ENID, Okla. — Outstanding leadership and dedication to Oklahoma’s workforce system are among some of the qualities describing Dennis Luckinbill, of Luckinbill Inc., recipient of the 2021 Oklahoma Workforce Development Business Champion Award.

The Enid native was honored last week by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the Oklahoma Association of Workforce Development Boards and the Oklahoma Workforce Association.

Luckinbill has been involved in developing Oklahoma’s workforce for around 20 years. Currently, he is chairman of the Western Oklahoma Workforce Development Board.

The award he received details that the recipient must engage in business-driven leadership given to Oklahoma’s workforce development system. Their contributions must enhance the productivity of Oklahoma’s economy and make the state a better place to live.

To be a workforce champion and business leader, one must routinely engage with their network to monitor progress, discuss new growth opportunities and identify any new barriers or challenges to workers in their region.

“I didn’t know who would receive the award,” Luckinbill said. “They just started reading the credentials, and it was me. It was a surprise, to say the least.”

With a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Luckinbill worked for NASA as a faculty member during the moon landings. He taught at Tennessee Tech for four years as professor. Luckinbill came back to Enid in 1972 and went into business with father, who had started the company in 1939.

Luckinbill is highly involved in the Enid community and maintains that his community involvement has given him many great friends and employees.

Further workforce development

The Western Oklahoma region is the largest in the state, holding 25 of the 77 counties.

“Numerous industry representatives are part of the development board,” Luckinbill said. “We work in conjunction with employment agencies, vo-techs and other groups who are trying to help people go further.

Proponents of Oklahoma’s workforce development seek to give Oklahoma a competitive advantage through integrated workforce and economic development objectives.

Funded federally, the Oklahoma Works program assists Oklahomans with barriers in finding employment. Whether coming from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds, job loss, or incarceration, workforce development seeks to help them, Luckinbill said.

“We help a lot of people throughout the state,” Luckinbill said. “Oklahoma Workforce Development is probably one of the best kept secrets, because I don’t think a lot of people understand that they could get help with employment.”

Trina Southard, president of the Oklahoma Workforce Association, said workforce champions like Luckinbill are “priceless ingredients” that can create a powerful, competitive environment and drive a strong Oklahoma economy.

“Partnership with public and private entities that support education and training, career pathways, counseling and barrier removal are addressing the building blocks of successful economic development in our communities, region and the state,” Southard said.

Local employers like Luckinbill, as well as Tyson Foods, ADM, Marsau and the city of Enid, will hire people coming out of Enid Community Corrections Center, for example, Luckinbill said.

“I really appreciate them, very much. That’s what we are here for — to try to help people gain employment,” he said.

He added that he has been working hard to help underserved populations gain access to the workforce programs, funding and jobs. In fact, he has employed several people helped by the programs at the company.

“Currently in our state, we have very low unemployment,” he said. “That’s good, but there are still a lot of people who have a hard time getting jobs because of disadvantages they might have.”

The Oklahoma unemployment rate is at 3%, as of September 2021, while it was at 4.1% in April 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Article by: Kat Jeanne, Enid News and Eagle 11.6.21

Photo by: Billy Hefton