A former economic development official for the state of Idaho will lead the effort to expand and diversify Kootenai County’s economy and employment base.
Gynii Abracosa Gilliam, of Boise, is the new president of Jobs Plus Inc., the Coeur d’Alene-area economic development corporation.
Gilliam has over 20 years of experience in the field, from rural settings in central Idaho to urban centers as large as Detroit. She was chief economic development officer in the Idaho Department of Commerce from January 2012 to November 2013. After that she ran her own consulting firm to help elected officials and others champion economic development.
Gilliam succeeds Steve Griffitts, who in January stepped down after 12 years leading the agency and now is a vice president at Mountain West Bank.
Economic development is about more than recruiting new companies to locate in a community, Gilliam said.
“The bulk of a community’s growth is from existing business expanding. We can’t be ignoring that segment,” she said.
“We want to be more proactive than reactive in every single thing that we do,” she continued, “whether that’s lead generation, promoting and enhancing entrepreneurial development, or finding out what the roadblocks and bumps are with our existing businesses in terms of growth.”
Promising sectors for growth in North Idaho include aerospace, robotics, software development and information technology, Gilliam said.
She also hopes to help diversify existing sectors such as office and business services and light manufacturing. “We cannot ignore what our existing strengths are.”
Some of the larger company recruitment announcements in recent years have involved call centers in the Coeur d’Alene area, including Alliance Data Retail Services, a national credit card service company, last spring. Those have a place in the local economy, Gilliam said.
“They bring in their call centers and the next thing you know they’re bringing in their IT systems,” she said. “We have a wide range of workforce,” and call centers fit the needs of many workers.
Gilliam is a graduate of UCLA and the University of Michigan. She led economic development in Pocatello, Idaho, from 2006 through 2011, and in the Salmon, Idaho, area from 2002 to 2006.
“Gynii brings an extensive economic development background and a strong belief in solid relationships in order to partner and collaborate for the good of our local communities and region,” said Patty Shea, chairwoman of the Jobs Plus board.
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