OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma is again trying to attract a new mega-manufacturer to the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor.
Gov. Kevin Stitt let slip Friday that the state is trying to close a multibillion-dollar economic development deal that would bring a large employer to the eastern part of the state.
In talking to reporters, Stitt said the deal would be similar to when the state was trying to attract Panasonic Energy to build a $4 billion electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Pryor. The company ultimately chose to locate its battery plant in Kansas.
Stitt did not provide details on the company that is eyeing Oklahoma. He simply referred to the economic development effort by its codename, Project Connect.
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“We should know by April, but it’s a really, really big economic development project that we’re looking at in the eastern part of the state,” Stitt said.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roger Thompson said Project Connect would be eligible for LEAD Act funding. Through the Large-scale Economic Activity and Development Act, lawmakers created a $698 million fund last year to provide economic development incentives to a major manufacturer that would invest at least $3.6 billion in Oklahoma and create 4,000 new jobs within five years.
The incentives were intended to lure Panasonic to the state.
Thompson said he thinks communication is still ongoing about Project Ocean, the state’s attempt to acquire a Panasonic plant, but he said there are only enough LEAD Act funds for one company to claim the incentives.
News reports last year indicated that Panasonic was still considering Oklahoma for an electric vehicle battery plant that would be in addition to the new factory in Kansas.
“It’s just another project on the same lines as Project Ocean,” Stitt said. “It’s just another group that’s looking at that site. We’re just saying, ‘First come, first served.’”
David Stewart, chief administrator of MAIP, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce also declined to comment.
Staff writer Rhett Morgan contributed to this report.