The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the January 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

Upon the approval of the November 2020 meeting’s minutes, Executive Director Jared Scism gave an update regarding the 2020 November and December finances of the organization. After approval of the budget, Chairman Scott Thompson announced Andrew Ranson as the new treasurer of the OKGIT.

During the Membership Committee report, Past Chair Douglas Price encouraged the team to nominate new members. Anyone interested in nominating a new member can contact Executive Director Jared Scism for further instructions.

After the Membership Committee report, Marketing Committee chair, Jose Sagarnaga presented an OKGIT branding draft guide to the membership for review. This guide included an overview for color schemes, logo styles, color pallets, typography, and a strategy for our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

During the Cultural and Education Committee report, Cathleen Skinner updated the membership about the committee’s different ideas to support OKGIT’s mission. These ideas included promoting international day in November by working with Representative McBride to create legislature in the Governor’s office, working with Oklahoma Council of the Arts and Oklahoma Department of Libraries to involve Oklahoma authors in providing educational webinars, finding ways to support the Seal of Biliteracy for all ages, and forming a young professionals group among Oklahoma’s international population.

After the Cultural and Education Committee report, Vice-Chair, Shalon Simmons presented the discussion questions to the membership that would take place during the program speaker portion of the meeting.

From the Oklahoma Consular Corp, Rico Buchli, Honorary Consul of Switzerland, informed the OKGIT membership that the Consular Corp has been busy despite several meetings being put on hold.  Rico and Honorary Consul of France Grant Moak also expressed concerns over fraudulent sovereign citizen documents that purport to allow their members to go through government checkpoints. Jim Collard reinforced these concerns by revealing that this group also has a presence in Oklahoma and should be taken seriously.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce revealed the Oklahoma Department of Commerce is currently working to schedule a number of events and services through September 2022. Jesse also announced ODOC was approved for the SBA STEP Grant program which provides a very easy streamlined application process. Funding has also been approved for organizations that would like to update their websites to make them more international-friendly, including translation, optimization and localization. For further information, click here or contact Jesse directly. An information webinar of these website services will be held on Wednesday, January 27th at 10:00 a.m. Jesse concluded his report with updates regarding state protocol after the retirement of Chris Morriss. Arrangements are currently being made and all protocol questions should be directed to ODOC going forward.

After the Oklahoma Department of Commerce report, Cathleen Skinner informed the membership of updates from the Department of Education. The OSDE is constantly reviewing its policies to keep families, students, and educators safe during the pandemic while trying to continue learning during the pandemic. Cathleen also publicized the OSDE renewed their MOU with Taiwan and Spain to continue educational and language immersion exchanges. Meanwhile, programs with France are continuing as usual.

During the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, Executive Director Jared Scism informed the group that the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education had no updates and that current activities were continuing as usual with colleges primarily trying to deal with COVID-19 issues.

Upon the completion of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, Marcus Verner provided a list of highlights from the U.S. Commercial Service. These highlights included:

–       The U.S. Commercial Service moving to 100% teleworking

–       The U.S. Commercial Service planning a number of virtual activities for the upcoming year

–       Nomination requests for the annual President’s Export Awards. The deadline is May 3, 2021.

–       Working with the State of Oklahoma to develop a state and federal plan focusing on the targeted industries of energy, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and automotive with Canada, Mexico, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands

–       Making arrangements with the District Export Council for the World Trade Conference that will likely take place in person during the fall (October) in Oklahoma City. While discussing the conference, Chuck Mills and Jim Collard called on the OKGIT to form an OKGIT committee that would partner with the District Export Council to make arrangements for the conference. Anyone interested in joining this committee should contact Jim Collard.

–       Kevin Chambers working as an FDI champion for Southern Region to recruit companies to invest in the United States and the acting director for the U.S. Department of Commerce office in Romania where he may be stationed soon for some time. Anyone who has work to do in Romania for the next couple of months should contact Kevin.

Following the report from the U.S. Commercial Service, Chairman Scott Thompson informed the membership that arrangements were being made for the annual Gavel Ceremony to take place in March. Logistics regarding the ceremony will be shared with the group once it is received.

Upon the completion of all the reports, the membership held a group discussion revolving around the ways COVID-19 impacted the OKGIT membership, the way Oklahoma’s international relations have changed and how OKGIT can advance in 2021. In this discussion, Jose Sagarnaga proposed the OKGIT form a FDI and Trade Committee. The proposal will be discussed further at the March meeting.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9th at 9:00 a.m. We look forward to seeing you.