The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the March 2023 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.
After the approval of the January 2023 meeting’s minutes, Treasurer Andrew Ranson gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Andrew informed the OKGIT membership of finances for January and February 2023.
Following the treasurer report, Scott Thompson introduced Steve Smith from Vacuwork who attended the meeting as a visitor.
During the Cultural and Cultural Committee report, Past Chair Douglas Price updated the membership about the upcoming International Recognition Day at the State Capitol on April 19 at 8:30. Members interested in attending may contact Executive Director Jared Scism to RSVP.
Following the Cultural and Education Committee report, Vice Chair Enrique Villar presented a layout of the programs for the 2023 OKGIT bimonthly meetings. The programs this year during the meetings will include Mercosur in May, Pacific Alliance in July, Free Trade Agreements in September and NAFTA/USMCA in November.
After the Program Committee report, Andrew Ranson shared details regarding a recent meeting he had with the Oklahoma Business Roundtable regarding sponsorships for the upcoming Oklahoma Consular Trade Summit. Upon sharing these details, Scott Thompson recommended making a sponsorship banner. Chuck Mills concluded the report by suggesting the organization create a program for sponsors to give to the OKGIT at any time throughout the year with different sponsorship levels that can receive various benefits (i.e. attending our events for free) rather than requesting for funds for each event individually.
Vivi Milakovic closed the committee reports by informing the group about the Sovereignty Summit coming up on June 14 and 15. Vivi also shared the Canadian Consul in Dallas will be coming to the ITTIO (Intertribal Tribal Trade and Investment Organization) on June 18-19 in Durant.
At the completion of the committee reports, Marcus Verner from the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) kicked off the reports from the various government departments. During his report, Marcus announced Oklahoma companies would bid on World Bank projects from March 14-15. Marcus also informed the membership about the District Export Council working with the Governor’s International Team to plan the 40th annual World Trade Conference on April 5th. Marcus closed the report by telling the group that the US Department of Commerce is preparing for Select USA and other various trade events taking place in the coming months.
During the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) report, Christy Busch announced Nicole Boyles was recently appointed as the Director of International Trade and Exports at ODOC. The team was also informed of ODOC’s recent meeting with a delegation from Chihuahua, Mexico where they met with OSU regarding agriculture and also had an automotive roundtable. The report concluded with Christy sharing that ODOC is currently trying to host two ambassadors sometime this spring and requested the support of OKGIT should any receptions take place.
After Christy Busch’s report from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Cathleen Skinner from the Oklahoma Department of Education (ODOE) shared that ODOE was working to connect business partners and students. Cathleen also talked about the ways ODOE is working to find solutions to help World Language programs as the state has lost some Chinese programs and plans to move some its assistance from China to Taiwan. Cathleen also shared that universities were reaching out to ODOE to set up concurrent enrollment at OU for Russian classes and Cherokee at Rose State College. Cathleen ended her report by talking about elementary schools are working to get world languages back into schools as businesses are beginning to express the need for fluent speakers in the fields of construction, banking, oil, and gas from leadership roles to line work roles. Furthermore, there is a state statute that language options are offered in schools, and it is essential Oklahoma provide these options in order to become more competitive. Oklahoma currently has MOU’s for foreign language with Spain, France and Taiwan, but would like to have more.
Following the Oklahoma Department of Education report, Jarrett Jobe from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) shared the recently released strategic plan of OSRHE known as Blueprint 2023. More details about the Blueprint can be found here. Jarret also talked about partnerships that are being made to make education pipelines from CareerTech, two year and four years around nursing. OSRHE is also currently examining models of higher education in other states and how that applies to international students. Currently 80% of all in state students and 60% of out of state students (excluding international students) stay in Oklahoma upon completing their undergraduate degrees. Jarrett closed his report by sharing that Rhonda Baker and others are looking at curriculum with plans to place stronger emphasis on STEM and developing out courses. There are also considerations to have an interim study looking at curriculum where the world languages discussion could emerge.
During the Select Oklahoma report, Andrew Ranson discussed the different things Select Oklahoma accomplished prior to the start of the gavel ceremony which included a coffee reception followed by meetings with the Speaker of the House, and Senate Pro Tem and presentation of awards for the “Advocate of the Year” to one House and one Senate member who were supportive of economic development objectives. Select Oklahoma also focused a lot of their attention during the past month to reaching out to legislators to get support for a funding mechanism tied to a potential large company investment which included an “all call” earlier in the week to mobilize the group.
At the conclusion of all the reports, Honorary Consul of Switzerland Rico Buchli informed the membership about a recent invitation to the Consular Corps from the Oklahoma Business Roundtable for a briefing and presentation. At the briefing, Rico participated from the Swiss Business hub which is now trying to establish a Blue Ammonium plant in Louisiana and make connections to Oklahoma in view of low carbon gas. Rico is also trying to broaden the relationship and working to build a relationship with Select Oklahoma. Rico ended his report by mentioning that Sister Cities would be honoring Asian Sister Cities at Grand House on Tuesday, March 28th.
New business in the meeting consisted of updates about the OKGIT Task Force and the upcoming World Trade Conference/Consular Trade Summit. During the OKGIT Task Force updates, Task Force Chair John Curzon shared that the task force was meeting immediately following the OKGIT bimonthly meeting to review the results of the survey that was recently sent out to the membership which would involve discussions around our relationship and integration with the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and Select Oklahoma.
Following John Curzon’s update about the Task Force, Treasurer Andrew Ranson updated the group about the upcoming Oklahoma Consular Trade Summit and World Trade Conference that will be held on Wednesday, April 5th at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. The event will include collaborations with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma City Chamber, Partner Tulsa and Tulsa Ports. There has been a positive response of Consuls Trade reps with five countries currently registered. At this time budget and sponsorships are a moving target, but carry over funds from previous years will need to be used to fund some of the event. Please visit any of the links below to register for any of the events if you plan to attend:
- Click here to register for the Oklahoma Consular Trade Summit Breakfast
- Click here to register for the Oklahoma World Trade Conference Registration
- Click here to register for the Oklahoma Consular Trade Summit Reception Registration
There was no program portion of the meeting this month.
Chairperson Enrique Villar adjourned the meeting by inviting the membership to the next meeting on May 16 at 9:00 a.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. We hope to see you there.