Governor Burgum Appoints Campaign Backer, Sunflower Seeds Founder to Department of Commerce


TOM STROMME.Tribune Governor Doug Burgum opened North Dakota's 65th legislative assembly on Tuesday afternoon in front of a joint session of the legislature where he delivered the State of the State address. Gov. Burgum touched on a number of topics in the address but a continuing theme was lifelong education. "Learning begins with humility. Everyone has something to teach us," he said.

I’ve always seen a lot of similarities between Governor Doug Burgum and President Donald Trump.

Not in terms of rhetorical style, of course. Burgum tends to be thoughtful in his comments where Trump is bombastic. But both men are independently wealthy candidates who positioned themselves as political outsiders.

And now, as Trump has brought in successful CEO’s from the business sector to staff his administration, Burgum has followed in the same vein.

According to a press release today Burgum has appointed GIANT Sunflower Seeds co-founder Jay Shuler to head the state’s Department of Commerce.

“Jay Schuler’s impressive background of incubating and launching 15 startup companies spanning five continents and deep understanding of value-added agriculture will be highly valuable as we seek to diversify North Dakota’s economy and reinvent state government,” Burgum says in his release.

Schuler donated $8,150 to Burgum’s gubernatorial campaign.

You can read some of Schuler’s background with his company, which is based in Wahpeton, right here.

It is, in a word, impressive. A real North Dakota success story. The company has big ties to Major League Baseball, including the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, and San Francisco Giants. GIANT Sunflower Seeds is a nationally recognized brand.

“As someone who has spent his entire career launching and growing businesses, I’m excited to join a cabinet led by a successful entrepreneur in Gov. Burgum,” Schuler says in the release. “We share the view that in order for our urban and rural communities to prosper, we must create a regulatory environment and support network that encourages startups to form and thrive, while ensuring our existing businesses have the tools and workforce they need to flourish and innovate.”

The release state’s that Schuler’s job will be to “advance the governor’s Main Street Initiative, focusing on a skilled workforce, smart, efficient infrastructure and healthy, vibrant communities.”

Here’s the full release:

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