“IT’S A HUGE LOSS OF OPPORTUNITY,” PANASONIC STRAYS AWAY FROM OKLAHOMA A SECOND TIME

News 9 - December 28, 2023 6:17 am

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Panasonic has turned down a second multi-million dollar deal to open a battery plant in Oklahoma. This marks the third company to stray away from the state, as lawmakers work to figure out why Oklahoma can’t land these large deals.

Volkswagen, Panasonic, Tesla and now Panasonic again have passed up on Oklahoma because they’re feeling that they can’t attract and retain high quality employees, when they tell them they must move to a state like Oklahoma,” Rep. Mickey Dollens (R-Oklahoma City) said.

Over the past few years, lawmakers have worked to attract companies, largely working behind the scenes, under non-disclosure acts. Around the capitol, these deals were known as “Project Ocean” and “Project Connect” but most of the companies involved, end up planting roots in other states or other countries.

“It’s a huge loss of opportunity, not only for the state and our economic well being, but for individuals and people who could have moved here but chose not to,” Rep. Dollens said.

The deal on the table was that Panasonic would receive $698 million in subsidies if it invests at least $3.6 billion in the plant and creates 3,500 jobs within four years. The plant was set to be located at Mid-America park in Pryor.

A Panisonic spokesperson said in a statement, “after careful deliberations, we have made the decision not to move forward with developing the site.”

Rep. Dollens largely blames education and healthcare laws as the reasons companies turn away from Oklahoma.

“Unfortunately on that surface level alone, is enough for these companies to choose a different state or a different country altogether,” Rep. Dollens said.

House Speaker Charles McCall said in a statement, he’s focused on tax reform in 2024, hoping that will help land some business.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat has also been focused on economic development. He created a full new senate committee that will look at ways to make the state more attractive to these large companies.

“You can incentivize a company with nearly $1 billion to move here, but they’re still turning us down, and in my opinion it’s because of the extreme conservative social issues, and policies that continue to get passed in the state,” Rep. Dollens said.

Governor Stitt said in a statement, he’s “hopeful the state can find another opportunity to partner with Panasonic in the future.”

Full Statement from Governor Kevin Stitt:

“Panasonic had already chosen to go to Kansas last year. We would have been thrilled had both parties been able to sign an agreement earlier to expand here to Oklahoma when market conditions were stronger, but hopefully we can find another opportunity to partner with them in the future.”

Full Statement from Speaker McCall: 

“The Legislature provided that which was requested by the Executive Branch to win the commitment of Project Ocean. Oklahoma remains open for business and we are excited about the economic development advancement we have recently seen in our state, including the 1500 job manufacturing facility under construction by Enel.

This session I will again push for more improvements to our tax structure to make us number one in the country for our citizens and businesses, which will help attract the jobs of the future.”

Full Statement from Pro Tem Treat:

“I’m thankful that Panasonic strongly considered Oklahoma. I also appreciated their objective global perspective on some of Oklahoma’s strengths. We structured the incentive package in such a way that no dollars were spent nor would they have been spent until the company reached certain thresholds of spending and employment.”

Full Statement from Panasonic: 

“Panasonic Energy is always exploring growth opportunities and evaluating ways to strengthen our business and advance the EV industry in the United States. To that end, in April 2023, we entered into an agreement with the state of Oklahoma to explore building a factory in the state, with the understanding that we would make a decision about whether or not to move forward at the end of that exploratory process. After careful deliberations, we have made the decision not to move forward with developing the site.

Decisions about where to position new facilities are extraordinarily complex and are based on a wide range of factors. We are grateful for the conversations we had with officials from across the political spectrum to discuss the potential for Oklahoma to play a role in Panasonic Energy’s growing footprint across North America. This decision will not impact our operations in Nevada or Kansas; we have made a long-term commitment to investing in and advancing the EV industry in the United States, and we remain focused on delivering the highest quality batteries for our customers.”

 

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