Dana Kirkham moving on from economic development firm

photo of dana kirkham
Dana Kirkham

Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho is on the hunt for a new CEO with the expected departure of Dana Kirkham, who will be moving on in June.

“I am not renewing my contract,” she said. “That was the arrangement from the beginning — that I would serve a 12-month term, move the company in a new direction and then move on to some new and interesting opportunities.”

Kirkham, the former mayor of Ammon, did not specify what her next move would be.

She was hired at REDI in 2017 to serve as science, technology and research director for the group, then took over from Jan Rogers, who retired after three years as CEO.

REDI, based in Idaho Falls, represents a 14-county region focused on job growth, industry retention and business development.

Kirkham served two terms on the Ammon City Council, six of those as council president. She is also board chair for the Idaho Innovation Center and serves on several other boards including the Internal Review Board for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Idaho Falls Arts Council, Regional Development Alliance, and Idaho Falls City Club.

Kirkham attended Marion Military Institute in Alabama before graduating with a degree in political science from Utah State University. She worked for the U.S. State Department in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia.

Japanese investors visit Idaho

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A group of seven Japanese businessmen toured a number of businesses in southern and eastern Idaho, including Clif Bar in Twin Falls. File photo.

A group of Japanese businessmen recently toured southern and eastern Idaho looking for business opportunities.

Seven representatives from Japanese companies traveled to Idaho July 10-13 to learn more about the state and potential opportunities to partner with Idaho businesses, according to Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI).  These Japanese businesses met with an Idaho team that visited Japan in April.  They are specifically interested in investing in Idaho, REDI said.

The tour included the Koenig Distillery in Nampa, Idaho Milk Products in Jerome, Clif Bar in Twin Falls, the ribbon cutting of the NewCold freezer facility in Burley, Mart Produce in Rupert, Inergy Solar in Chubbuck, BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls, as well as meetings with local officials.

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Nathan Murray

The visitors were particularly interested in machining and industrial product design, said Nathan Murray, economic development director for the city of Twin Falls.

“I was told by a couple of them that they most enjoyed visiting Clif Bar and seeing the automated packing,” Murray said. “They were also interested in some food and the processing of local materials to make products that could then be exported back to Japan.”

Idaho and Japan business leaders have been seeing a lot of each other lately.  Sakae CEO Takashi Suzuki visited Idaho Falls in March 2016 on a sister city visit with other business executives. Ohzen Precision Machining Cutting, a partner of Sakae, is setting up shop in Idaho Falls to make titanium after-market parts for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In November, the Idaho Department of Commerce awarded a nearly $238,000 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission grant to the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and CAES to partner with Sakae Casting on research and development on spent nuclear fuel storage and cooling capabilities.