- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s employment agency will prioritize helping businesses find qualified workers for thousands of unfilled jobs, the agency’s new chief said Monday.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed Cheri Geisen as executive director of Job Service North Dakota at a ceremony at the state Capitol in Bismarck. She replaces former Job Service executive director Maren Daley, who resigned last year.

Giesen is returning to state government after nine years in the private sector. She said it’s “an incredible time of economic development” in North Dakota, a state that has 25,000 more jobs than takers in the state and the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.6 percent.

Job Service administers state unemployment benefits and workforce training programs.

Dalrymple said unemployment is at “rock bottom” across the state but many of the scores of unfilled jobs that remain require workers with “appropriate training.”

Giesen said she’s committed to “helping employers find people,” though she did not offer specifics on Monday.

Giesen has more than 20 years of experience in organizational management and information technology, Dalrymple said. Between 1992 and 2005, she served in management positions with several state agencies, including Job Service, the attorney general’s office, the state Supreme Court, and the Transportation Department. Giesen directed the information technology department at Job Service for six years.

Since 2005, Giesen has worked for Bismarck-based Basin Electric Cooperative where she supervised the management of information systems.

Dalrymple said Giesen’s background is a “known quantity.”

Giesen’s “strong leadership skills and her extensive experience with information technology systems are very valuable skills to have,” Dalrymple said.

Geisen begins her new job on July 8. She will be paid $115,000 annually.

The agency has about 250 full-time employees and an annual budget of about $40 million. About 97 percent of the agency’s funding comes from the federal government.