Governor-elect Kevin Stitt announced the appointment of Sean Kouplen as the next Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development, a cabinet position that will require Senate confirmation, and the hiring of Brent Kisling as the next executive director of the Department of Commerce.
“Sean Kouplen is a proven business leader and entrepreneur, full of vision, energy and passion for seeing our state thrive and achieve Top Ten status. His reputation and network, both in the state and nationwide, will help propel Oklahoma forward to achieve a robust recruitment agenda,” said Stitt. “Brent Kisling will provide a dynamic partnership with Kouplen, bringing a successful record of developing rural economies, crafting and executing major infrastructure projects and recruiting new job creators to our state. With their leadership, the Department of Commerce will play an integral role in Oklahoma’s Turnaround as the agency’s mission will focus on growing our state and diversify Oklahoma’s economy.”
Upon confirmation, Sean Kouplen will serve on the governor’s cabinet in an unpaid capacity, casting vision for the Commerce Department and playing a strategic leadership role in recruiting business growth and in the development of Oklahoma’s workforce.
Kouplen will also continue his role as Chairman and CEO of Regent Bank in Tulsa. Under Kouplen’s leadership, the bank has grown in size from $72 million to almost $600 million in assets since 2008. Kouplen has been named Central U.S. Community Banker of the Year, Oklahoma Small Business Financial Champion, one of Journal Record’s Most Admired CEO’s, Citizen of the Year in Bixby, Top National Young Alumni by his fraternity, and Top 100 MBA of the Century by Oklahoma State University (OSU). Kouplen has held numerous local and statewide leadership positions and currently serves on the Board of Directors for MetaFund, Hillcrest South Hospital, OSU Foundation, SouthPoint Church and is a member of Young President’s Organization and Oklahoma Bankers Association. Kouplen holds B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from OSU.
“I am excited to work with the outstanding professionals in the Department of Commerce to grow Oklahoma’s economy. Our goals are to aggressively target businesses to expand in Oklahoma and educate all Oklahoma business and community leaders about our excellent economic and community development programs,” said Kouplen. “As a business owner and CEO, I bring a very pragmatic, strategic approach to the position. We will target those businesses, inside and outside the state of Oklahoma, who are most likely to expand here. We will also work hard to tell our story to fellow Oklahomans. Our state has many remarkable business success stories and we want to highlight those and inspire the next generation of Oklahomans to stay right here and do great things.”
As Executive Director, Brent Kisling will oversee the operations of the Department of Commerce and will report to the secretary of commerce. Kisling is currently the executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance where he is has worked since March 2009. Previously, Kisling served 8 years as the State Director for the USDA Rural Development in Oklahoma, an appointed position under the George W. Bush Administration. From 2001 to 2009, he oversaw the rural housing, utilities, and business programs statewide. Kisling has also served as the Chair of Leadership Oklahoma, the Governor’s Economic Development Marketing Team, the Oklahoma Economic Development Council, the Career Tech Foundation Board, and the OSU Ag Alumni Board. In 2008, he was named one of the Top 40 Achievers Under 40 in Oklahoma by The Journal Record. Kisling is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a resident of Enid where he is raising his two children with his wife, Jennifer.
“Brent will do an amazing job as Executive Director,” said Kouplen. “He is a very well-respected leader and economic development professional in our state. Brent will direct the Department of Commerce on a day-to-day basis while I will provide strategic support and focus my time on telling Oklahoma’s story and actively recruiting new business. We will function together much like a Chairman and CEO in a business setting.”
“Sean and I have been friends for many years and I am thrilled to be working with him to help create an environment for businesses to grow in our state,” said Kisling. “Our vision for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce is to aggressively work with our state’s legacy companies to add jobs and investment and to actively pursue new industries to locate here. We will work closely with local communities by providing creativity, support, and incentives to help them prosper. Our job is to tell the world about Oklahoma’s many competitive advantages including our strong quality of life, low cost of doing business, low tax burden and excellent workforce.”