NORMAN — Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Michael Ming announced Wednesday that he will leave his cabinet-level position by the end of the month to assume leadership of GE’s new Global Research Center to be located in the Oklahoma City metro area. Potentially, two Norman sites are under consideration by GE for the coming research facility.
In April, Ming joined Gov. Mary Fallin and GE CEO Jeff Immelt to announce the new research facility, which will focus on the oil and gas sector. The new center will be a showcase for GE customers from around the world and will create at least 125 jobs.
“As secretary of energy, I’ve worked with Gov. Fallin to ensure that Oklahoma remains a leader, not just in energy production, but in energy research and the development of cutting-edge technologies,” Ming said. “The decision to locate this new, state-of-the-art facility in Oklahoma is a huge victory for the state.
GE’s Global Research Center will spur economic growth and continue to enhance Oklahoma’s reputation as a global hub for energy companies. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the work being done there, and to build on the tremendous partnership between one of the world’s finest companies and the state of Oklahoma.”
The GE Global Research Center will be dedicated to driving oil and gas innovation and technological advancements and accelerate the product development process. The Oklahoma location will become GE’s eighth global research center and the first to be sector specific. GE’s global research network includes more than 50,000 scientists and engineers.
Gov. Fallin thanked Ming for his service on her cabinet.
“My thanks go out to Secretary Ming for his service and for his unwavering dedication to the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “As secretary of energy, Mike has been steadfast in his belief that the Oklahoma energy sector cannot only lift up our economy but fundamentally change the world by leading the push for North American energy independence.
“His work to promote CNG vehicles in state government will also result in millions of taxpayer dollars saved, even as it helps to promote an important energy resource made right here in Oklahoma.
“Secretary Ming is a visionary leader and a tireless advocate for the energy sector and energy consumers. He will be missed in this administration, but we are glad that he will be able to continue his work on energy issues right here in Oklahoma.”
Ming’s new title will be general manager for the Oil & Gas Technology Center. He will be responsible for the overall strategy and leadership of the GE Oil & Gas Technologies Center. Ming will work with other GE leaders to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace and focus on engaging global customers. Ming also will manage a team of engineers and scientists and be involved in a full range of facilities, environment, health and safety, finance, legal and human resource activities.
At least one Democrat voiced what could be characterized as concerns about the potential conflict of interest.
“Today, we found out that Energy Secretary Michael Ming, who was surely involved in the effort to bring the GE Global Research Center to Oklahoma, is leaving his post to go head up this new facility,” Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Sayre said. “The state of Oklahoma handed out more than $3 million in cash payments and tax breaks funded by taxpayer dollars to GE to attract this research facility focused on energy technology. Millions of dollars in cash payments and tax breaks from the Governor’s Closing Fund and the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program were used to close this deal.”
Ivester said he would leave it to people to draw their own conclusions.