Teresa McKnight

McKnight.

The new CEO of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho is now on the job.

Teresa McKnight replaces Dana Kirkham, who did the job for a year. Kirkham, the former mayor of Ammon, will continue to consult with McKnight on developing the organization’s strategic plan, according to a news release. Kirkham said she expects the plan to be done by the end of July.

“Teresa is exactly what the region needs at this juncture,” Kirkham said in the release. “Her professional background and experience will elevate Eastern Idaho’s profile across the state. It is fantastic she has joined the REDI team.”

REDI represents 14 counties in Eastern Idaho and works on job growth, industry retention and business development. Member cities include Ammon, Blackfoot, Chubbuck, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Rexburg, Shelley and Ucon.

REDI board Chairman Park Price said about 35 people applied for the job.

“We were thrilled when we looked at Teresa’s background (and) experience,” he said. “She was clearly, in the view of the search committee and the board, a perfect fit for REDI. … Her experience aligns perfectly with our vision for where REDI is going, and she has successfully done things that we want to do, so we’re really looking forward to her leadership for REDI.”

Price said McKnight’s recent work in Utah, where she helped to lead a massive expansion of the Utah State University College of Agriculture’s research park was a major selling point.

“What she’s done there is, she worked with communities, business leaders, universities, all the major partners have in REDI, she is working with them successfully,” he said. “And having that kind of experience, 25 years’ worth of experience, is just fabulous to be able to leverage that, and she will help us achieve these goals for us much more quickly than we could have anticipated.

McKnight has “more than 25 years’ experience working with research parks, technology commercialization, business incubation, government relations, business and economic development,” according to REDI’s news release. Her past includes economic development-related jobs in Utah, Montana and South Dakota. Prior to REDI, she worked as director of Incubation Enterprise and Technology Outreach for the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative at the University of Utah.

“I am elated to have the opportunity to promote and grow eastern Idaho as Idaho’s premier hub for science, technology and research,” McKnight said in the release. “With tremendous growth in the areas of energy, cybersecurity, advanced materials, nuclear medicine, and agriculture, not to mention Eastern Idaho is home to one of the largest Department of Energy sites in America, it is no surprise Idaho’s research corridor for cutting-edge technology and high-tech innovation resides in eastern Idaho. I look forward to building upon the great work to-date and continue moving forward this great initiative through collaboration and unification.”

Price said REDI’s goal is to market Eastern Idaho with an overarching vision. He said McKnight would both help existing businesses expand and attract new ones.

“We have so many natural advantages here as it deals with energy, medical, agriculture, all of which deal in advanced and research-based (sectors),” Price said. “So we kind of lead, particularly in energy, we lead the nation in this sort of research, so she’s used to dealing with leading-edge organizations leading-edge sectors, and that’s what we’re all about is we want to take advantage of the things that are going on here.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.