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Greater Cache Valley Economic Summit Speakers-2024

Ryan Starks

Ryan Starks

Ryan Starks was appointed executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity
by Governor Spencer J. Cox on January 12, 2023. In this role, Starks oversees Gov. Cox’s vision
of providing economic opportunities for all Utahns. The office supports business, industry, and
community growth through various financial incentives and grant programs. The office fosters
innovation and entrepreneurship, supports targeted industries, promotes responsible tourism, and
works to strengthen Utah’s diverse workforce.
Starks was previously the managing director of growth and innovation in the Governor’s Office
of Economic Opportunity, overseeing business expansion programs and partnerships, rural
economic development initiatives, and the state’s international trade and diplomacy efforts. He
also serves as an honorary commander of the 419-fighter wing at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base.
Previously, he has worked for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington,
DC, as the executive director of the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce, and as the founding
director of the Wasatch Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) — an innovative
workforce partnership between students and industry. He also taught as an adjunct professor of
management for 10 years in the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Starks earned a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University, where he served as student body
president, and a Master of Public Administration degree from BYU. He earned a certificate in
economic development from the University of Oklahoma and a certificate in entrepreneurship
and innovation from Harvard University. Starks, his wife Amy, and their four children reside in
South Jordan

Natalie Gochnour

Natalie Gochnour

Natalie Gochnour serves as an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and as director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. She served in the administrations of three Utah governors – Bangerter, Leavitt and Walker – and was a political appointee in the George W. Bush administration. She authors regular columns in Utah Business magazine and the Deseret News and co-hosts the weekly radio program Both Sides of the Aisle on KCPW.

David Zook

David Zook

David served as the City Manager of one of the state’s most successful cities, Nibley, Utah, for almost a decade. Prior to that, he spent 15 years working in county leadership, where he served in multiple roles, including public safety, economic development and as Chief of Staff. 

He is the Founding Chairman of the Cache Valley Economic Development Alliance, an organization he founded in 2017 while he was serving as the Chairman of the Cache Chamber of Commerce. Read more about this…

David served from 2012 through 2018 on the Hyde Park Planning Commission and has volunteered for many years with nonprofit organizations, including a decade on the Family Place’s board of directors. 

David has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and has served as a professor of Public Administration.  He also earned graduate and undergraduate certificates in Economic Development. 

David recently earned a national award for his management of the public’s tax dollars and he earned the Credentialed City/County Manager designation from the International City/County Management Association

Sherry Stevens

Sherry Stevens

Center for Rural Development, Outreach Manager

Governor’s Office Economic Opportunity

Alecia Hart

Alecia Hart

Startup State, Director

Governor’s Office Economic Opportunity

Shawn Milne

Shawn Milne

Director of Economic Development, Quality Growth & Intergovernmental Affairs

Karina Brown

Karina Brown

Policy Analyst

Forrest Fackrell

Forrest Fackrell

Senior Director, Client Engagements at iMpact Utah

Casey Snider

Casey Snider

Majority Assistant Whip
Republican – District 5
County(ies) – Cache
Began Legislative Service – Appointed October 15, 2018

Profession – Executive Director

Education – B.S., Conservation and Restoration Ecology and Law and Constitutional Studies, Utah State University; M.S., Environmental Science and Policy, Johns Hopkins University

Jeff Gilbert

Jeff Gilbert

Jeff Gilbert is the Executive Director of the Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMPO) where he has worked for the last 20 years.  At the CMPO, Jeff oversees the long-range planning, traffic and air quality modeling, agency coordination and transportation project development. Prior to his work at the MPO, Jeff was employed for nine years at Bear River Association of Governments (BRAG).  He holds a Master’s Degree in Town and Regional Planning from Utah State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

Kirk Jensen

Kirk Jensen

Kirk Jensen is Logan City’s economic development director and the executive director for the City’s Redevelopment Agency. Working closely with Logan City mayor, Holly Daines, Kirk assists the mayor in implementing her vision to revitalize Logan’s historic downtown, as well as helping to coordinate a wide array of economic development projects. Prior to his 19 years working in economic development for Logan City, Kirk worked in private business and commercial banking. Kirk is passionate about Logan and Cache Valley, enjoys playing golf, following the Aggies, and spending time with his family.

John O'Neil

John O’Neil

John O’Neil was named Vice President for Operational Strategy and Special Advisor to USU’s President Elizabeth Cantwell on March 1, 2024. O’Neil was formerly vice president of research at the University of Arizona where he successfully led research administration, research development, and secured research operations for the university, which ranks in the top 20 for research and development expenditures. Prior to joining the University of Arizona in 2019, O’Neil spent more than 15 years in various leadership roles in the National Security Directorate Oak Ridge National Laboratory. An exceptional contributor to national security, he actively advises and consults with the U.S. Government on critical and sensitive matters. Before Oak Ridge, O’Neil spent seven years in research leadership at Virginia Tech, leading federal agency relations, research development, and corporate and foundation relations while also serving on the Vice Provost’s Council. O’Neil completed his Ph.D. in education research at Virginia Tech in 1992 after earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and public affairs at Cornell University in 1990. He has received various meritorious awards for excellence in research, university and laboratory operations during his career.

Greater Cache Valley Economic Summit Agenda-2024

8:00 am Welcome

8:15-8:30 am Local Review: David Zook– Local/Regional Updates

8:30 -9:30 am Ryan Starks –opportunities for Cache Valley through GOEO

Start Up State – Alicia Hart and Sherry Stevens

9:30 am – 10:15 Shawn Milne – Agri-Port and Napolean Dynamite- 3 counties projects

10:15- 11:15 am Vendor Break

11:15 am- 12:00 Karina Brown– State of Housing- videos

Forrest Fackrell- State of Manufacturing – IMPACT Utah – Catherine, video

12:00 pm Lunch -Buffet

12:15-12:45 – USU Update

12:45-1:00 pm Vendor Break

1:15- 2pm Natalie Gochnour – “Cache Valley and the New Utah”

2:00 pm Casey Snider – state of the water

Jeff Gilbert – State of Transportation -Why invest in transportation?

Kirk Jensen – New City Projects

3:00 pm Closing Remarks and Raffle

Sponsors

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Silver Sponsors

Riverwoods

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