Idaho's first female Director of Commerce
One year into her high-profile position as Idaho’s Director of Commerce, Megan Ronk continues to be excited about her job and honored to represent her home state. And she’s not afraid of the hard work the job entails. “My parents owned a Chevrolet GMC Dealership so from the time I was a young girl, I was washing cars, pulling weeds on the lot, and later, helping in the office,” she says.
Now, she oversees 43 employees in the Department of Commerce with the goal of expanding existing businesses, attracting new ones to the state and promoting Idaho tourism. One of the things she learned on her “listening tour” throughout the state shortly after taking office was the need to ensure Idaho’s longtime businesses understood they are eligible for the same incentives available to new companies.
“We’ve added a new team to focus on business retention and expansion and are really excited about it,” she says. “It’s the right thing to do — help existing businesses grow and expand, and it’s been very rewarding.”
Each Day an Exciting Challenge
She describes her agency as the sales arm for Idaho — tasked with the job of promoting it as a great place to work, invest and recreate. “Every day is an exciting new challenge as we work to bring new opportunities to Idaho and the families who live here,” she says. “Attracting outside business to the state is a highly competitive endeavor, but I am competitive, so it’s a good fit.”
What Does She Most Wish to Accomplish?
“This sounds like a very lofty goal, but I have two young children and I want to give them the blessing of growing up in Idaho, going to school here and having fabulous career opportunities when they’re ready to settle down,” she says.
Those blessings were certainly available to Ronk as she grew up. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of Idaho and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Before working in her former position of CEO at the Department of Commerce, Ronk was executive director of the Idaho Meth Project, a strategic projects manager for Blue Cross of Idaho and a policy adviser to former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
First Woman to Lead Commerce Department
Much has been made of Ronk being the first woman to hold the position of director of commerce. She hesitates before giving her take on the honor.
“I’m obviously a woman. But at the end of the day I want to believe I earned the job due to my education, credibility, past jobs and abilities — not because I’m female. I’m probably more proud of my age (37) since this job has historically been held by someone at the tail end of their career — and not just in Idaho, but across the country.”
When not proudly promoting her beloved state, this native of Mountain Home, Idaho, teaches microeconomics at the College of Western Idaho and enjoys traveling with her husband Jayson and their two sons aged 6 and 3. She reads biographies and leadership books and is a “passionate baker.” She’ll cook anything but especially loves baking cakes, which often must be given away because her husband is missing a sweet tooth.
Work or play, she performs her best at whatever she does.