BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced on Monday, March 1, that the state's Department of Commerce will have a new leader.

James Leiman will serve as commerce commissioner, filling a position that Michelle Kommer left in October to return to the private sector. Shawn Kessel, who has occupied the office on an interim basis, will assume a role as the department's chief operating officer and deputy commissioner.

For nearly three years, Leiman has worked as the department's director of economic development and finance, where he has helped attract investment in the state and promoted local businesses, according to a news release.

Leiman, a U.S. Army veteran, earned a doctorate in transportation and logistics from North Dakota State University in 2019 and has previously worked as a city administrator for Ada, Minn., and a Veterans Affairs higher-up. In 2016, Leiman ran as a Republican for the Minnesota Senate in a district just east of Fargo, losing to Democratic incumbent Kent Eken.

Burgum said he's confident Leiman and Kessel will guide the state in building "vibrant communities with smart, efficient infrastructure that can attract and compete for a 21st century workforce."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Leiman said he's excited to promote workforce advancement, tourism and economic development in the state.

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