By Adam Wilmoth
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
General Electric’s $110 million Oil and Gas Technology Center has found a home east of downtown Oklahoma City near the University Research Park, GE executives said Thursday.
Construction on the 95,000-square-foot research center will begin in the spring, and the building is expected to open in the spring of 2015.
“We picked Oklahoma City because it is in the heart of the oil and gas space,” said Mark Little, GE’s chief technology officer. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be going there.”
GE executives said the company will spend $110 million on the building, the equipment and the startup cost to get the center operational.
The center will be between NE 10, N Walnut Ave., Harrison Avenue and N Stiles next to the State Chamber. Local architectural and design firm Miles Associates was selected to lead the design of the facility.
GE announced in April that Oklahoma City would be home to the company’s ninth global research center and the first dedicated to one industry.
“GE Global Research is the central technology organization for the company. We support every GE business from GE health care to our power and water business to aviation to the oil and gas business,” Little said Thursday. “We believe very strongly that we have the people and the resources to bring to bear in a meaningful way in the oil and gas space with great GE technology.”
GE has invested about $14 billion since 2007 to develop technical capabilities that can deliver productivity gains and foster innovation for customers, Little said.
“The new GE Global Research Center in downtown Oklahoma City will enable our researchers and students access to scientific and technical expertise involved in the foremost ground breaking research endeavors aimed at ensuring the exploration and production of oil and natural gas is conducted in a responsible and efficient manner. We look forward with high anticipation to collaborating with GE and our colleagues at the Universities of Oklahoma and Tulsa to support energy advancements,” said Burns Hargis, president of Oklahoma State University.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said the research center is an endorsement of the city’s economic development efforts.
“Getting one of America’s most successful and admired companies to further invest in Oklahoma City is a great validation to how far we’ve come,” Cornett said.
“They have typically grown these research centers. We’re hopeful this will be another one of their success stories,” he said.
Former Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Ming has been named general manger of the Oklahoma City center.
Ming said the site was chosen because it was near the research park, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the State Chamber, the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics, downtown and the city’s large oil and natural gas companies.
The new building is expected to house 130 GE employees and generate $13 million annually in economic impact for the state and metro area.
Gov. Mary Fallin also contributed $3 million from her Quick Action Closing Fund. A GE spokesman said that money would be used for equipment in the center. GE also will be eligible for the state’s Quality Jobs program, which awards incentives based on new jobs.
“GE’s new Oil and Gas Technology Center will not only make a great addition to the Oklahoma City skyline, it will be a beacon for attracting international attention from oil and gas partners around the world who value GE’s technology excellence in the energy sector,” Fallin said. “By establishing such strong research and development roots, we are planning new seeds of growth that will lead to more jobs and more economic activity for Oklahoma.”
Until the new building is operational, the research center will be housed in leased space in City Place. The center has five employees now, and another eight jobs have been posted.
“We expect to have a pretty aggressive hiring ramp-up to get to a target number of 130,” Ming said. “Most will be technical professionals.”