German auto manufacturer Volkswagen is the latest major company Oklahoma is trying to lure to the state in what is known as Project Connect.
Oklahoma is in the running for Volkswagen to open a battery plant at the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, according to multiple sources familiar with Project Connect.
Dave Stewart, the Chief Administrative Officer for MidAmerica Industrial Park, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce each declined to comment.
Oklahoma is in competition with Canada for the battery plant. Canada has already signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Volkswagen to identify “suitable sites for a cell factory” and an amendment to the memorandum “to secure raw materials” in the country, Volkswagen Vice-President of Communications Cameron Batten told The Frontier on Tuesday. Batten did not comment on Oklahoma’s plans.
According to Reuters, Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume and Canadian industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne signed the Memorandum of Understanding in August of 2022.
Stitt told reporters Friday that Project Connect would qualify for the Large-scale Economic Activity and Development Act, also known as the LEAD Act. However, he wouldn’t give any more details about the project. Those involved in the talks are under non-disclosure agreements.
“We should know by April, but it’s a really big economic development project that we’re looking at in the eastern part of the state,” Stitt said. “It’s just another project on the same lines as Project Ocean and it’s just another group that’s looking for that site.”
The LEAD Act was created by lawmakers in 2022 and is a $698 million fund meant to provide economic development incentives to a major manufacturer that would invest at least $3.6 billion and create 4,000 new jobs in the state within five years.
Project Ocean was the codename for Panasonic when it was considering opening a battery plant in Oklahoma. The Japanese-based company ultimately chose Kansas as its location to open the plant. Last year The Wall Street Journal reported Panasonic was still considering Oklahoma as a possible site to open another battery plant.
Stitt told reporters whoever comes to the table first will likely get the incentives.
“So we’re just saying, ‘Hey, first come, first serve,’ we want the best for Oklahoma,” he said.