Oklahoma City, Okla. (Jan. 3, 2019) – Governor-elect Kevin Stitt announced today 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.”
The following are quotes of support for the appointment of Sean Kouplen:
“Governor-elect Stitt has made an excellent choice in selecting Sean Kouplen as his Secretary of Commerce. Sean is a creative and innovative leader. Not only has he led his bank to dramatic growth, but he is also a devoted family man and serves his community in many capacities. Sean will lead the way in developing new economic opportunities for Oklahoma and will provide wise counsel on the Governor’s cabinet.”
– President Burns Hargis, president of Oklahoma State University
“Sean Kouplen has been a close friend for many years and he is a person with tremendous integrity, energy and business acumen. He is a selfless community leader who has built one of the country’s top community banking organizations. His creativity and drive will undoubtedly propel Oklahoma into a top economic growth state.”
– Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA and former U.S. Representative from Oklahoma
“Gov.-elect Stitt’s cabinet selection of Sean Kouplen as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce shows he is working diligently to select proven leaders in business. In addition to being a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Sean is passionate about Native American issues and I know he will strengthen our Nation’s partnership with the State of Oklahoma. We look forward to working with him in his new role and with Gov.-elect Stitt to grow our economy together.” – Principal Chief James Floyd of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation
“I have worked with Sean Kouplen for several years and know him to be a tremendous supporter of this Hispanic business community. His company actually won a top award this year for their tremendous support of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and our partner businesses. We are looking forward to working closely with Kouplen in his new role as Secretary of Commerce to expand existing Hispanic-owned businesses and attract new ones to our state.” – James E. Sanchez, chairman of Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
“Sean Kouplen is an outstanding business and community leader who cares deeply about our state. Over the last ten years, he has built a tremendous company known for its nation-leading growth and amazing corporate culture. Faith is a very important part of Sean’s life and he treats everyone he encounters with respect. He will undoubtedly do an excellent job as Secretary of Commerce and I can’t think of anyone better to lead us toward top 10 economic growth.”
— Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work and Angel Investor, founder of Digital-Tutors
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Sean Kouplen for over ten years, and in that time have watched him be a man of integrity in business, a wonderful father, and a strong leader in his church. As Secretary of Commerce, he will bring not only his knowledge of business, but also the knowledge that it is people and relationships that are the true key to success in any endeavor. The tools he will bring with him to this role will position the Department of Commerce and our state to be the best possible in the country. Our businesses will thrive and those looking to start a business or relocate will notice and want to tap into what we have.”
– Krystal Crockett, president/CEO of Bixby Metro Chamber of Commerce
“Much of Oklahoma’s economy originates in rural communities across the state. It is heartening to have a person like Sean Kouplen named to lead economic development efforts, knowing that he brings great insights from his work in serving rural residents, businesses, farms, ranches and community organizations. With his background in agricultural economics and his demonstrated acumen in leadership, Sean is well suited to ensure that all of Oklahoma’s economy grows and thrives.”
– Thomas Coon, vice president of agricultural programs at Oklahoma State University