Aug 18, 2022 - News

Arkansas to collab with Oklahoma on transportation

Illustration of a car with wings flying through the sky.
Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an agreement Wednesday to jointly make the region a hub for advanced mobility.

Why it matters: Efforts to grow the industry are projected to create up to 55,000 new jobs in fields such as software engineering, cybersecurity analytics, drone piloting, vehicle maintenance, mechanical engineering and industrial engineering, according to a news release from 4Media Group.

State of play: This two-state collaboration isn't happening in a vacuum.

  • Arkansas companies want the state to be a leader in "next-generation transportation" — from drones to flying cars — and Hutchinson earlier this year established a council dedicated to the future of mobility.
  • The University of Arkansas is in the process of developing a fresh plan for education and research in mobility.
  • UP.Summit took place in Bentonville in June, bringing together established transportation companies and fresh entrepreneurs.
  • Electric vehicle maker Canoo recently moved to NWA, and Walmart is buying 4,500 vehicles from the company.

Yes, and: Tulsa-based venture capital firm Atento Capital recently launched 412 Angels, an invite-only network to connect entrepreneurs, investors and would-be investors with early-stage startups in part to build an economic bridge between NWA and Tulsa.

Details: The joint effort includes:

  • Partnering with Tulsa Innovation Labs to establish a "launch pad" at the Helmerich Research Center at Oklahoma State University at Tulsa to fuel research and commercializations, a complement to the recent "smart mobility" planning grant given to the University of Arkansas.
  • Building collaborative programming across assets such as FISTA Innovation Park in Oklahoma, Thaden Fieldhouse in Arkansas and a 110 Nautical-Mile Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) corridor for testing and research for crewless aerial vehicles under development in the Tulsa region.
  • Convening industry leaders such as Walmart, QuikTrip and J.B. Hunt to pilot emerging technologies.
  • Tapping Tulsa Community College, NorthWest Arkansas Community College and Holberton School Tulsa to create accessible workforce development opportunities.
  • Coordinating economic development efforts, including the Oklahoma Aerospace, Autonomous Systems and Defense Council and the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility.
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