Idaho Department of Commerce Director Don Dietrich is resigning from his post effective Sept. 2. Dietrich, a former executive with Aspen Technology and Cargill Inc., said he plans to return to the private sector. He's also been a lightning rod as rumors have circulated that Gov. Butch Otter's "Project 60" trade-building initiative is really a plot to sell Idaho's sovereignty to China; the John Birch Society has been pushing the theory and using quotes from Dietrich about trade with China. The furor even spread to the Idaho Republican Party's Central Committee, which passed a "China Beachhead" resolution last month calling on the Legislature to look into it.
In his resignation letter, Dietrich wrote, “I am proud of what we have accomplished during these challenging times. However, it is clear to me that a change is necessary – for the Department and for me personally – in order for you to continue building on these successes and to meet my desire to return to the private sector.” Otter praised Dietrich as "a key member of my team for more than three years now," and said, "His professionalism and commitment have been exemplary, especially as all of us in state government learn to do more with less.”
A search is under way for Dietrich's successor; click below for Otter's full news release on the resignation. Here's a link to a June 27 article by the Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker debunking the China-buying-Idaho rumors; Jon Hanian, Otter's press secretary, when asked what connection there was between the China brouhaha and Dietrich's resignation, said he didn't think there was any connection. Here's a link to Otter's FAQ's about Idaho-China trade.
C.L. “Butch” Otter
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 9, 2011
DON DIETRICH TO STEP DOWN AT COMMERCE
DIRECTOR LEAVING STATE AGENCY TO RETURN TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR
(BOISE) – Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter announced today that Don Dietrich, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce since April 2008, is resigning effective September 2nd to return to the private sector.
“Don has been a key member of my team for more than three years now. On his watch we launched our Project 60 efforts, we worked to attract the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Idaho bases, and we initiated the ‘Just Make the Shift’ program to attract businesses from other states where taxes and regulations are impeding their growth. We engaged local industry leaders from throughout Idaho with summits on business, finance and innovation, and we enhanced an already sterling international business reputation,” Governor Otter said.
“Don has been instrumental in attracting such great corporate citizens as C3 in Twin Falls, Allstate in Pocatello and AREVA in Idaho Falls. His professionalism and commitment have been exemplary, especially as all of us in State government learn to do more with less,” the Governor said. “I appreciate his agreeing to help ensure a smooth transition. Don has my thanks for his service and my best wishes for all his future endeavors.”
Dietrich, formerly an executive with Aspen Technology and Cargill Inc., submitted his letter of resignation on August 5th. The search is under way for a successor to lead the Department of Commerce in building strong collaborative relationships in communities and with businesses throughout Idaho that nurture investments and career opportunities.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished during these challenging times. However, it is clear to me that a change is necessary – for the Department and for me personally – in order for you to continue building on these successes and to meet my desire to return to the private sector,” Dietrich wrote in his resignation letter.
“It’s important to remember that Commerce is part of a team that includes all State agencies devoted to seamlessly working with local leaders and economic development authorities to put Idaho’s best foot forward to the world,” Governor Otter said. “We are doing the right things in Idaho – living within the people’s means and making the tough decisions that position us for future growth and prosperity. I am personally committed to ensuring State government continues doing its part to foster growth and put more Idahoans back to work, and I look forward to joining our new Commerce director in aggressively engaging at every level with the employers and decision makers who drive our economy.”