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Thu, Apr 22, 2004

Oklahoma, Where The Lobbyists Come Flying In Their Planes

Aviation Interests Deluge State Capitol

Oklahoma lawmakers just don't know enough about the state's $12 billion aviation economy. That's what aviation industry leaders in the Sooner State are saying. So swarms of lobbyists flooded the fourth floor of the state capitol Tuesday, hoping to shed a little light on one of the state's driving economic forces.

"This industry largely goes underneath the radar screen," said Vince Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. "It hasn't come up here and asked for a lot of things, and there is no statewide association, as of yet, as far as representing the entire industry." Bird was quoted in the Daily Oklahoman.

Representatives from 27 aerospace companies and support organizations filled the corridor between the Oklahoma House and Senate, pumping flesh and hoping to make a good -- lasting -- impression.

"It's during the legislative session, so legislators are very busy. But by bringing this to them, they're a captive audience," Bird said. "As they walk out of their chambers and offices, they're going to be somewhat exposed. I hope we'll be able to communicate to the Legislature and other statewide elected officials that this industry is really vital and critical to the well-being of the Oklahoma economy."

And, yeah, they did a little marketing.

"We have talked to some people in the industry who are local and were not aware that we are here or were not aware of the extent of our capability," said Teresa Roewe, chief financial officer at Jet Service Enterprises, a Bethany (OK) company that services jet aircraft from all over the country.

"We want the Legislature to see what we can do for the industry in our state," said Carl Hatlelid, project director at The Center for Aircraft Systems/Support Infrastructure. "Also, while we've mainly worked with the federal government in the past, we are interested in supporting all of the aviation in our state."

FMI: www.vpr.okstate.edu/CASI.htm

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