Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Alliance was formed as an Oklahoma 501c6 nonprofit organization in 2006. The organization was created in response to a key recommendation of the 2004 Report of the Governor’s Aerospace Task Force, to establish a single industry voice through an association. The organization was established with state funding and an executive director was hired.
After a fledgling start, the organization was put to rest in 2007 and resided as a program under the direction of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and its Aerospace Advisory Council.
In 2008, SpiritBank, a vibrant family owned Oklahoma bank with ambitions to help support a growing industry in the state, offered their resources to hire a new executive director that could revitalize the Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Alliance (OADA). Mary E. Smith was selected as a loaned executive to the OADA. Ms. Smith, a former deputy director at the Tulsa Airport Authority had experience creating and developing the Tulsa Aerospace Alliance, working with state and local government, helping with the initial creation of the Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Alliance, and developing collaborative relationships throughout the state. To boot, she has a private pilot license as well.
One of the first tasks of the OADA was to rally membership support and input from aerospace companies across the state on a proposed legislative bill to improve aerospace workforce incentives in the state with the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission as the lead. The effort was celebrated by the passage of House Bill 3239, also known as the Aerospace Industry Engineer Work Force Bill.
In early 2009, the OADA took over the financial and production responsibility of the 8th annual statewide Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Summit & Expo with a team of volunteers, formerly handled by Rose State College. With only 4 months to plan this event and a change of venue from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, the OADA reached out to government, aerospace and non-aerospace companies across the region to participate. It successfully reached 1000+ attendees in its first year attempt at production and raised an excess of $70,000 to help fund annual operations.
In the fall of 2009, a renewed commitment to the industry association was sealed with a full board of 13 active directors and newly approved bylaws. The organization was now in full motion.
2010 marked the beginning of more growth in new program offerings such as MRO University to assist in upgrading skills and provide a means to quickly organize company-driven needs for certifications. This program provides a platform for all educational institutions to work together across the state and support aerospace.
The future of the organization rests in the Oklahoma aerospace community’s hands as OADA continues to grow membership, seek funding, and provide company preferred benefits and programs.
Please feel free to contact OADA.