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North Dakota commerce chief steps down to lead think tank

Commerce Commissioner James Leiman will leave his job at the state's leading economic development agency to become the chief development officer at the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank headquartered in Australia.

James Leiman.jpg
James Leiman.
Photo via North Dakota Department of Commerce
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Commerce Commissioner James Leiman will resign his position at the end of the month to pursue a leading role at a global think tank.

Gov. Doug Burgum announced Wednesday, June 15, that Leiman will step down from his job with the state's leading economic development agency to become the chief development officer at the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank headquartered in Australia.

Leiman, who was appointed as commerce chief in March 2021, will continue working for the state on a part-time basis "to drive economic development projects in the state," the governor's office said in a news release.

Prior to leading the state agency, Leiman served as its director of economic development and finance for three years.

“Over the last four years, James has made a tremendously positive impact on our state’s economy and business climate, bringing billions of dollars of projects into the pipeline for North Dakota,” Burgum said in the release.

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Starting July 1, Deputy Commerce Commissioner Shawn Kessel will serve as the agency's interim director. Kessel also served as the interim commissioner after former commissioner Michelle Kommer left the agency for the private sector in 2020.

A job posting for commerce commissioner will go online immediately, the governor's office said.

The department is responsible for leading efforts to attract and retain wealth in North Dakota.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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