battery plant, Project Carrot
(Mike Allen)

Well we tried. The Oklahoma Legislature may need some energizing after Panasonic chose De Soto, Kansas, as the location for their new electric vehicle battery plant this past week.

Oklahoma lawmakers created a new state business incentive program this spring in an attempt to recruit the company to the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, an effort that became known as “Project Ocean.” But the Japanese company apparently found the $1.3 billion Kansas incentive project too lucrative to turn down. Oklahoma proposed direct rebates totaling more than $650 million, but that framework came up short — at least for now.

Curiously, Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) was quoted as saying, “I wish that we would have worked harder to get it, but we didn’t.”

Thompson’s comment makes you wonder what exactly happened behind the scenes. Kansas was offering more money, sure, but were there other factors at play?

Thompson confirmed that there are rumblings of another Panasonic battery plant potentially in Oklahoma’s future, but that remains to be seen. Maybe Energizer needs a home? If state leaders launch Project Carrot, that means conversations about economic incentives will keep going and going ….

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