Former Stria CEO takes economic development role with Kern County

Jim Damian led the firm before and after Stria’s acquisition by Bitwise Industries. Amid the parent company’s collapse, he has a new gig.

Former Stria LLC CEO Jim Damian has been named as Kern County’s new Chief Economic Development Officer. 

Damian’s hiring comes shortly after his former company collapsed because of the implosion of Fresno tech and real estate company Bitwise, which had acquired Stria last year. 


The backstory: Damian founded Stria – a business processes outsourcing company – in 2005 and maintained control until the Bitwise acquisition last August. 

  • Under his watch, Stria was a five-time INC 5000 honoree and was named as Bakersfield’s 2022 Large Business of the Year. 
  • Damian was also named as Bakersfield’s 2021 Businessperson of the Year. 

The big picture: Damian’s position as Chief Economic Development Officer is a new one for Kern County. He starts on July 31 and will report to James Zervis, the incoming Kern County Chief Administrative Officer. 

  • With his new job, Damian will be responsible for targeting, attracting and retaining new businesses in Kern County – specifically in the destination retail, entertainment, logistics, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and energy sectors – as well as job creation. 
  • Damian will serve as the primary liaison to all local, regional and statewide economic development and business organizations while working to develop an internal organizational culture that is focused on business development and success. 

What they’re saying: “To be a model of excellence in managing our business and workforce, we must attract top talent to our organization and employ the very best,” Zervis said. “We believe that is what we’re getting with Mr. Damian, who will be a key factor in the economic success of our entire region.” 

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