Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

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

“Getting grown up in a reduce-earnings household, I am passionate about assisting far more individuals appreciate 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 assist place them to function for the advantage of firms, workers, and households across Minnesota.” 

Gov. Tim Walz announced Varilek’s appointment Thursday, May well 25. Varilek will replace Kevin McKinnon, who has been serving as short-term commissioner because March. The Division of Employment and Financial Improvement is the state’s principal financial improvement agency, advertising small business 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 understanding and encounter to his new part driving our state’s economy forward,” Walz stated in a news release. “I appear forward to functioning 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 part will happen 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,” stated Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Having partnered with him to advance household 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 develop a far 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 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 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 encounter and focused function on tiny small business, workforce improvement, childcare and far more will translate completely to an agency that influences financial improvement in every single corner of Minnesota.”

As element of its succession preparing, 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 adhere to in the weeks ahead.

“The Initiative Foundation has in no way been stronger,” Ellingson stated. “Our board and employees are completely committed to serving the area without the need of interruption through this time of transition.”

Reactions to the appointment, incorporated:

“Matt brings an outstanding background for this part, such as encounter with state and federal policy, deep relationships in small business, nonprofits and foundations, and an crucial 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 sturdy and good connection with Commissioner Varilek. We appear forward to functioning 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,” 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 system 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 exact same leadership to the workplace of DEED and generate 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 locate a path everybody could really feel superior about,” stated Wyoming Machine, Inc. Co-President Traci Tapani. “As a small business owner, I’m excited that he brings substantial understanding of workforce improvement, tiny small business lending, and other concerns that are crucial to firms, significant and tiny.  Matt is exceptionally effectively equipped to function productively with the small business neighborhood as DEED’s subsequent leader, and I congratulate Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanaganon a wonderful selection.”

For far more specifics about the agency and its solutions, go to the DEED web page at

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