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Economic Development Grant for the Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award

Logo: Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award.

About the Program
The Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award is designed to highlight successful partnerships and to further cultivate the higher learning environment through State Regents’ Economic Development Grants. Institutions involved in these partnerships provide $500 in other financial support AND receive a matching $500 State Regents’ Economic Development Grant that is applied to either:

  1. The tuition of an employee of the business being recognized.
  2. A paid internship for a current student of the institution to work at the business being recognized.
  3. A faculty externship with the business being recognized.
  4. Enhancement of the partnership with additional equipment, materials or supplies.

Submissions are provided by the institutions and reviewed by a committee of State Regents’ staff and the EDC Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award committee to insure the integrity of the program. Only one partner summary is allowed per institution, with a maximum of 25 annual recognitions if each of the 25 public higher education institutions submits a partner to be recognized. Through outside sponsorship, the State Regents provide one plaque of recognition to honor the business partner and institution leaders for their outstanding partnership. They receive the plaque of recognition at a reception that is held in the spring of each year.

2016 Recipients
The 28 partnerships listed below were recognized for 2016 during the ceremony at the University of Central Oklahoma on March 8.


Cameron University and the Red River Best Chevy Dealers
CU and the Red River Best Chevy Dealers partnership began with a service learning relationship in an advertising class led by Dr. Theresa Billiot of the School of Business and has grown to Red River Best Chevy Dealers donating $5,000 to sponsor the advertising class each semester and to Jim Glover Chevrolet following with $2,000 to help launch CU’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. In return, the dealers receive commercial advertisements, marketing ideas, a vehicle parked at CU’s School of Business for a semester and brand awareness. The students undertake every aspect of creating a commercial. Subsequently, four students won American Advertising Awards sponsored by the Oklahoma City Ad Club in 2014, and 16 students won last year. As the leadership at Jim Glover Chevrolet changed hands in 2015 to Classic Chevrolet, that support was continued. Classic Chevrolet joined the Red River Best Chevy Dealers and contributed a $5,000 donation to CU specifically for the marketing class. BACK TO LIST

Carl Albert State College and Stigler Printing
Stigler Printing has assisted CASC in a variety of ways, including graphic art work for the college’s rebranding efforts, over the past several years. The printer also publishes the Stigler News Sentinel, which publishes CASC’s media releases. Linus G. Williams started the company in 1980, and his grandson Linus Williams now serves as company president. The company employs 45 staff members and is currently the largest provider of Native American printing services in the United States. The company’s services, along with its employee base, have a strong economic impact on not only eastern Oklahoma, but the entire state. CASC president Garry M. Ivey states that, regardless of how busy Linus and his staff are on any given day, they always respond to questions and requests for assistance from the college as though CASC is a top priority. Linus Williams states that relationships are made easier when the company shares the same values as its customers and that the company feels its mission and CASC’s are very similar. BACK TO LIST

Connors State College and the Muskogee County Commissioners
The Muskogee County Commissioners have been steadfast partners with CSC in ensuring the continued economic and social well-being that higher education provides to the residents of Muskogee County. In 2015, the commissioners assisted the college by repairing and revitalizing several roads and entrances on both the Warner and Muskogee Port campuses. College Road, the main road through the Warner campus, was repaved and repainted, and other roads damaged by record rainfall were also repaired. The commissioners also provided additional assistance with major force main infrastructure upgrades, material hauling for farm and athletic field repair, and various other projects across campus, saving the college both time and additional costs. The commissioners actively engage with CSC programs and students on a personal level, dedicating their time to attend functions and support athletic, community and scholarship activities. The partnership with CSC helps the commissioners build a better community in eastern Oklahoma. BACK TO LIST

East Central University and Ram Jack
Steven D. Gregory, inventor and founder of the Ram Jack methods of foundation, and an ECU distinguished alumnus, has been engaged with the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business for years. Ram Jack attends career fairs, offers support to business students by assisting with mock interviews and other professional development activities, and currently employs business students working part-time and as interns. Ram Jack continues to support ECU through Wilburn L. Smith Center of Entrepreneurship activities that include cash prizes and judges for the ECU Tiger Tank Pitch, a competition that features high school and college students pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges, and Oklahoma Business Week camp for the past three years. Last summer, Ram Jack hosted teams of more than 100 high school students for a tour, company overview and leadership discussions. It also provided on-campus judges and volunteers for the weeklong camp that helped ensure the camp's success. BACK TO LIST

Eastern Oklahoma State College and Symbiotic Aquaponic
Over the past three years, a unique partnership has developed between EOSC and Symbiotic Aquaponic, a local company dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and grassroots implementation. The company has provided guidance and direction in the implementation and development of aquaponics for the college. The cooperation between Symbiotic Aquaponic and EOSC has positioned the school on the leading edge of agricultural technology and helped the institution enhance its academic position in the state. The state-of-the-art commercial aquaponic system, housed in EOSC’s greenhouse, has generated significant interest from numerous communities and organizations. It has been a positive attribute for the college and a point of pride for the business. Through this partnership, the two organizations have been working to develop and deliver educational curriculum. It is the only course offering of its kind in the state of Oklahoma. Their ongoing relationship has established them as the credible source on aquaponics in the region. BACK TO LIST

Langston University and ONEOK
ONEOK pledged $1.45 million to Langston that included $500,000 in scholarships for accounting students, allowing them to receive the necessary financial assistance to obtain their degrees. ONEOK’s donation helped Langston’s athletic department install a state-of-the art Nevco video display board at the football stadium for Lions fans to enjoy a new and improved game day experience. Additionally, its support enabled the university to begin construction on a new marquee at the main entrance that will enhance visibility and allow message posting related to weather, events, games, greeting campus visitors, the school calendar and much more. The ONEOK senior-level leadership has spent countless hours on campus with students preparing them for life after graduation. ONEOK has hosted career preparation workshops and provided internship opportunities and post-graduation placement. Langston believes this partnership is a perfect example of ONEOK’s goal to better not only the company, but also the communities it serves. BACK TO LIST

Murray State College and the Chickasaw Nation
The Chickasaw Nation and MSC have been partners in economic development for a long time. The Honorable Bill Anoatubby has been the Nation’s tribal governor for almost 29 years and is a MSC alumnus. With an estimated annual economic impact of more than $13.9 billion to the south central Oklahoma region, the Nation owns numerous businesses in the gaming, hospitality, medical services and radio industries. In addition, it is involved in many businesses supportive to its core businesses. The Nation also operates historical sites and museums including the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur. The Nation has historically supported MSC in its development of many infrastructure improvement projects in Tishomingo, including a hospital, a water tower, buildings on campus and a new visitor center, and it currently has four other projects underway in Tishomingo. The Chickasaw Nation has been the quintessential business partner to MSC. BACK TO LIST

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Osborn Drugs
From academics to athletics, Osborn Drugs and the Osborn family have been avid supporters of higher education and NEO. In 2015, Osborn Drugs made a generous gift to the NEO Foundation, and the lab sciences building was named in honor of Osborn Drugs founders Willie and Jane Osborn. The contribution was used to establish the William E. "Willie" and Jane Osborn Scholarship and to fund future programs and initiatives supported by the NEO Foundation. Osborn Drugs and the family have also endowed two previous scholarships, the JoAn Taylor Scholarship for women in business and the Sam Wynn Scholarship for construction management, as well as an annual scholarship to the NEO basketball program. In 2009, the Osborns were honored with the prestigious Award of Merit for their dedication to NEO, and Mr. Osborn was inducted as a contributor to the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. Osborn Drugs has employed countless students through the years, while offering them a flexible schedule to accommodate their class schedules. The partnership with Osborn Drugs will continue to impact NEO and its students for generations. BACK TO LIST

Northeastern State University and Saint Francis Health System
NSU is pleased to recognize Saint Francis Health System (SFHS) and its core medical lab and the SFHS School of Medical Laboratory Science as its partner. In 2009, NSU officially launched the medical laboratory science (MLS) 2+2 major providing its region with graduates who are well prepared for the demanding career in MLS. Through this close working relationship among NSU, the core lab and the MLS school, the new generations of medical lab scientists are excelling in their application of multidisciplined knowledge and training to meet the escalating demand on lab analysis. In this extraordinary partnership, NSU is proud to provide the rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics education that produces professionally prepared graduates who then earn nationally accredited credentials through the SFHS School of Medical Laboratory Science, and with a job placement rate of 100 percent, are serving the region and improving lives of Oklahomans. NSU graduates are having a huge impact in the critically technical work in the lab and in health care outcomes for the patients and doctors they serve. BACK TO LIST

Northern Oklahoma College and Shell Club Lambs
For more than eight years, NOC and Larry and Christy Shell/Shell Club Lambs have enjoyed a partnership centered on higher education as well as economic development. In 2007, the NOC Sheep Center was established to enhance the educational and promotional opportunities of the agricultural sciences division for students from across the nation. The Shells were vital partners in the implementation of the sheep center by donating a ram and a lamb to the center. In all, five rams, totaling more than $16,000 in kind, have been utilized in the NOC Sheep Center breeding program. The Shells continue to work with the program, offering genetics to enhance the quality of the flock. More than 80 students from across the United States, including Oklahoma, have worked or participated in the sheep production and management course at the NOC Sheep Center. Without this partnership, NOC students would not experience first-class sheep production and management. BACK TO LIST

Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Enid Public Schools
In fall 2015, NWOSU and Enid Public Schools created a unique partnership that led to the development of an early childhood learning lab on the university’s Enid campus. The creation of the learning lab is a direct result of the collaborative efforts to help alleviate the loss of a classroom for four-year-olds on the east side of the city. The lab features a pre-kindergarten classroom for 22 students as part of EPS’s program for four-year-olds. NWOSU students have the opportunity to volunteer, observe and learn in the classroom as they prepare for careers in education, psychology and other fields. The children have participated in the campus recycling program, a reading program and many other campus events. Plans for expansion of NWOSU student involvement for the spring semester are underway and include efforts by the nursing and psychology departments. Both entities believe the program will help attract and grow the next generation of educators to help alleviate a critical teacher shortage in the area. Future growth of the partnership is being discussed by officials from both schools. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma City Community College and Lopez Foods Inc.
Lopez Foods Inc. and OCCC partnered together in 2013 to develop an employee development program to train entry-level and mid-level supervisors. Eddie Rodriguez of Lopez Foods and John Claybon of OCCC worked together to customize a training solution that would enable entry-and mid-level supervisors at Lopez Foods to more effectively lead and manage production teams. The Leadership Development Academy focuses on building productive teams, performance management and accountability, conflict resolution, risk management, situational leadership, and workplace violence. To date, there have been four academies with 90 graduates and another academy just started in January. OCCC also facilitated an academy for Campos Foods, a subsidiary of Lopez Foods located in Tennessee. Since the implementation of this academy, supervisors have increased the productivity and morale of their production teams, increased employee retention, reduced turnover and lowered costs. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Draper Farms
Draper Farms and Jimmie and Carrie Lou Draper have been actively involved in the continuing development of OPSU and have contributed to many campus improvements, including the Noble Cultural and Activity Center, the Garrett Leo Draper Club House at the Aggie Apartments, the science and agriculture building, and the ongoing George and Juanita Gilmore patio coverage project at the science and agriculture building. The Drapers, both OPSU alumni, are also major contributors to the Panhandle State Foundation and are members of the Alumni Ambassador Hall of Fame and the OPSU advisory committee. The historical museum at the Draper Farms headquarters is the site of several community and OPSU events and forums each year. The company also hires OPSU students to work at the farms, and Mr. Draper contributes four antique convertibles to the OPSU homecoming parade and drives the homecoming queen in the parade. This partnership spans several years and has contributed to the education of countless students as well as the growth of the university. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma State University's Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) and Fairview's Best
In 2000, Kris and John Gosney of John’s Farm attended OSU’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) program, Basic Training: A Guide to Starting Your Own Food Business. Since graduating from the bimonthly workshop, FAPC has assisted John’s Farm with the development of certified organic value-added products under the brands Cattle Tracks and Fairview’s Best. More recently, FAPC helped them develop a certified organic pet treat that utilizes organic flour grown on John’s Farm, as well as other healthy ingredients. This formulation is veterinarian approved. In 2016, the treat will be undergoing significant changes to its appearance and packaging. The treat will become a reddish heart-shaped cookie and will be packaged in a printed dog house-shaped carton. This year, FAPC’s continued partnership with Fairview’s Best will include more automated and efficient production of the treat under organic certification. This award will help offset organic certification fees, the cost of a heart-shaped die cut and other production expenses. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Phillips 66
Phillips 66 and OSUIT’s partnership is multifaceted. Phillips 66 assists with curriculum development, donations of equipment and supplies, and financial support when possible. The diversified energy manufacturing and logistics company also arranges guest speakers, sets up workshops and recruits prospective students. Phillips 66 has helped shape OSUIT’s pipeline integrity degree and provided funding to create the Phillips 66 pipeline outdoor integrity lab and the Phillips 66 pipeline integrity classroom in 2014. That same year, Phillips 66 provided scholarships for OSUIT students, as well as contributed to support the Pipeline Integrity Program Safety and Enrollment Management Excellence funds and the International Society of Automation Club activities. The company’s corporate support also extends directly to the workplace by providing student internships, hosting field trips and hiring OSUIT graduates. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City and Tinker Air Force Base
OSU-OKC and Tinker Air Force Base created a unique academic partnership more than two years ago called 4ET or Electronics Engineering Technology Certificate. Driven by the need to further train its workforce, TAFB identified high-performing, full-time employees who, through an open application process, are chosen to participate in this academic degree program while continuing their full-time jobs. Upon degree completion, the students are qualified for high-skilled positions at TAFB. In fall 2014, this innovative program had nine in its first cohort, with 10 entering this fall. The first cohort member graduated with a certificate in December 2014. Feedback from the cohort members has far exceeded all expectations of TAFB and OSU-OKC. They emphasize that the program has improved their job skills, increased their pride in their work and motivated them to continue with their educational goals. Many will continue toward an associate degree and beyond. BACK TO LIST

Redlands Community College and the U.S. Department of Agriculture
The partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Redlands has produced numerous projects, such as the INBRE Women in Science Program, the UR NASA Internship Program, the Blue STEM Agrilearning Project and various others. The Southern Plains Climate Hub and the Redlands Royse Ranch Living Laboratory are two other projects driven by this partnership. The Southern Plains Climate Hub partners scientists with area agriculture producers in three states to address the extreme climate conditions and the impact on agricultural production. The second is a joint project with the National Resource Conservation Service, the Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to turn the Redlands Royse Ranch into a living laboratory to assist producers in learning about various farming techniques that may enhance soil health and improve production. These projects allow students to have hands-on learning experiences working alongside the USDA research scientists and technicians. BACK TO LIST

Rogers State University and the ONEOK
ONEOK’s dedication to community has been seen through its support of higher education in Oklahoma, particularly at RSU. The ONEOK Foundation has been investing in RSU and the success of its students since 1998, including the establishment of the ONEOK Foundation Scholarship that provides financial assistance for RSU students. The company also partners with RSU through its Executive in Residence series, which allows students to interact with company officials and help better prepare them for joining Oklahoma’s workforce after graduation. Most recently, ONEOK supported the construction of RSU’s Chapman dining hall, which opened in 2014. The building provides a dining facility for all students and features a basement storm shelter large enough to hold all campus residents during inclement weather. Through ONEOK’s support, the university installed a natural gas generator to keep the facility operational during electrical outages. The generator was an essential component for the project and provides peace of mind for both students and parents. BACK TO LIST

Rose State College and the United States Fab Lab Network
The partnership between Rose State and the United States Fab Lab Network has forged a common agenda to foster and promote higher education. Fab Labs engage students and educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Rose State’s Fab Lab, the first community-based fabrication laboratory hosted by an Oklahoma educational institution, opened in November 2014. The Fab Lab has become the hub for entrepreneurialism, academic study and community engagement. The facility is also an educational commodity for the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base. A senior Tinker leader recently proclaimed that the Fab Lab will be an extraordinary resource for the center’s peacekeepers. This noteworthy partnership continues to grow and as a result, Rose State has established an educational and STEM training pathway that will stimulate community and economic growth and develop the workforce for tomorrow. BACK TO LIST

Seminole State College and Oklahoma Southeast
Oklahoma Southeast (OKSE) is an economic development group consisting of 20 communities and counties in southeastern Oklahoma. The SSC Rural Business and Resource Center (RBRC) has been a member for more than 10 years, and the partnership with OKSE has created jobs and economic growth in several of the college's five-county work areas. OKSE offers businesses a unique environment with a wide variety of available incentives, some of the lowest labor costs in the country, low tax rates, and a ready and able workforce. Over the past seven years, OKSE has played a major role in economic development in Seminole, Wewoka and Okemah. One new industry and several commercial/retail projects have located in the service area, due largely to these efforts. OKSE is also involved with Murray State College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University and their leaders. RBRC, the Department of Commerce and many other resources partnering together with Oklahoma Southeast is a win-win situation for Seminole State College and the areas it serves. BACK TO LIST

Southeastern Oklahoma State University and First United Bank
The partnership between Southeastern and First United Bank, a family-owned, Oklahoma-based bank, has lasted for two generations. Greg Massey serves as president and CEO of the bank and carries on the family tradition started by his father, John, as a leader not only within his own community of Durant but also throughout the state. Massey and the team at First United are committed to the economic development of the community of Durant through their contributions as a significant employer in the region and an economic engine within the state. This partnership includes participation in building projects, scholarship programs, alumni activities and programs dedicated to seeing the university thrive. Additionally, the support they provide the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, which has been housed at Southeastern since its inception 31 years ago, shows their desire to see small businesses thrive not only in the communities they serve, but throughout Oklahoma. BACK TO LIST

Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Bar-S Foods
SWOSU is proud to partner with Bar-S Foods, a dominant player in the packaged foods industry, leading in their major product categories – franks, sliced luncheon meats, sliced bacon and smoked sausage. Bar-S has facilities in Altus, Clinton, Lawton, Seminole and Elk City. SWOSU and Bar-S have partnered on the university’s training and student intern programs. By identifying emergent leaders and by giving those workers the right training and tools to make them successful once they are promoted, Bar-S ensures that its operations remain strong, stable and prosperous. Through a partnership with SWOSU’s Center for Economic and Business Development (CEBD), Bar-S has recruited new employees from the student intern program and has enhanced the skills of its current employees with the supervisory training program. CEBD internships provide students with real-world experience. The CEBD’s training program focuses on team building and leadership, taught by some of SWOSU’s finest faculty and administrators, which gives supervisors the confidence they need to relate to employees. BACK TO LIST

Tulsa Community College and AAON
Since the founding of AAON in 1988, it has maintained a commitment to design, develop, manufacture and deliver heating and cooling products to perform beyond all expectations. AAON, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment manufacturer, has a long-standing partnership with TCC’s engineering technology and English as a second language (ESL) program. With regard to engineering technology, AAON is deeply invested in employee education and development and, to that end, reimburses employee tuition to attend a specific curriculum of TCC courses that can lead to raises and higher-level positions in quality technology and manufacturing engineering. AAON is also one of Tulsa’s most diverse employers, employing a sizable workforce who speaks English as a second language. AAON partners closely with TCC’s ESL department to raise the language skills of employees to provide them with increased upward mobility within the company and to help them become the best employees they can be. BACK TO LIST

University of Central Oklahoma and the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
UCO and the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2013 agreed to share space for a new classroom/conference room at the chamber’s headquarters. As a result of the partnership, UCO has partnered with the chamber to offer bilingual workshops for small businesses and is advising on other academic classes to be offered on-site. UCO also conducts Gates Millennium Scholars workshops and ACT preparation sessions and participates in all chamber events to promote enrollment and scholarship opportunities at the university. This partnership has assisted UCO in addressing cultural, retention and persistence issues for Hispanic students. Chamber leaders serve as speakers and role models to UCO’s students through presentations on campus. Likewise, the chamber is a conduit for Hispanic students who are seeking opportunities to serve their cultural communities through service learning projects. This highly successful partnership has exceeded everyone’s expectations, and as chamber CEO David Castillo says, the best is yet to come. BACK TO LIST

University of Oklahoma and Microsoft Corp.
In 2015, OU and Microsoft Corp. formed a Digital Alliance program to support the promotion and establishment of initiatives that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and economic development for OU and its state and local government partners. The goal of this program is to increase STEM overall, especially among women. The STEM initiatives include six programs supported in part by Microsoft, including YouthSpark in Schools, YouthSpark LIVE, DigiGirlz Camp, BizSpark Training Session for Entrepreneurs, DreamSpark for Students and the IT Academy. The first Digital Alliance event, DigiGirlz Camp, was held on OU’s Norman campus in October with more than 85 girls in attendance. This camp gave middle and high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with STEM industry professionals and Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Additional events are planned throughout the year. BACK TO LIST

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and HSI Sensing, Hermetic Switch Inc.
HSI Sensing headquarters are located in Chickasha, with laboratory and manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and California. Working in conjunction with the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and its Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematics program, a member of USAO’s math faculty, Dr. Quan Tran, directed a group of students in analyzing the relative success of several HSI Sensing marketing campaigns that resulted in ranking best value outcomes and return on investment options. The students also did a simultaneous study for DEKA Research and Development located in Manchester, New Hampshire, to verify the company’s own study to determine the volume of a tumor given tomographic data of the region surrounding the tumor. In addition to reporting their findings to both companies, the student researchers also presented the results of their work at the MAA’s MathFest Conference in Washington, D.C., in August 2015. BACK TO LIST

Western Oklahoma State College and AT&T
Western began the 2015-16 academic year with student success as one of its strategic priorities and launched several new campus initiatives, including the implementation of new peer and professional mentoring programs. These student success initiatives were important because the college was lacking a central depository for all information related to student success, including attendance, grades and behavior. Through the generous support of AT&T, Western will enhance its Navigating for Success program, which gathers data from retention software and from professional and peer mentors. This program uses the information collected from the recently incorporated initiatives to target students who are at risk of dropping out or failing. The support of AT&T affirms its commitment to investing in education and helping fund programs that put students on a path to success. Western is appreciative of AT&Ts generous support of its Navigating for Success program and looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. BACK TO LIST

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and Chartwells
Four years ago, Chartwells graciously offered to sponsor the Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award ceremony. Each year, this sponsorship has exceeded expectations with exceptional service and exquisite cuisine. Chartwells is recognized nationally as the leading contract food service provider in higher education. The company strives to connect with the customers and personalize its service. BACK TO LIST




USDA Rural Development (external link)

Oklahoma City Human Resources Society (external link)

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (external link)

i2E (external link)

Resources for Student Veterans and Active-Duty Military

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (external link)