OKLAHOMA CITY (OBV) – Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that he is appointing Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell to serve as his secretary of workforce development, saying that Pinnell will put a high level of excitement and energy into recruiting new business to Oklahoma.
Stitt made the announcement Wednesday evening, stating that Pinnell, who currently serves as the secretary of tourism, wildlife and heritage, will become his workforce development secretary.
“Lt. Governor Pinnell is a successful businessman with a talent for fostering economic growth in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “As Secretary of Tourism, his leadership saw the highest visitation levels we’ve had in state history, and I know he will bring that same level of excitement and energy into recruiting talent to Oklahoma.”
Stitt created the position for Pinnell. The lieutenant governor said he looks forward to bringing his business background to the job.
“I am excited to take on the role of Secretary of Workforce Development and help lead the modernization of our economic development practices,” Pinnell said. “As an entrepreneur myself, I know Oklahoma is one of the best places to run a business. Companies are looking for a pipeline of talent to hire a quality workforce and get Oklahomans the jobs they need. I look forward to helping businesses partner with education and career training programs.”
Pinnell was Oklahoma’s first secretary of tourism. His tenure in that position began in January 2019.
The Governor’s Office said Oklahoma experienced the best tourism year in the state’s history – generating $10.1 billion in direct visitor spending and creating 4,000 new jobs – under Pinnell’s leadership.
Pinnell worked with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to launch multiple marketing campaigns that produced more than $100 million in revenue for the state, according to the Governor’s Office.
Mark Funke, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, praised the appointment.
“I think that the lieutenant governor’s knowledge and deep understanding of Oklahoma business is exactly what we need in a secretary of workforce development to help position the state for success and economic development,” Funke said. “I think the state needs to focus its resources and its energy on marketing Oklahoma’s attributes to the nation, and I don’t think there’s anybody better than Lt. Gov. Pinnell to be the state’s chief marketing officer.”
Chad Warmington, president and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma, also said Pinnell is the right person for the job.
“We are excited about the move to name Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell the new secretary of workforce development,” Warmington said. “With some strategic planning, Oklahoma is in a great position to make a big splash on the national economic development scene. We know the lieutenant governor has the right enthusiasm and skill set to take Oklahoma’s business environment to the next level.”
Pinnell already serves on the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Committee, which is focused on small business growth, entrepreneurship and workforce development.
The Oklahoma State Senate will vote on whether to confirm Stitt’s appointment of Pinnell. Pinnell will step down as secretary of tourism, wildlife and heritage to accept the workforce development secretary position if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
Workforce development has been a top priority for Stitt.
Stitt signed Senate Bill 621 into law last month, establishing the Oklahoma Workforce Commission.
The Workforce Commission will direct the state’s workforce development strategy and administer and oversee funding allocated by the legislature for workforce development initiatives. The commission can contract with outside parties to achieve its goals.
“The Workforce Commission will make it easier for existing companies to grow and it will create the skilled workforce we need to attract new businesses to our state. We thank all our members and lawmakers that have worked so hard to make this day a reality,” Warmington said during a ceremony in which Stitt signed SB 621.