Published: January 30, 2024 | Updated: January 25, 2024

North Idaho Alliance’s Women of Impact spotlights local women of commerce

Marilee Wallace

Marilee Wallace

North Idaho Alliance’s Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable met in January to discuss Commerce. More specifically, how it plays out in our community and who are some of the women influencing it.

Tourism is and always will be a huge economic driver in our region and the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel is a leader in North Idaho. It is estimated the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort and Coeur d’Alene Tribe-related activities benefits Idaho’s economy a whopping $330 million annually. Laura Penney is the CEO of the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort, which employs 900 people across its hotel, casino, spa, event center, six restaurants and world-renowned golf course.  

Chambers of Commerce: A nonprofit organization found in most cities is an organization that is membership driven. C of C’s were established in 1912 in the United Sates with one common thread, to support and promote commerce within their communities. We have several C of C’s in North Idaho including Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, Post Falls, Rathdrum and Wallace. Christina Petit, president and CEO of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce filled our group in on the variety of offerings her chamber offers to businesses and a snapshot of the future role’s chambers will play as businesses evolve in our region.

Economic Development: The Coeur d’Alene Area EDC (CdAEDC) is the economic development organization for Kootenai County, representing all the rural communities in the region and the four larger communities: Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden and Rathdrum. Their mission is to build a healthy economy for the region by strengthening the base, diversifying the economy, supporting the creation of new jobs, and advancing workforce development in cooperation with local, regional and state economic partners, and existing businesses and industries to facilitate business retention, expansion and attraction. Established in 1987 as Jobs Plus, it has recruited more than 125 companies to North Idaho. $722 million total capital investment in Kootenai County and $144 million in total annual payroll. Led by Gynni Gilliam, CDAEDC analyzes growing entrepreneurial activities, and recruits new businesses to help diversify and strengthen our economy. 

Connect Kootenai is a community-based nonprofit that has created a long-term vision for Kootenai County as well as a detailed implementation plan for how we get there. The Plan focuses on community, education, environment, housing and growth, safety and health, and jobs and economy. Raising awareness of the implementation plan and ensuring the sustainability of the nonprofit is Executive Director Gretta Gissle. One top priority for her and the advisory board is affordable housing and sustainable growth. Their work is vast and comprehensive and we encourage everyone to interact with this group and read about the plan at

NIA’s Women of Impact is putting final touches on the Annual Onward & Upward Women’s Conference 2024. This year’s theme is “Communicating. Let’s Talk about it.” Held May 22, 2024, at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn, we are already filling up on ticket sales and sponsorships. Follow us on Facebook or our website at to get details on NIA’s offerings to Impact women in our region.

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Marilee Wallace, IOM, president/CEO of the North Idaho Alliance Women of Impact. The Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable meets once a month for a nine-month series, and we base our monthly agenda on the word IMPACTED.