Commerce Secretary

Sean Kouplen, Oklahoma secretary of commerce and workforce development, discusses the state’s vision and goals on Monday. (Photo by Johnny McMahan)

Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen lead the November Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday afternoon, giving an update on how he is working with Gov. Stitt and various agencies to make Oklahoma a Top Ten State.

Kouplen began by explaining Stitt’s approach to government.

“So the way that the governor thinks about government is that it’s a big service company,” Kouplen said. “He thinks of it like it’s a 32,000 person service organization, he’s the CEO, the cabinet heads are the division heads within this company, the legislature is the board of directors… And the 162 agencies are basically the departments within this big company.”

Stitt has created a vision to make Oklahoma a Top Ten State. According to Kouplen, each cabinet head has to create a Top Ten plan.

“I have 36 agencies that I work with on a day-to-day basis, and so I basically had to take those and create what this Top Ten looked like,” Kouplen said.

According to Kouplen, Top Ten within economic and workforce development includes the following:

1. GDP growth

2. Increase labor participation

3. Generating capitol investment

“If you look at the last three quarters of GDP growth within the country, Oklahoma has been top five in all three quarters,” Kouplen said. “If you look at those three together, we are number two in the country in economic growth over the last three quarters, which is very exciting.”

Kouplen went on to explain the core values of the cabinet.

“You have to have a desire to make a difference,” Kouplen said. “You have to have a get it done attitude. You have to be coachable and humble… You have to be street smart… And you have to be a team player.”

Kouplen describes the group as being cohesive and they focus on changing the trajectory of Oklahoma.

The governor focuses on government accountability, education reform, healthcare reform, digital transformation, economic development, and criminal justice reform, according to Kouplen.

Kouplen said that workforce development has been the biggest part of his job.

“Our top priority is branding,” Kouplen said. “We feel very strongly and we’re working with the Lt. Gov. to create a brand for Oklahoma.”

Kouplen stressed the importance of branding because the current perception of Oklahoma is wrong.

“It’s not accurate,” Kouplen said. “It doesn’t take into account all the development and growth and resources and things that we have in this state.”

Kouplen also aims to enhance focus on existing businesses, workforce development, recruitment, hands-on communication with our communities, increase private equity funding, and improving diversity and inclusion.

He also wanted to draw attention to a new app called OkJobMatch, which lists open jobs in Oklahoma to help Oklahomans looking for work.

Before opening up for questions, Kouplen ended with the top three things he wanted to share.

1. “It is very possible to run a government according to sound business principles.”

2. “We can compete. Oklahoma can compete.”

3. “This really is a government that cares about all of Oklahoma. It’s not just two big cities that we think about.”

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