizing the need for members to please pay if they have not already. He has distributed invoices to members, but those unclear on their status should reach out to him. The OKGIT’s most recent financials were distributed to the group prior to the meeting via email, but if you need another copy please email theokgit@gmail.com.

Interviews for the executive director position were concluded, and the candidate selected will hopefully be in place by May 1. Once the hiring committee selects a candidate, they will notify the OKGIT members via email.

New chair Douglas Price informed of the changes made to the OKGIT Bylaws on three issues:

  • Changing the status of Board Member Emeritus to count in addition to the group’s membership. Emeritus members are non-dues paying members, as their institutional knowledge is extremely valuable to our group’s success.
  • Regular Board member limit has been increased to 50
  • Update date and add annual reminder to review and if necessary, update bylaws

In OKGIT housekeeping news, interim-Executive Director John VanPool requested that members review the OKGIT.com/members page to ensure their profiles are updated. He is cross checking with the updated roster but wants to ensure all information is up to date. Written bios and headshots can be submitted to theokgit@gmail.com.

An order of OKGIT name tags will be put in on March 29, if you need one please email your name and company/employer to theokgit@gmail.com.

International Student Recognition Day is April 3 and the OKGIT is playing a primary sponsorship and organization role under Chair Douglas Price. He is working closely with Rep. Mark McBride, who has spearheaded the event at the legislative level. There are more than 18 legislators attending the event from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Add the event to your calendar here.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is planning a Midwestern Association of State Departments of Agriculture meeting in late June, likely June 24-27, more information will be added when available.

Together with USDOC, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture is helping prepare for the upcoming Oklahoma World Trade Conference at MetroTech. Oklahoma Trade Representative in Mexico, Luid Domenech will be attending and will be in OKC on April 2 and Tulsa on April 4 for meetings outside of the WTC.

There are no more spaces available for the ODOC delegation to the Paris Air Show, as 50 people and Governor Kevin Stitt are slated to attend.

ODOC will also not be attending the Offshore Technology Conference this year, but will be at the GasTech Conference in Houston in September. ODOC will also be at the June 19-21 Mexico Petroleum Conference. Contact Jesse Garcia for more information.

Honorary Consul for France in Oklahoma Grant Moak reported that the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics has had its first exchange with a school in France. On March 21, Oklahoma and Amiens, France signed an MOU for future relations.

USDOC’s Ashley Wilson reported that aside from the Oklahoma World Trade Conference, there are a few upcoming events in Oklahoma. One is the Caribbean Road Show on May 7 inside Tulsa City Hall, another is the June 5-6 Access Asia Program with trade experts on Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan also to take place inside Tulsa City Hall.

The Oklahoma World Trade Conference on April 3 has 113 people enrolled and will include the following nine countries and their representatives. While dinner representatives are accounted for, if you or someone you know might be interested in attending a private dinner after the April 2 Oklahoma World Trade Reception at the Skirvin with a trade or consular representative, please reach out to the host. If you don’t know the host, reach out to theokgit@gmail.com.

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

Oklahoma City played host to the 36th annual 20th & 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium on March 14-16, 2019, with organizing efforts from staff and students at three Oklahoma universities assisting in its production.

The University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma and University of Tulsa helped prepare and organize the event, which brought academics, Francophone artists and diplomats and other experts from around the globe to the state’s capital. An organizing committee of Dr. Pamela Genova (OU), Dr. Karl Pollin-Dubois (TU), Dr. Priya Wadhera (Adelphi University) and Oklahoma Governor’s International Team member Dr. Catherine Webster led the preparations.

This year’s event focused on “catastrophes, cataclysms, adaptation and survival.”

“The new century has brought with it what seems like an endless series of disasters, both manmade and natural, throughout the Francophone World. Acts of terror in Paris, including the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks, have shaken and moved us. Moreover, cataclysmic forces of nature and global weather catastrophes that include recent flooding in France, earthquakes in Haiti, and Hurricane Irma’s direct hit on Saint Martin, have affected millions of people …

“What is the nature of catastrophe? What can be considered cataclysmic — both literally and metaphorically? How do catastrophes, cataclysms, adaptation and survival translate in literature? What is a literature of survival?”

The OKGIT was one of the event’s sponsors, donating funds for proceedings in accordance with its mission of bringing together business people, members of government at the local, state and federal levels, educators from kindergarten all the way through to post graduate studies, and international, cultural and other non profit organizations.



The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is battling a nationwide problem with a global solution.

Loss of manufacturing has affected cities, states and tribal nations across the United States. Younger people are leaving their homes to look for better work or settling for jobs with lower wages. As a result, economies in those regions have lagged.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the surrounding area are no different.

James Collard, the nation’s tribal economic development director, said the answer lies in expanding the potential client pool, which comes naturally to his community.

“Historically, many of the tribes, particularly Citizen Potawatomi Nation, have been traders for hundreds and hundreds of years,” he said. “The notion of trade is in the DNA, in a sense.”

That’s why the nation began working on Iron Horse, an industrial park that replaced a cornfield blanketing 400 acres off Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 177. The area held more than productive soil. A Union Pacific railroad runs through the middle of it.

“It just seemed to make sense,” Collard said. “The railroad runs literally right through the park. We believe in freight rail, and it is coming back. These kinds of parks can serve as a main to bring the manufacturing back that has been lost.”

Collard said this project’s return on investment is significantly higher than that of retail and other development.

“It comes down to multipliers,” he said. “Different jobs have different values.”

Collard based this value on the ability each new job has to spur more new jobs. Four new retail positions are required to trigger demand for one more job, he said. Those numbers are reversed in manufacturing. A single manufacturing job will create four to five non-manufacturing jobs, he said.

Years before tribal officials began marketing the site, they had to determine its target market. Collard said it was a good time to fall back on the tribe’s roots. They considered the long-term implications.

“It might be a way to reconnect with that emphasis on trade,” he said.

The site received its foreign trade zone designation in 2014, allowing the tribe to market several duty breaks to foreign manufacturers. Companies using the site will see duty exemptions on imported raw materials and outgoing waste and other materials. They won’t face tariffs on goods they sell to the U.S. in both public and private sectors. Users would also see fewer regulations on storage time processes.

“The cost savings are enormous,” Collard said.

Matthew Weaver is the director of marketing and business development for Foreign Trade Zone 106. The organization covers 22 counties and acts as a liaison between organizations seeking the designation and the federal government.

He said Iron Horse has a magnet site designation. Instead of seeking the designation for one specific site for a specific use, the Citizen Potawatomie Nation sought the designation for a whole park.

Companies would still have to go through an activation process, but operating on a tract that is already designated simplifies that process. Companies don’t have to seek activation if they build in Iron Horse, but it’s available.

“That’s just something that’s available in Citizen Potawatomie Nation’s toolkit,” Weaver said. “It’s a value added that (the tribe) can say, ‘We’re serious about businesses located here, and we’re sophisticated enough to know this is a major incentive.’”

Kyle Dean is an economics professor and the director of the Center for Native American & Urban Studies at Oklahoma City University. He studies the economic impact tribes have on the state.

He said the Citizen Potawatomi park’s success could bleed into other parts of the state. As nearby cities such as Dallas and Oklahoma City grow toward each other, the surrounding area tends to benefit as well, and that could increase interest in Iron Horse.

“I have high hopes for this,” he said. “I think it’s going to be good for the metro.”

Originally posted on http://www.ironhorsecpn.com/cpn-seeks-trade-boost-iron-horse-industrial-park/.

Hardware+Tools Middle East Exhibition

Hardware+Tools Middle East will be showcasing over 180 exhibitors including 3 Country Pavilions of Thailand, Taiwan and China where you can find the best cost-effective solutions to improve your projects’ profitability.

If you are looking for competitive business deals, then don’t miss the opportunity to meet the source, the manufacturers themselves, at the show.

2 – 4 April, 2018
10am – 6pm l Hall 8
Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre
Telephone: +971 4 358 4500
Fax: +971 4 358 5511


Previous Exhibitor Statements

Hardware and Tools 2017 has been a great show for us. This is our first year participating at a focused show like this and it has impressed us so much that we already look forward to returning next year. We are pleased to have been part of the new feature, Tool It!, it has allowed us to showcase the quality of our products and their uses, in a better way to the audience. Overall in terms of business, the show is one of its kind and is different from other shows that don’t consider the satisfaction of exhibitors.” – Imad Abu Hadwan, Area Sales Manager, HITACHI

The show is great, not only for us, but also for the other participants. It gives us the exposure that is needed for a big brand like us and it helps us reach out to untapped regions in the market. The new competition that was organized by the organizers was indeed great exposure for our products and also gave us a chance to interact with the industry specialists, construction workers and others. We are glad to have been part of this show and look forward to its upcoming editions.” – Tamer Khalil, Production & Service Manager, Central Motors & Equipment LLC & BOSCH

We have been part of the show last year too and we can without doubt say that this year has been busier. We have had visitors from all over region that are keen on doing long term business with us. To our surprise, we have also had visitors from different segments of the market that were unknown to us. Hardware and tools Middle East has all our support and we look forward to the next editions and the new features that will come along with it.” –Sumit Kumar Chordia, Managing Director, Dar Al Mas Tools & Equip. Trd. LLC

We are extremely happy with the show and are excited to be here as it has been busy for us throughout the three days of thee exhibition. We have been having meetings with our customers and distributors so it was great to build on our relationship with them. Not only existing customers, but we have also built new contacts and look forward to doing more business. All gratitude extends to Hardware+Tools ME for their support throughout the show.”- Dikran Egavian, Consultant Middle East & Africa, WIHA

The show is niche and focused, yet the response we’ve had at the show has been very surprising. The visitors are focused and are the right people that we need at our stand and for us to expand our reach in the region. In terms of business, we have collected a good database of potential customers and we look forward to doing business with them soon.” –Jibu Mathews, Sales Manager, Middle East Fuji LLC