_Executive Director

Dan Hemmert

Dan Hemmert serves as the executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah), where he is responsible for implementing Gov. Spencer J. Cox’s vision of economic opportunity and prosperity for Utahns. Hemmert was selected to serve as Go Utah’s executive director based on his previous business and legislative experience. He’s been a C-level executive at a successful venture-backed startup, a private equity investment professional, and managed a private asset management firm. Most recently, Hemmert owned and operated the largest dry cleaning business in Utah, with over 20 locations and 150 employees. At the time of his appointment, Hemmert was serving in the Utah State Senate where he was the Senate Majority Whip. Hemmert is a strong advocate for Utah and brings his unique perspective and skills to advocate for the state. His educational background includes a bachelor’s in economics, Master’s of Business Administration, and a law degree, all from Brigham Young University. Hemmert and his wife, Natalie, are proud parents of six children. He enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.

801-538-8769 danhemmert@utah.gov

_Deputy Director

Benjamin Hart

Benjamin Hart is the deputy director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah). As deputy director, he assists in developing the office’s strategic direction, oversees corporate recruitment and incentives, talent and education alignment, the diplomacy office, strategic partnerships, and other programs that help expand Utah’s economy. Before joining Go Utah, Hart’s professional experience included serving as the director of employer initiatives for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. He helped develop programs such as the Small Business Bridge program, the UCAIR Clean Air Assist program, and the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership. Hart also worked in local economic development for Layton City and spent time in the private sector as an underwriter for Zions Bank. Hart serves on several boards, including the Inland Port Board, the Military Installation Development Authority, the Commission on Housing Affordability, and others. He has been an active member in several national associations affiliated with education and industry trade associations, including the National Association for Career and Technical Education, the Air Force Association, and others. Mr. Hart completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Utah in economics. Hart, and his wife Jennifer, are the parents of three children. They live in Northern Utah, where they enjoy spending time outdoors and being involved in all education levels.

801-538-8799 benhart@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Operations

Kori Ann Edwards

Kori Ann Edwards is the managing director of operations at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah). As managing director, she oversees finance, compliance, policy, business intelligence, contract management, human resources, technology services, and facility management. Under Edward’s leadership, the operations team is delivery-focused, ensuring organizational success through efficiency measures and careful consideration of all resources. Recognizing its stewardship of Go Utah’s finances, work environment, and human resources, the team strives to deliver innovative and thoughtful service through continuous quality improvement. Before joining Go Utah, Edwards worked at Logistic Specialties, Inc. (LSI) for 20 years, most recently as COO and SVP. At LSI, she focused on economic development initiatives primarily in the aerospace, defense, and advanced manufacturing targeted industries. Edwards also serves on numerous executive boards across the community, many of whom she serves as board chair. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University in political science, with minors in economics and business/human resource management. Edwards and her husband, Mark, have three beautiful children and reside in Hooper, Utah. She enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing, and any activity that lets her spend time with her family.

801-538-8623 kaedwards@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Business Services

Ryan Starks

Ryan Starks is the managing director of business services at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah), where he oversees the strategic growth plan for Utah’s targeted industries and manages the agency’s small-business and rural development initiatives. Starks also oversees Go Utah’s business services team, including the Utah Innovation Center, the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), the Center for Rural Development, broadband initiatives, a partnership with the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), and the Opportunity Zones program. Before joining Go Utah, Starks was the economic development director in Wasatch County and the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Office executive director. He previously worked in the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accountability Office in Washington, DC. Starks also works as an adjunct professor of management in the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Romney Institute of Public Management at Brigham Young University. Starks and his wife have four children and live in Heber, Utah. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, and spending time with his family and friends.

801-538-8794 ryanstarks@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Tourism & Film

Vicki Varela

Vicki Varela is the managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, which includes the Utah Film Commission, at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah). She oversees the state’s national and international strategy to create a quality and responsible tourism economy and expand film production in Utah. Before joining Go Utah, Varela’s professional experience includes vice president of Kennecott Land, deputy chief of staff and spokesperson for Gov. Mike Leavitt, and Assistant Commissioner of Higher Education. She started her career as a journalist. Varela was named the U.S. Tourism Director of the Year in 2016. Utah Business magazine has recognized her as a Business Leader and Woman to Watch. She was named one of America’s 25 Great Minds by the Hospitality, Sales, and Marketing International. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has two adult children and one beautiful granddaughter. Varela enjoys adventures in Utah and around the world, including biking, hiking, and river rafting.

801-538-1369 vvarela@utah.gov

_Associate Managing Director of Communications

Pete Codella

Pete Codella is the associate managing director of communications at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah). He’s responsible for overseeing the office’s external and internal communications activities. He managed the successful ‘In Utah’ campaign that encouraged Utahns’ to shop, dine, play, and stay in Utah to bolster the state’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, he received Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. Before joining Go Utah, Codella worked in a variety of public relations and marketing settings. His experience includes higher education, the private sector, and as a consultant and entrepreneur. He’s also taught public relations and social media courses at Utah Valley University, University of Nevada - Las Vegas, University of California - Irvine Extension, and the University of Utah. Codella has served as a former local chapter president and district chair for the Public Relations Society of America. He’s also been a local chapter president for the International Association of Business Communicators and Social Media Club. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah. Codella and his wife, Vickey, have two teenage children and an ausiedoodle. He enjoys home improvement projects, cooking and baking, and performing in musical theater productions.

801-538-8774 pcodella@utah.gov