OCAST observes 20th anniversary
The state’s technology-based economic development agency marked its 20th anniversary yesterday by thanking a former governor who helped get the idea started and the current governor for working to get the agency more money.
Former Gov. George Nigh and Gov. Brad Henry were presented awards during a brief ceremony capped by anniversary cake on the state Capitol’s 4th-floor rotunda.
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology generates more than $17 in federal and private money for each dollar of state money it receives, said Michael Carolina, the agency’s executive director.
Henry said, “I don’t know of many investments with a better return than that.”
Since 1987, the state has given the agency about $138.6 million, which it has used to garner $2.4 billion in federal and private dollars, Carolina said.
“We are creating the kind of R and D (research and development) excellence in this state that I think 20 years ago we probably wouldn’t have imagined,” he said.
Nigh was “instrumental” in the early work that resulted in the creation of OCAST, Carolina said.
Nigh told the crowd the idea was suggested to him by an Oklahoma City businessman, Don Paulson. Nigh joked that all he did was put Paulson on a committee to look into developing the concept.
“We had this committee, we made recommendations and I’ve got to say the most significant thing we did was plant the seed,” Nigh said.
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