• Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

Varilek to Lead Minnesota Division of Employment and Financial Improvement – Brainerd Dispatch


May 25, 2023

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 extra individuals take pleasure in higher financial prosperity,” Varilek mentioned 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 assist place them to operate for the advantage of firms, workers, and households across Minnesota.” 

Gov. Tim Walz announced Varilek’s appointment Thursday, May possibly 25. Varilek will replace Kevin McKinnon, who has been serving as short-term commissioner considering that 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 tiny firms on the federal level, Matt Varilek brings a wealth of expertise and encounter to his new function driving our state’s economy forward,” Walz mentioned in a news release. “I appear forward to operating with him to develop Minnesota’s sturdy, 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 encounter driving financial improvement and prosperity in diverse communities across the state,” mentioned Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Having partnered with him to advance family members financial safety and kid care in the previous, I am confident in Matt’s capability to operate inside and across communities — from Higher Minnesota and the Twin Cities to our tribal nations – to create a extra equitable and inclusive economy that functions 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-big 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 analysis 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 pal, leader and organizational culture-builder for the Initiative Foundation,” mentioned 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 encounter and focused operate on tiny business enterprise, workforce improvement, childcare and extra will translate completely to an agency that influences financial improvement in just about every 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. Specifics about the search will stick to in the weeks ahead.

“The Initiative Foundation has never ever been stronger,” Ellingson mentioned. “Our board and employees are completely committed to serving the area without the need of interruption throughout this time of transition.”

Reactions to the appointment, integrated:

“Matt brings an amazing background for this function, such as encounter with state and federal policy, deep relationships in business enterprise, nonprofits and foundations, and an critical viewpoint from rural Minnesota,” mentioned Minnesota Council on Foundations President Susie Brown, in a news release. “I’m so pleased that Minnesota’s philanthropic neighborhood has a sturdy 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 correct leader and a constant champion for firms in Higher Minnesota,” mentioned 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 make 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 uncover a path absolutely everyone could really feel very good about,” mentioned Wyoming Machine, Inc. Co-President Traci Tapani. “As a business enterprise owner, I’m excited that he brings comprehensive expertise of workforce improvement, tiny business enterprise lending, and other problems that are critical to firms, big and tiny.  Matt is exceptionally properly equipped to operate productively with the business enterprise neighborhood as DEED’s subsequent leader, and I congratulate Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanaganon a good decision.”

For extra information about the agency and its solutions, take a look at the DEED web site at


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