Phil Wilson, the Brownwood High School graduate who was appointed Texas secretary of state by Gov. Rick Perry Thursday, said the combination of that office with his current duties at the governor’s office is a good way to coordinate the state’s economic development initiatives.
“It will allow a continuation of focus of economic development,” Wilson said in a telephone interview Friday. “The secretary of state plays an important role in trade. Texas is the largest exporting state in the nation, and trade with Mexico is an important part of that.”
As secretary, Wilson will serve as the state’s chief elections officer, the governor’s liaison on border and Mexican affairs and Texas’ chief protocol officer.
As deputy chief of staff for Perry, Wilson has overseen the governor’s initiatives in economic development, job creation, federal funding issues, military base realignment and closure, and policy development.
Wilson will continue to serve as Perry’s designee on the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund. In this role, he will continue leading the Governor’s Office of Economic Devel-opment and Tourism.
“Phil’s new role will allow my office to coordinate with the Office of Secretary of State in a seamless way to expand trade, economic development, emerging technology initiatives in the private sector and higher education, and workforce development,” Perry said in announcing Wilson’s appointment, which will be effective July 1.
“It been a pretty hectic 48 hours,” Wilson said Friday morning.
The Office of Secretary of State also serves as the formal repository for official and business records, publishes government rules and regulations and attests to the governor’s signature on official documents.
“It’s really a good team,” Wilson said of the staff of about 200 employees he will inherit from departing Secretary of State Roger Williams. “We will continue ensuring that the office performs its constitutional duties.”
Those duties include ensuring that elections are run fairly and run well, and Wilson said after the May elections it appears that startup problems with software and electronic election equipment mandated by the federal government have largely been worked out.
The governor’s economic development office has about 70 employees, he said.
Wilson also said that as secretary of state, he sees his duties as enforcing the laws that the legislature passes, and not working to influence those laws.
Wilson graduated from Hardin-Simmons University with a degree in political science and history in 1990, and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business in Dallas. He received the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Award, the George Skiles Anderson Award as Outstanding Male Graduate, and was named to Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities while at Hardin-Simmons.
Wilson has served as the governor’s designee on the $200 million Emerging Technology Fund and the $185 million Texas Enterprise Fund to recruit business to the state. While serving in this post, the Texas Enterprise Fund has leveraged $10 billion in capital investment and 45,000 jobs. Wilson has also led public relations and media strategies for the $20 million annual Texas tourism campaigns.
Previously, Wilson worked as Perry’s director of communications from 2002-2003, and as state director for former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm.
“Brownwood is a good town, and I’m proud to be from there,” Wilson said. “There’s a reason I wanted it mentioned when the an-nouncement was made. It was good to see so many people from Brownwood visit the Capitol. I hope I can come visit soon.”
Wilson was among the speakers who met with local residents during Brownwood Day at the Texas Capitol when it was held in February by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
Perry, in his announcement Thursday, praised Wilson as an extraordinary leader and a strong manager.
“He has a keen ability to make decisions and get results, and I know he will apply those skills successfully for the people of Texas,” Perry said.
Wilson, 39, lives in Austin with his wife, Kristen Kincaid Wilson.