By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A $110 million Global Research Center being built in Oklahoma by General Electric (NYSE: GE) could land in Norman, economic leaders confirmed Thursday.
“There are several locations in the metro that are still in discussion for the facility and that includes Norman as part of the Oklahoma City metro,” said Don Wood, executive director, Norman Economic Development Coalition. “They are very interested in a relationship with the University of Oklahoma, and that has helped support the value of a location in our area. We’ll keep working to provide them information so that they can make their decision.”
GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt and Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday that the new facility dedicated to technological advancements in the oil and gas sector will be built in the Sooner state.
“There are at least two locations they are looking at in Norman,” Wood said. “We’re excited that they’ve chosen Oklahoma because that’s the first step in this process. That means we’re not in competition with other states.”
Wood said GE’s decision of a precise location will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
“All we know is that GE is looking for a spot in the Oklahoma City metro area and that includes Norman,” Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin’s office said. “Regardless of where the facility ends up, it’s great news for Oklahoma.”
Fallin attended GE’s Executive Summit in Houston last week.
“She’s been very active in reeling this project in,” Weintz said.
The facility will be GE Research’s first sector-specific center and will create 125 engineering jobs.
“That’s great news for central Oklahoma,” Wood said. “The governor has done a fantastic job in securing this project for central Oklahoma, and we’ll hope for the best as far as it goes for Norman. Without her efforts, we may not have had the same outcome.”
The new research center will become part of GE’s growing global research network. With centers around the world, GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE’s businesses, acting as an innovation incubator to bring products and solutions to market faster, according to a release issued by Fallin’s office.
“Collaboration is key to leading the unconventional resource revolution, and in Governor Fallin and the people of Oklahoma, we’ve found excellent partners,” said Immelt.
The university is fertile ground for such innovative collaboration opportunities.
“The relationship with OU was very important,” Wood said. “That was critical to the success of this project.”
GE has a global network of 50,000 scientists and engineers. The center will initially focus on technologies that enable safe, efficient and reliable production, delivery and use of unconventional oil and gas.
“Unconventional resources, and shale gas in particular, may be one of the biggest productivity drivers of our lifetime,” Immelt said. “At GE, we see a tremendous opportunity in the oil and gas space. Since 2007, we have invested $11 billion to build broad technical capabilities that can deliver productivity gains and foster innovation for our customers.”
GE Oil & Gas is the company’s fastest-growing business, with revenues of more than $15 billion and earnings and new orders having each grown 16 percent in 2012.
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