September 2, 2022

Tulsa Awarded $38.2 Million EDA Build Back Better Grant

4/25/22 1:43:07 PM — Drone imagery of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo by Shane Bevel

Tulsa Coalition Plans to Create a World-Class Advanced Mobility Corridor, Creating Thousands of High-Paying Local Jobs

The Biden Administration and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced today that Tulsa is one of 21 recipients to be awarded a Build Back Better – American Rescue Plan grant in the amount of $38.2 million. The funds will be used by a Tulsa-based coalition of organizations from the government, nonprofit, academia, and private sectors to create the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) Corridor. The goal of this corridor is to cultivate a diverse hub for research, development, and production in the advanced mobility (AM) industry, resulting in an anticipated generation of 30-40,000 jobs – the equivalent of $3.5-5 billion in economic activity – over the first 2-3 years.

The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) will serve as the lead institution for the coalition’s efforts to build the TRAM Corridor. They will work with multiple partners including Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL), Tulsa Ports, Oklahoma State University, Osage LLC, City of Tulsa, Partner Tulsa and the Tulsa Regional Chamber. Each of these organizations are committed to building a resilient economy for the future of Tulsa, anchored in innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing. The projects that will be created as part of the TRAM Corridor are intentionally designed to address economic disparities particularly among the tribal, black, and minority populations in and around Tulsa.

“This is a huge win for the Tulsa metro as we look to expand advanced mobility opportunities in northeast Oklahoma,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “I want to thank all of our coalition partners for coming together and identifying unique ways that we can put these funds to use. These projects will all have a huge impact on Tulsa and the entire region.”

Build Back Better “is the marquee of the EDA’s American Rescue Plan,” designed to boost pandemic economic recovery and rebuild American communities. The grant will also allow for continued evolution and innovation of advanced mobility. Tulsa is uniquely positioned to build the TRAM Corridor due to its long-standing legacy in the industries of aerospace, oil & gas, and manufacturing. Industry leaders also recognize the potential to create a more inclusive workforce and are committed to the core components of diversity, equity, and inclusion while creating pathways to quality careers for all Tulsans.

“Oklahoma State University is the state’s leader in aerospace and aviation, with specialized infrastructure dedicated to the research and design of unmanned systems,” said President of Oklahoma State University, Dr. Kayse Shrum. “As a land-grant university, we’re committed to using research to address society’s most pressing problems, empowering Oklahoma’s workforce and providing access to a quality education.”

The TRAM Corridor proposed four projects to attract and support growth in the advanced mobility space in Tulsa. The four projects are:

Establishing a 114 nautical mile, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) commercial flight corridor
Increasing R&D activity in the region by opening the LaunchPad Research and Technology  Center located at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, focused on developing new technologies to meet rapidly-evolving industry needs in the advanced mobility sector
Increasing the region’s skilled workforce through the funding of certificate programs, degree programs, and apprenticeships as well as the development of a Labor Market Observatory to consistently track and align the needs of the Advanced Mobility industry to the region’s talent
Constructing a new industrial treatment facility that will treat over 4 million gallons per day of wastewater to make 2,200 acres of industrial property “pad-ready” to attract advanced mobility industries to the Tulsa Port of Inola

“Tulsa Ports has always served as a regional transportation hub and economic driver for our community,” said Chairman of Tulsa Ports’ Board of Directors, Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr. “This final piece of critical infrastructure will provide the 2,200-acre “Tulsa Port of Inola” industrial park the ability to recruit jobs and investment for the benefit of Northeastern Oklahoma and our multi-state region.”

This new grant from the EDA comes on the heels of a recent partnership between Oklahoma Governor Stitt and Arkansas Governor Hutchinson to create a “super-region” for advanced mobility. The collaboration supports the growth of the AM industry–focusing on drones, electric vehicles, battery manufacturing, and transportation and logistics solutions– with the goal of creating new research and testing space, supporting local AM startups, attracting new corporations, and convening industries to test and scale new technologies.

“This honor from the White House affirms Tulsa Innovation Lab’s vision for tech-led economic growth and Tulsa’s right to win in advanced mobility, ” says Jennifer Hankins, Head of Partnerships with Tulsa Innovation Labs. “This is an important step towards realizing our vision and transforming Tulsa into an inclusive, thriving city of the future.”

The region’s unique urban-rural makeup and geographic assets, such as the Helmerich Research Center in Tulsa, and a “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” between the Osage Nation and Oklahoma State University– provide a unique and fortuitous landscape for innovation in new technologies, especially  advanced mobility.

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Michelle Barnett
Svp, Economic & Workforce Development (918) 805-0292