Posts tagged: Jeff Sayer
Idaho’s longtime tourism chief and its head of international trade were both laid off Monday, as state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer launched a reorganization of his 53-person agency. Karen Ballard, the state’s tourism division chief for the past six years and a tourism staffer for the state for more than 20 years, is out of a job, as is Damien Bard, chief of the department’s Division of International Business. “Our reorganization is really us trimming back at the top levels of management, and streamlining our team so that we can be more responsive to the businesses of the state and changes that are occurring in economic development,” Sayer said.
Commerce will now have just three divisions: Administration, headed by Megan Ronk, former government relations, marketing and public relations officer; Business Expansion, including the international division, community development and more, headed by current team leader Gynii Gilliam; and Business Creation, including tourism along with sales and marketing, business attraction and national sales. The department is recruiting a leader for that division; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Longtime Idaho tourism chief Karen Ballard is out of a job as part of a reorganization at the state Department of Commerce. Ballard, who’s served as administrator of the state Division of Tourism for the past six years, has been with the department working on tourism for more than 20 years; both her position and that of Damien Bard, administrator of international tourism, are being eliminated in the reorganization. “We are eligible to reapply for some other positions that are going to be here,” Ballard said. “It’s a streamlining of Commerce that’s going to have a few less people, but actually redistribute some of the salaries to be more equitable. … So they’ll be creating a new position for manager of tourism, and we’re hoping that one of my staff will be able to fill that position.”
Ballard said she won’t be reapplying for the manager post. “That is a reclassify and a downgrade of what my current position is,” she said. With a chuckle, she said, “Basically, they’re splitting my job up into two different directions, which makes me feel better for the amount of work my job was, with it needing to be split.”
Asked about her plans, Ballard said, “Well, I’m open to opportunities that might come my way.”
She said she was advised of the reorganization on Wednesday. “Now, we did know that (Commerce Director) Jeff (Sayer) was working on a reorganization,” Ballard said, “and we actually helped him with some of these ideas that he came up with. I had not anticipated that it would be the elimination of my job, but I understand what he’s trying to do, and it could be very productive for him.”
Prior to joining Commerce, Ballard worked in the hospitality industry in the Sun Valley area, including work for Elkhorn Resort.
Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer is crowing about company expansions and recruitments that are running far ahead of expectations, just a month into the state's new fiscal year. “We have probably 10 projects, all in different regions of the state, that will bring anywhere from 50 to 200 jobs per project,” Sayer told Eye on Boise today. “The best part is that they're a combination of companies that are expanding and new companies coming into the state. So if that pace keeps up, this year should be a really exciting year for us.”
Details are scarce at this point, but Sayer is promising more later; the jobs in question will be added within the next four to 18 months. “We're finally seeing the culmination of several months of momentum that's been building across the state, and now it's finally coming to the surface where what we were hearing is actually turning into actual jobs,” Sayer said. “We're seeing growth in sectors that people aren't even aware exist in Idaho, like the aerospace sector near Spokane. We're seeing a lot of manufacturing. We're seeing a lot of strength in some of our existing industries that are finally starting to expand and grow.”
The current upswell is unexpected, Sayer noted. “This is probably six to nine months ahead of what I would have predicted. So it's fun. And we're seeing even more conversations that are starting to fill our pipelines, so it's not like once we get done with these we're done - there are several more coming.”
Jim Hawkins, the North Idaho businessman who was Idaho's groundbreaking commerce director from 1987 to 1996 and who was appointed to senior positions by three different Idaho governors, is back as a volunteer consultant to new Idaho Commerce chief Jeff Sayer. “Jim's playing a key role in helping us connect the department directly to business,” Sayer said. “We're taking steps to actually move at the speed of business. Jim's helping us lead that charge.” Added Sayer, “He's been a mentor to me.”
Sayer, a CPA and a BYU graduate, was appointed by Gov. Butch Otter to head the department in September; an entrepreneur, he most recently had been managing partner of Novayx Group and president and chief financial officer for Mountain View Hospital in Idaho Falls. Hawkins, also an entrepreneur, has worked in banking, auto supplies, venture capital and more; he's a University of Idaho business grad who also holds an honorary UI doctorate.