Burgum appoints James Leiman to lead North Dakota Department of Commerce; Kessel to serve as COO

1 Mar 2021


Gov. Doug Burgum appointed James Leiman to serve as state Commerce Commissioner, citing his extensive background in enhancing organizations and his effective leadership as the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s director of Economic Development and Finance (ED&F) since March 2018.
As ED&F director, Leiman has been responsible for statewide economic development and finance initiatives. He’s played crucial roles in efforts to develop North Dakota’s abundant natural gas resources, attract new capital to the state, find new markets for exporters, commercialize intellectual property, grow the tech sector including autonomous technology, increase foreign and domestic investment in North Dakota, and establish the nation’s first statewide network for flying unmanned aerial systems beyond visual line of sight.
Prior to joining Commerce, Leiman served as city administrator in Ada, Minn., from 2015 to 2018  and as chief of integration and synchronization for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2011 to 2015. A U.S. Army veteran, Leiman served as an intelligence analyst and interpreter during Operation Enduring Freedom. He later managed several national security programs at the departments of Homeland Security, State and Agriculture, focusing on counterterrorism efforts. After over a decade of fighting terrorism, Leiman sought to use his skills to solve domestic issues.

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