The 2019 Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet took place on Thursday, July 18 and had a roaring 20's theme.
Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell was the guest speaker and spoke about tourism and rebranding Oklahoma.
"We have to brand Oklahoma, cause I don't know what our current brand is. It better not be 'Oklahoma is OK'," said Pinnell. "If we don't define who we are as a state, I guarantee you that 49 other states will."
Pinnell discussed his plan to bring residents from across the state to a summit on August 22 to begin the process of a cohesive state brand. Pinnell hopes to unveil the brand at the 2020 State of the State Address from Governor Kevin Stitt.
On the tourism side, Pinnell has big goals. Pinnell hopes to replace the 'Welcome to Oklahoma' signs.
"I think that attention to detail matters," said Pinnell. "We are blessed that you can get an authentic American experience in Oklahoma. What I am trying to fix in our tourism department is that we are maximizing our marketing dollars and growing marketing dollars."
Pinnell wants the state of Oklahoma to be a top ten tourism state. According to World Atlas' website, those places are currently held by California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, New York, Virginia, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and Hawaii.
"Things happen when we get people to the state of Oklahoma. They fall in love with this place. They see that we have running water and tall buildings, that we have 200 lakes. They see how great this place is and they fall in love with our people, our work force, they see that this is a pretty place, they see that this is a diverse place and then they start asking themselves these questions: maybe I should retire here. Maybe I should relocate our business here," said Pinnell. "That happens everyday in this state and every other state around us. This is fast tracked in states where the governor and lt. governor and the legislative body understands that tourism is real business."
Pinnell also said that tourism is the front door to economic development.
"If tourism is the front door to economic development, then where are we as a state? We have to be honest, what are we doing well, what are we not doing so well? Tourism is one of our greatest strengths as a state. There is not another state in this country that can match our heritage and match our history," said Pinnell.
To get involved with Pinnell's work, visit www.ok.gov/ltgovpinnell.