North Dakota Commerce Commissioner resigns but will work part-time | Government and politics

North Dakota Commerce Commissioner James Leiman is stepping down to take a job on a global think tank, but will continue to work for the state part-time to help with economic development projects.

Leiman’s departure creates more turnover in Governor Doug Burgum’s cabinet. Since the start of 2021, the Governor has appointed new leaders for the Department of Health, Corrections and Rehabilitation, Game and Fisheries, Parks and Recreation, and Indian Affairs.

Burgum appointed Leiman in March 2021 to succeed Michelle Kommer, who left in October 2020 to return to the private sector. Leiman, for the previous three years, had headed Commerce’s economic development and finance division.

Burgum announced Wednesday that Leiman would step down at the end of the month to become director of development at the Institute for Economics and Peace. The governor credited Leiman with many successes during his tenure at Commerce, including finding new export markets and growing the technology sector.

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“Over the past four years, James has had an extremely positive impact on our state’s economy and business climate, bringing billions of project dollars into the pipeline for North Dakota,” Burgum said. “We are grateful to him for continuing to contribute to the economic development of the Department of Commerce, and we wish him all the best as he transitions into his next venture.”

The governor has appointed Assistant Commerce Commissioner Shawn Kessel as acting commissioner until a replacement for Leiman is named. Kessel filled the same role between Kommer’s departure and Leiman’s appointment.

The Department of Commerce oversees four divisions: Tourism, Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Community Services.

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