By Jeff Harrison
The aerospace industry has grown in Oklahoma over the past decade with help from a unique state program.
The Center for Aerospace and Defense Supplier Quality (CADSQ) helps Oklahoma companies win contracts with the Department of Defense and commercial aviation enterprises. The program guides businesses through the intricate, and often times, complex process of government contracts.
Since its inception in January 2007, the CADSQ has brought in about $72 million in new business to the state while creating about $237 million in economic activity and more than 1,200 jobs. Much of that growth has taken place near Tinker Air Force Base.
The program’s success has come despite limited funding from the state legislature. The state provides about $100,000 annually for the CADSQ program, which is part of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. That is far less than the program expected to receive.
State Rep. Tess Teague, R-Choctaw, will explore how the CADSQ program is funded as part of an interim study later this summer.
House Speaker Charles McCall last week approved dozens of interim studies requested by lawmakers and assigned them to House committees. He approved 63 interim studies after receiving 136 study requests from members. The approved studies will cover a range of topics from criminal justice reform and education to economic development and budget reform.
“Interim studies give lawmakers an opportunity to dive into issues more deeply than they can during the busy legislative session, and they allow more time for legislators to hear varying viewpoints and ask more questions so we have a better understanding of the benefits and consequences of enacting particular policies,” McCall said in a press release.
Teague’s study will explore additional funding for the program and determine what type of return on investment the state can expect. Teague said that study will look at possibly moving CADSQ outside of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
The District 101 Republican believes growth in the aerospace industry will help diversify the state’s economy and strengthen its fiscal future. The state legislature has grappled with massive budget deficits due in large part to declining oil and gas prices.
“We need innovative solutions to help our state instead of creating more taxes,” Teague said. “This program helps utilize companies in Oklahoma and invests in our economy.”
Former House 101 Rep. Gary Banz helped created the CADSQ program about 10 years ago.
Teague’s study was combined with others presented by Rep. Kyle Hilbert. The other studies addressed the state’s CareerTech system and possible collaborations between high schools, community colleges and state universities to help address teacher shortages.
This is the first interim study request Teague has submitted since winning office last November.
House committee chairs will now determine the dates and times for holding interim studies, which may be held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only to maximize time and reduce travel costs. The studies can begin August 1 and must be completed by November 8.