Student in the Lab

The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce both identified biotechnology as one of the target industries for business expansion. Early in 1998, J. Donald Capra, M.D., new President and Scientific Director of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation , said "Oklahoma has all the key ingredients to incorporate biotechnology as a core industry." Dr. Capra called for a collective effort in the state to make Oklahoma a "major player in biotechnology." In September 1998, Governor Keating announced the appointment of Arthur "Skip" Porter as Oklahoma's first Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology Development, for the purpose of "helping Oklahoma become the national leader in science and technology cooperation, development and research." Thus, interest for biotechnology in Oklahoma is growing, and has broad public and private support.

Workforce availability is one key factor in bringing more biotechnology industry to Oklahoma. The biotechnology training program at Oklahoma City Community College was formulated in 1997 in direct response to Oklahoma ambitions for biotechnology industry. The mission statement of Oklahoma City Community College, as written in A Vision for Student Success in the Twenty-First Century, reads: "The College is Oklahoma City's community college and as such is: widely known for making a difference in students' lives; a leader in implementing and using technology; a major resource for community and economic development; and an important partner with public and private entities in providing quality education and services to an ever-growing and diverse student population." In keeping with its mission, the OKC Community College supports the Oklahoma biotechnology vision by training workers for the industry.

Oklahoma City Community College has been supported in this initiative with a grant of $250,000 from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for workforce development. With these funds the college has constructed and equipped a state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratory. To date over 60 students have graduated with a biotechnology degree from OCCC, with the majority of them working in the field or continuing their education in a related life science field.

Thus, both local public and private institutions share the vision of biotechnology in the future of Oklahomans, and Oklahoma City Community College is in the forefront of the initiative.