Governor Fallin and a delegation of state officials from her cabinet, including OKGIT member and Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Deby Snodgrass, went wheels up on Friday for a visit to the 2015 Paris Air Show.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase Oklahoma as a top destination for the global aerospace industry,” Fallin told the Tulsa World. “We believe Oklahoma’s business climate, strong economy, educated workforce and high quality of life make it an obvious choice for both commercial and military aerospace companies considering expansion into North America.”

Also attending will be cabinet member Stephen McKeever, the secretary of Science and Technology.

Oklahoma’s aerospace industry is known worldwide, and Governor Fallin has become a regular at events like the Paris Air Show as a spokeswoman selling potential investors on the Sooner State.

According to an article on, Choctaw Defense (McAlester)Frankfurt Short Bruza (Oklahoma City)Janeway Machine (Sapulpa)M&M Manufacturing (Tulsa) and Rise Manufacturing (Broken Arrow) also will be part of the delegation.

Despite criticism in the past about the need and costs associated with the governor’s personal attendance at such international events, the delegation’s cost will be paid for by the Oklahoma Business Roundtable.

Yet the trips by high-ranking officials like the governor indicate that the state is serious in attracting investment. Governor Fallin cited the results of her previous attendance at similar air shows overseas in a statement to the Associated Press, touting the investments by Belgium-based ASCO Aerospace, Ferra Engineering of Australia and Swiss-based Oerlikon Balzers.

Once finished in Paris, the governor will continue on to a business recruiting mission in Italy and Germany.

Dr. Jim Collard, John Curzon, Jennifer Springer and Ray Brown, Pipeline Equipment, Inc.

Dr. Jim Collard, John Curzon, Jennifer Springer and Ray Brown, Pipeline Equipment, Inc.

Among the estimated 94,000 attendees to this year’s Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas were several representatives from the Lone Star State’s northern neighbor, including members of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team.

Dr. Jim Collard of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Economic Development Department, John Curzon of CCK Strategies and Jennifer Springer of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce were on hand as group representatives for an evening reception co-sponsored by the ODOC and OKGIT.

“Simply put, it was a great opportunity to showcase Oklahoma for companies from across the country and across the world,” said CPN’s Dr. Collard.

The annual offshore technology conference is an international affair with energy professionals from across the globe converging on Houston to meet and showcase new technologies, practices and ideas. While the conference is focused on energy industry issues, the diversity of industries represented by the 94,000 attendees offers opporunities to discuss issues as wide ranging as international trade, technological updates and financing for future projects.

If you’d like to learn more about the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference or future events like it, visit their website here. If you’d like to learn more about the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team’s participation in the 2015 event, please contact Dr. Jim Collard, John Curzon or Jennifer Springer for more information.


While the focus of presenters at the 32nd annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference was raising Oklahoma companies’ online profile and protecting their digital assets once there, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was on hand to present awards to six companies for their more traditional exporting work.

The 2015 Oklahoma Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting went to Broken Arrow, Okla.-based Control Devices Inc. The firm is a leading manufacturer of pipeline pig tracking and communication equipment for domestic and global customers. Its 48 employees each have specialties in a diverse set of skills, from electronics, mechanical design, software and firmware programming, machining and more.

The Oklahoma District Export Council’s Export Champion Awards went to:

The U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Achievement Certificate went to:


Closing out a successful 2014, Shawnee-based Mills Machine Company was honored by Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello for its innovative commercial success and investment in Oklahoman jobs. Commissioner Costello presented company owner and president Chuck Mills with the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Oklahoma Award.

“I am constantly in awe of Oklahoma and the many successful and profitable private companies that I have been exposed to,” said Costello. “Each of these amazing business owners has a unique story about why they started their company and how it has evolved over the years. I want to honor these entrepreneurs for their commitment to Oklahoma and for their success in creating opportunities for other Oklahomans.”

The award was presented at the company’s Shawnee manufacturing facility on Dec. 18, 2014.

“Our company has been under the leadership of the Mills family for 106 years here in Shawnee,” commented Mills upon receiving the award. “But none of our success would have been possible without our loyal and hardworking employees.”

District 17 Senator Ron Sharp and District 26 Representative Justin Wood, who represent the Shawnee-area at the state capitol, were also in attendance. Both presented commendations to Mills.

Founded by the Mills family in 1908, Mills Machine Company is a leading manufacturer of earth drilling tools. It has become a multimillion dollar company providing a full line of specialty earth boring tools and accessories for water, mining, construction, utility and environmental applications. Under current owner and president Chuck Mills, the company has expanded to new domestic and international markets over the past 35 years.

Mills focus on investment in Oklahoman jobs is reflected in his service as the acting Chairman of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development. Mills’ has previously served as the chair of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team, an organization he continues as an active member.

The Entrepreneurial Excellence in Oklahoma Award recognizes Oklahoma-based entrepreneurs who have created profitable employment for their fellow Oklahomans and to foster a positive business atmosphere. Legislators, local Chambers of Commerce, civic organizations and the public nominate deserving businesses regardless of size or age, though the decision of award winners is left to the labor commissioner.

(Pictured above: (Left to right) Commissioner Larry Costello, Rep. Justin Wood, Chuck Mills, Sen. Ron Sharp, Shawnee Mayor Wes Mainord.)

Kicking off the 2014 school year, public schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa boasted a few new faces amongst its staff. Several certified teachers from Spain began their American-based teaching careers thanks to a three year visa program that aims to bring more bilingual teachers, specifically Spanish speakers, to serve the districts’ students. In Oklahoma City, 31 percent of the student population is English language learners, while in Tulsa the figure is near 20 percent.

Assistance in connecting those teachers in Spain with districts in Oklahoma came through a partnership between the Oklahoma State Department of Education and foreign embassies and academies. Overseeing much of this cooperation is the OSDE’s Desa Dawson, director of the world language education program. Dawson elaborated on her office’s efforts at promoting a different kind of foreign investment in Oklahoma.

What is the exchange program between Oklahoma and schools in Spain and France?

“The students who come to Oklahoma from Spain and France are involved in school partnership exchanges where the students can experience our educational programs while visiting our state. In return our students do the same with their partner schools in France and Spain.

“Some students from the schools in France choose to study specific aspects of our culture, history and education such as fashion, Native American tribes, race relations, math instruction. Others simply come to experience our way of life, and our students do the same in France.

“Our school partnerships with Spain are just beginning. The two Tulsa immersion schools’ students even attend classes in France and Spain along with the students there, and their counterparts travel to Oklahoma to attend school here for weeks at a time.”

Why is it necessary to bring teachers from Spain, with the memoranda of understanding with the embassy and Académie d’Amiens, to Oklahoma?

“Due to a critical shortage of teachers here in Oklahoma, we have been fortunate to utilize teachers from France and Spain to accomplish our desire to give Oklahoma students a beneficial international experience in culture and language.

“Our nation has promoted visiting guest teacher programs for a number of years to take advantage of transnational educational offerings for students and support global competency.

“These programs take place more often at the university level, but are now being seen in PK-12 schools too.”

How does one go about searching out teachers who are fluent in Spanish and English?

“The visiting guest teacher program has been offered by the Embassy of Spain in recent years and now is well established with an interview system to select teachers to meet the needs of school districts in the U.S.

“Representatives from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City public school districts went to Madrid, Spain to interview prospective applicants to the program after candidates were pre-selected by officials there for the specific positions that were needed. We have an education advisor from Spain assigned to Oklahoma and Texas who visited with the two districts prior to last year’s selection process. That same person then oversees the teacher orientation process in Spain prior to the departure and visits with the teachers in the school setting when they are assigned to positions in Oklahoma.”

Why is having these teachers, and MOU like the one that brought them here, important to Oklahoma in economic terms? What practical impact does it have on the state?

“Oklahoma is utilizing these teachers in two different ways at present. The first is to internationalize our curriculum to some extent by learning about other counties and sharing educational methods and expertise. Preparing students to enter into an international workforce is of utmost importance.

“The second benefit is to utilize the language skills of these educators to serve our English language learners as well as to bolster our language immersion programs. The only additional cost is for the J-1 Visa expense for each candidate. The visiting guest teachers are paid the same as Oklahoma teachers with similar education and experience.”

Why is the teaching and learning of languages other than English important to a landlocked state like Oklahoma?

“With the technological advances of today, no state is landlocked anymore! We cannot afford to be left behind in a world that is evolving ever more rapidly. The changes that have been made in language instruction reflect how we interact in the world today. Ultimately, it’s a long term investment in Oklahoma.

“We used to teach students to read and interpret the literature of other cultures in order to understand them. We now must teach students to communicate with the people face-to-face and concentrate on the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in a culturally authentic perspective. This is vital in order to conduct business, settle diplomatic issues, solve problems and advance civilization for peace and prosperity while carefully avoiding misinterpretation. This requires much more time and expertise as well as finding opportunities to interact.

“We welcome these teachers and the unique experience they bring to our students with open arms.”