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ST. PAUL — Matt Varilek, president of the Small Falls-primarily based Initiative Foundation, will lead the Minnesota Division of Employment and Financial Improvement.

“Possessing grown up in a reduced-revenue household, I am passionate about assisting much more folks get pleasure from higher financial prosperity,” Varilek stated in a news release. “I’m deeply grateful to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan for the chance to join the talented group at DEED at this pivotal moment. The division has just been entrusted with an unprecedented set of tools and sources, and I am eager to enable place them to function for the advantage of firms, workers, and households across Minnesota.” 

Gov. Tim Walz announced Varilek’s appointment Thursday, Might 25. Varilek will replace Kevin McKinnon, who has been serving as short-term commissioner due to the fact March. The Division of Employment and Financial Improvement is the state’s principal financial improvement agency, advertising business enterprise recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce improvement, international trade, and neighborhood improvement.

“From strengthening the economy and communities of Higher Minnesota to advocating for modest firms on the federal level, Matt Varilek brings a wealth of expertise and expertise to his new function driving our state’s economy forward,” Walz stated in a news release. “I appear forward to operating with him to develop Minnesota’s powerful, vibrant, and diverse economy and assistance our workers and firms.”

Varilek was named Initiative Foundation president in 2016. Prior to joining the Initiative Foundation, he served as chief operating officer for the U.S. Tiny Small business Administration in Washington, D.C. His transition to the DEED commissioner function will take place on June 20.

“Matt Varilek is a steady, thoughtful leader who brings tremendous expertise driving financial improvement and prosperity in diverse communities across the state,” stated Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Having partnered with him to advance family members financial safety and youngster care in the previous, I am confident in Matt’s capability to function inside and across communities — from Higher Minnesota and the Twin Cities to our tribal nations – to create a much more equitable and inclusive economy that performs for all Minnesotans.”

Previously, Varilek was the chief operating officer for the U.S. Tiny Small business Administration, a regional administrator for U.S. SBA Area VIII, and a candidate for Congress for the at-significant district of South Dakota. Varilek was also an financial improvement director and speechwriter for the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson and served as the director of policy and investigation for Natsource LLC.

Varilek earned his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College, his Master of Philosophy in financial improvement from the University of Glasgow, and his Master of Philosophy in atmosphere and improvement from the University of Cambridge.

“Matt has been a tremendous buddy, leader and organizational culture-builder for the Initiative Foundation,” stated Kim Ellingson, chair of the Initiative Foundation Board of Trustees, in a news release. “While his transition will be bittersweet, we’re in complete assistance of his appointment as DEED commissioner. His steady and inclusive leadership style, and his expertise and focused function on modest business enterprise, workforce improvement, childcare and much more will translate completely to an agency that influences financial improvement in every single corner of Minnesota.”

As aspect of its succession arranging, the Initiative Foundation Board of Trustees anticipates naming an interim president and will undertake a professionally supported search for Varilek’s successor. Information about the search will stick to in the weeks ahead.

“The Initiative Foundation has never ever been stronger,” Ellingson stated. “Our board and employees are totally committed to serving the area with out interruption throughout this time of transition.”

Reactions to the appointment, integrated:

“Matt brings an outstanding background for this function, like expertise with state and federal policy, deep relationships in business enterprise, nonprofits and foundations, and an vital viewpoint from rural Minnesota,” stated Minnesota Council on Foundations President Susie Brown, in a news release. “I’m so pleased that Minnesota’s philanthropic neighborhood has a powerful and constructive partnership with Commissioner Varilek. We appear forward to operating with him and the DEED group to assistance Minnesota’s financial improvement possibilities.”

“Matt Varilek is a accurate leader and a constant champion for firms in Higher Minnesota,” stated Joe Nayquonabe, Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in a news release. “He was a driving force behind the Enterprise Academy plan inside the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy and as CEO of the Initiative Foundation, he led a convening of other foundations across the state, advertising a ‘better together’ mentality. I’m confident he’ll bring that very same leadership to the workplace of DEED and build an atmosphere of innovation and development.”

“When I served as board chair of the Initiative Foundation, I got to see Matt’s steady and inclusive leadership style in action – welcoming diverse voices and assisting to discover a path absolutely everyone could really feel excellent about,” stated Wyoming Machine, Inc. Co-President Traci Tapani. “As a business enterprise owner, I’m excited that he brings in depth expertise of workforce improvement, modest business enterprise lending, and other concerns that are vital to firms, significant and modest.  Matt is exceptionally effectively equipped to function productively with the business enterprise neighborhood as DEED’s subsequent leader, and I congratulate Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanaganon a good selection.”

For much more specifics about the agency and its solutions, stop by the DEED web-site at

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