The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the July 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.
After the approval of the May 2020 meeting’s minutes, Executive Director Jared Scism gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Jared informed the OKGIT membership of finances for May and June 2020. Jared Scism also announced that Chris Morriss graciously volunteered to take on the duties of the OKGIT treasurer for the remainder of the year.
Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, Douglas Price, chair of the Membership Committee reported that John VanPool from Citizens Potawatomi Nation had resigned, and there were no new perspective members considered for membership at this time. However, Douglas stated that there would likely be members considered for membership at the September meeting.
During the Marketing Committee report, Scott Thompson requested for nominations for a new marketing committee chair after the resignation of John VanPool. The OKGIT marketing committee chair is responsible for overseeing and updating all of the OKGIT social media channels. Immediately following the meeting, Jose Sagarnaga volunteered to become the new chair of the marketing committee. Thank you, Jose, for your service.
The Cultural and Education Committee chair, Cathleen Skinner, informed the membership of President Trump’s proclamation on J1 visas and the effect it would have had on international teachers that come to Oklahoma to teach foreign languages. Fortunately, the State Department made an exception for non-immigrant visas which allows for these teachers to continue teaching in the United States. As a result, Cathleen Skinner requested and received approval from the membership to send a letter of appreciation to the State Department for making these changes.
During the Program Committee report, Shalon Simmons announced the speakers for the program speaker portion of the meeting. The speakers represented the Small Business Administration and came to discuss the CARES Act and incentives for small businesses with the OKGIT membership.
Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about a trade mission to Canada this month and another mission to Columbia in September. Jamie also informed the group that the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has received funding for a couple projects through the CARES Act to assist smaller companies and from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the meat processing industry.
Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce informed the membership that all but one of ODOC’s trade shows for the year had been cancelled. Jesse also updated the group about ODOC working to repurpose it’s STEP grant that will run through the end of September next year. The next STEP Grant, STEP 9, will start in October 1 and run for two years. ODOC has applied for STEP 9 and currently awaiting results. Jesse finished his report by informing the group about the ODOC three-part webinar series. The final and third part entitled, “What every exporter needs to know about export controls” will be held at 9:00 am on July 28th. For more information or registration, click here.
Dr. Cathleen Skinner had several updates from the Oklahoma Department of Education. Dr. Skinner stated that approximately 2,000 students have been affected as a result of J1 and H1B visas and another 3,000 students in Tulsa, including Chinese students. Dr. Skinner also highlighted that Oklahoma now has a seal of biliteracy that allows students to demonstrate levels of proficiency to employers and educational institutions. Dr. Skinner closed her remarks by telling the OKGIT about the different discussions taking place about the reopening of schools. More and more school districts will be requiring masks for staff. There will be a meeting of the state school board next week to discuss this issue.
Jared Scism reported for Debbie Blanke that Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were happy that Homeland Security rescinded their order to send international students home should a university have to go 100% online.
Chief Protocol Officer Chris Morriss reported that the Consul General of India contacted her to set up a Zoom meeting with Governor Stitt in August and that she was asked by USCIS to set up a meeting with the Oklahoma Consular Corp.
Jared informed the group that the U.S. Department of Commerce is actively counseling companies using various platforms and working on STEP assistance. The U.S. Commercial Service is also organizing a Women’s Global Trade Empowerment Forum: a FREE six-part digital series from July 28 – September 22nd. Additionally, 50 women business owners in the Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Education, Design and Construction, Medical Devices and Services, ICT and Energy sectors have the opportunity to register for the six-part virtual forum plus industry-focused activities for a reduced fee of $50. For more information click here.
After the U.S. Department of Trade report, Chuck Mills reported that the District Export Council held elections and chose new officers and also informed the membership that DEC will attempt to hold a virtual World Trade Conference on Thursday, October 22nd.
Following the committee reports and discussion of the World Trade Conference, Jim Collard mentioned that he would like to try and work with the District Export Council to hold a virtual Oklahoma Consular Summit as an additional event on the same day in the afternoon or a different day of the same week as the World Trade Conference. More details coming soon.
Chairman, Scott Thompson reported the Oklahoma Business Roundtable is still discussing funding for the year. At this time, no final decisions have been made.
Lindsay Robertson stated that his wife, Lynne is a past president of the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teacher Association and that they will be hosting a conference soon and are currently seeking sponsorships. Anyone interested in sponsoring this conference by contact Lindsay.
In closing, Jared Scism reported that donations to assist international students with relief efforts had been sent to the universities who currently have members represented in the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team.
Upcoming meetings are as follows:
- September 15thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
- November 17thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
For our program, four employees from the United States Small Business Administration presented information about the CARES Act and incentives for small businesses with the OKGIT membership. For a copy of the presentation, contact Jared Scism.