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Grand Forks EDC CEO Klaus Thiessen to retire

Klaus Thiessen1 / 2
Klaus Thiessen2 / 2

Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Klaus Thiessen announced Thursday he will retire June 30.

“It’s time. When it’s time, it’s time,” Thiessen said of the timing of the announcement.

According to an EDC statement on the announcement, since Thiessen’s tenure began with the organization in 2003, capital investment by client companies has exceeded $750 million and clients’ regional employment and average wages have grown by more than 60 percent.

Thiessen is the longest-serving EDC president in the organization’s history.

During Thiessen’s leadership, companies including Amazon.com, Bison Transport and Challenger Manufacturing expanded into the region. Cirrus Aircraft, J.R. Simplot and LM Wind Power continued to grow in that time.

“Being part of the Grand Forks region’s transformation following the flood of 1997 has been an honor,” Thiessen said.

He said the EDC helped facilitate LM’s growth from 35 employees in 2004 to about 1,000 today.

Among other accomplishments he noted, Thiessen said he helped generate volunteers to support the EDC’s goals.

Thiessen came to Grand Forks from Economic Development Winnipeg, where he developed strategies to encourage greater community and volunteer participation in economic development.

With only a small staff of paid employees, he said encouraging that kind of community collaboration is central to effective EDC leadership.

“You have to have people to assist you,” he said.

The announcement said Thiessen was instrumental in the establishment of the Base Realignment Impact Committee, which led to the creation of Grand Sky UAS business park.

“The board is indebted to Klaus, whose commitment to the Grand Forks region has had an invaluable impact on our region’s economic health,” EDC board chairperson Tammy Peterson said in the news release.

Peterson, who was appointed Thursday to the position of chair, said the board will immediately begin the process of selecting Thiessen’s replacement.

This early in the process she didn’t have any more details as to what options the board might pursue. At this time, the plan is for the executive board to make recommendations for Thiessen’s successor. These recommendations will then be brought to the full board for a vote.

In addition to his leadership with the EDC, Thiessen has served on boards of the Chamber, United Way and the UND Engineering Advisory Board. He is a past president of the Economic Developers Association of Canada and a past director with the International Economic Development Council.

Thiessen said he had no specific plans for his retirement other than to enjoy a summer off.

“I haven’t had a summer of in I can’t remember when,” he said.

Kevin Killough

Kevin Killough is the business reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-780-1244. 

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