EDMOND, Okla. — Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell makes phone calls to Oklahomans living in other states who’ve told him they would love to come home, he said at the recent Edmond Economic Preview hosted by the Edmond Economic Development Authority. With business growth, startup money, and additional jobs they can come home.
“My job is to be the salesman for Oklahoma, and I take that job very seriously,” said Pinnell, one of five executive board members serving on the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Oklahoma has not done enough to advocate itself, he said, but added that Edmond understands the need to invest in future generations when it comes to small business growth. Career tech in Oklahoma is good for the economy, he said. Career tech rankings place Oklahoma and Georgia at the top in the nation, he said.
“Francis Tuttle right here in Edmond is really focusing on entrepreneurship,” Pinnell said.
A lot of programs at the new Danforth campus being developed between Sooner and Coltrane on the north side will be duplicated from the Rockwell Francis Tuttle campus in Oklahoma City, according to Jeff Knapp, Francis Tuttle spokesman.
Programs will be phased in starting in both fall 2021 and 2022, with those for high school students in the latter year. Programs in 2021 include the Center for Municipal Excellence.
Pinnell criss-crosses the state’s 77 counties emphasizing the Innovation Pipeline Model is one of the best recruiters for retaining talent in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance along with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), The new Product Development Center at Oklahoma State University, and i2E (Innovation to Enterprise) form the Innovation Pipeline Model.
Helping entrepreneurs and large and small business owners to innovate, find grant dollars and start-up money is the goal, he said. These groups have been doing great work in the state, he said, but few people know they exist.
“If we’re not telling our story, then 49 other states will define it for us,” Pinnell said. “Right? That’s how this works. If we’re not screaming through the rooftops that we do well — then everybody is just going to talk about the bad stuff.”
The story must be told so that a kid from Edmond Public Schools with an idea for a business connects the dots that delivers a dream to fruition, Pinnell said.
He pointed out that many children across Oklahoma are not blessed to gather in rooms at the Edmond Conference Center. Edmond is blessed, he said. The story must be told in rural Oklahoma, he added.
“But there are a lot of kids, people young and old in this state, that are not blessed to be able to be in rooms like this,” he said. “How are they going to hear about the Innovation Pipeline Model? Francis Tuttle Business Services — I’ve got to tell them. That’s my job.”
Pinnell said Edmond needs to know about the Revolutions Rise of the Rest bus tour coming to Oklahoma in April. The five-day tour is the week of April 20, and will stop in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, northwest Arkansas, and St. Louis. Rise of the Rest is a product of Steve Case, the founder of AOL. The Rise of the Rest road tour is a nationwide effort to invest in and work closely with entrepreneurs in emerging startup ecosystems. Pinnell will accompany Case on the tour.
“Only three states (California, Massachusetts and New York) in the entire country make up 85% of all investment capital,” Pinnell said. The Lt. Governor agrees with Case that there is just as good talent in the remaining states.
“We’re not investing in those talents in the middle of America,” Pinnell said. “… there’s just as good talent in Oklahoma as there is in New York City. But we don’t have the investment capital here. We’ve got to get people on the coasts looking at Oklahoma to invest in those companies.”
The bus tour will be handing out hundreds of thousand of dollars to entrepreneurs during the tour, Pinnell said.
“You’re going to be able to pitch to his team when he comes to Oklahoma,” he said.
(Editor’s Note — To learn more about the Revolutions Rise of the Rest tour, visit https://www.revolution.com/press-release/revolutions-rise-of-the-rest-road-trip-wichita-tulsa-oklahom-arkansas-st-louis-agtech/.)