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Noem selects former legislator, real estate COO for economic development spot in cabinet

PIERRE, S.D. -- For her latest cabinet pick amidst her transition to the governor’s office, Republican Gov.-elect Kristi Noem selected a new commissioner for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

In a Thursday, Dec. 6, news release, Noem announced that Steve Westra, the current Chief Operating Officer for Sioux Falls-based commercial real estate company Hegg Companies, Inc., will join Noem’s cabinet come January. Westra is also a current member of the state’s Tourism Advisory Board, and served in the state House of Representatives from 2013 to 2016. He was the House Assistant Majority Leader for two of those years.

In the release, Noem said, “South Dakota does a lot of things right, but our economy needs a renewed focus.” Evoking her campaign promises to limit government growth, Noem said Westra will help South Dakota “expand job opportunities and recruit new businesses by developing our workforce and cutting unnecessary regulations.”

According to U.S. News and World Report’s most recent analysis, South Dakota’s economy ranks 28 out of the 50 states. Its economic growth is rated 33.

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed the most recent commissioner Scott Stern to the GOEC in July 2016. Stern announced prior to November’s election that he was stepping down from his role as commissioner to return to Stern Oil.

Noem announced 12 picks for her cabinet at the end of November, two of which are interim appointments. With her pick for the GOEC, six more cabinet positions -- secretaries of Agriculture, Education, Human Services, Social Services, Tribal Relations and Veterans Affairs -- remain unfilled as of Thursday afternoon.

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