_Executive Director

Q. Val Hale

Val Hale is executive director at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), which promotes state growth in business, tourism, film and outdoor recreation. Hale was appointed to the position in 2014 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert. Before GOED, Hale served for two years as president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, leading efforts in business community issues. Hale received a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a master’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. Hale and his wife have three children and 13 grandchildren and reside in Orem, Utah.

801-538-8769 vhale@utah.gov

_Deputy Director

Benjamin Hart

Benjamin Hart is deputy director at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Hart helps develop the strategic direction of the office. He oversees corporate recruitment and incentives, the diplomacy office, strategic partnerships and various other programs designed to help expand Utah’s economy. Before GOED, Hart served as the director of employer initiatives for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Hart helped develop programs such as the Small Business Bridge program, the UCAIR Clean Air Assist program and the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership.

801-538-8799 benhart@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Internal Operations

Kori Ann Edwards

Kori Ann Edwards is the managing director of operations at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). In this role, she provides operational strategies, planning and tactical management to ensure GOED has the proper internal controls and administrative and reporting procedures. Edwards ensures the agency has people and systems in place to support operating efficiencies. Edwards is responsible for building and maintaining robust systems, processes and management capacities and oversees GOED’s areas of finance, compliance, policy, contract management, human resources, technology services and facilities. Before joining GOED, Edwards worked at Logistic Specialties, Inc. (LSI) for 20 years, most recently as COO and SVP. Edwards serves on numerous executive boards across the community, many of which she is serving as the board chair. Edwards received 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.

801-538-8623 kaedwards@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Business Services

Ryan Starks

Ryan Starks is managing director for urban and rural business services at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). As managing director, Starks directs a strategic growth plan for Utah’s industry cluster program and manages GOED’s rural programs and workforce development initiatives. Additionally, he oversees GOED’s business services, including Utah’s Business Resource Centers, the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the Utah SBIR Center. He received a bachelor's degree from Weber State University and a master's degree in public administration from the Marriott School at Brigham Young University. Before joining GOED, Starks was executive director of Heber Valley Tourism and Economic Development. He and his wife, and their four children, reside in Heber, Utah.

801-538-8794 ryanstarks@utah.gov

_Managing Director of Tourism, Film and Global Branding

Vicki Varela

Vicki Varela is managing director at the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding. She oversees the state’s national and international strategy to create a quality and responsible tourism economy. Varela was named the U.S. Tourism Director of the Year in September 2016. She has held many public and private sector leadership roles, including vice president of Kennecott Land, deputy chief of staff and spokesperson for Gov. Mike Leavitt, and Assistant Commissioner of Higher Education. She has two adult children and one beautiful granddaughter.

801-538-1369 vvarela@utah.gov

_Director of Marketing and Communications

Pete Codella

Pete Codella is the director of marketing and communications for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Before joining the GOED team, Codella worked in public relations and marketing communications with experience in higher education, the private sector, and as a consultant and entrepreneur. He has taught public relations and social media courses at Utah Valley University, UNLV, UCI Extension, and the University of Utah. He is a former local chapter president and district chair for the Public Relations Society of America. He has also been a local chapter president for the International Association of Business Communicators and Social Media Club. He received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah. Codella and his wife — a high school special education teacher — have two teenage children and an ausiedoodle, and reside in South Jordan, Utah.

801-538-8774 pcodella@utah.gov

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