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

“Having grown up in a lower-income family, I am keen about serving to extra individuals get pleasure from larger financial prosperity,” Varilek mentioned in a information launch. “I am deeply grateful to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan for the chance to affix the gifted crew at DEED at this pivotal second. The division has simply been entrusted with an unprecedented set of instruments and sources, and I am keen to assist put them to work for the advantage of companies, staff, and households throughout Minnesota.” 

Gov. Tim Walz introduced Varilek’s appointment Thursday, Could 25. Varilek will exchange Kevin McKinnon, who has been serving as momentary commissioner since March. The Division of Employment and Financial Improvement is the state’s principal financial improvement company, selling enterprise recruitment, enlargement and retention, workforce improvement, worldwide commerce, and neighborhood improvement.

“From strengthening the economic system and communities of Higher Minnesota to advocating for small companies on the federal degree, Matt Varilek brings a wealth of data and expertise to his new position driving our state’s economic system ahead,” Walz mentioned in a information launch. “I look ahead to working with him to develop Minnesota’s robust, vibrant, and various economic system and assist our staff and companies.”

Varilek was named Initiative Basis president in 2016. Previous to becoming a member of the Initiative Basis, he served as chief working officer for the U.S. Small Enterprise Administration in Washington, D.C. His transition to the DEED commissioner position will happen on June 20.

“Matt Varilek is a gradual, considerate chief who brings large expertise driving financial improvement and prosperity in various communities throughout the state,” mentioned Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Having partnered with him to advance household financial safety and little one care previously, I’m assured in Matt’s capacity to work inside and throughout communities — from Higher Minnesota and the Twin Cities to our tribal nations – to construct a extra equitable and inclusive economic system that works for all Minnesotans.”

Beforehand, Varilek was the chief working officer for the U.S. Small Enterprise Administration, a regional administrator for U.S. SBA Area VIII, and a candidate for Congress for the at-large district of South Dakota. Varilek was additionally an financial improvement director and speechwriter for the workplaces of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson and served because the director of coverage and analysis for Natsource LLC.

Varilek earned his bachelor’s diploma from Carleton School, his Grasp of Philosophy in financial improvement from the College of Glasgow, and his Grasp of Philosophy in surroundings and improvement from the College of Cambridge.

“Matt has been an incredible buddy, chief and organizational culture-builder for the Initiative Basis,” mentioned Kim Ellingson, chair of the Initiative Basis Board of Trustees, in a information launch. “Whereas his transition will likely be bittersweet, we’re in full assist of his appointment as DEED commissioner. His regular and inclusive management fashion, and his expertise and centered work on small enterprise, workforce improvement, childcare and extra will translate completely to an company that influences financial improvement in each nook of Minnesota.”

As a part of its succession planning, the Initiative Basis Board of Trustees anticipates naming an interim president and can undertake a professionally supported seek for Varilek’s successor. Particulars in regards to the search will comply with within the weeks forward.

“The Initiative Basis has by no means been stronger,” Ellingson mentioned. “Our board and employees are absolutely dedicated to serving the area with out interruption throughout this time of transition.”

Reactions to the appointment, included:

“Matt brings an unbelievable background for this position, together with expertise with state and federal coverage, deep relationships in enterprise, nonprofits and foundations, and an essential perspective from rural Minnesota,” mentioned Minnesota Council on Foundations President Susie Brown, in a information launch. “I’m so happy that Minnesota’s philanthropic neighborhood has a robust and constructive relationship with Commissioner Varilek. We look ahead to working with him and the DEED crew to assist Minnesota’s financial improvement alternatives.”

“Matt Varilek is a real chief and a constant champion for companies in Higher Minnesota,” mentioned Joe Nayquonabe, Commissioner of Company Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in a information launch. “He was a driving pressure behind the Enterprise Academy program inside the Mille Lacs Tribal Economic system and as CEO of the Initiative Basis, he led a convening of different foundations throughout the state, selling a ‘higher collectively’ mentality. I’m assured he’ll deliver that very same management to the workplace of DEED and create an surroundings of innovation and progress.”

“After I served as board chair of the Initiative Basis, I bought to see Matt’s regular and inclusive management fashion in motion – welcoming various voices and serving to to discover a course everybody may be ok with,” mentioned Wyoming Machine, Inc. Co-President Traci Tapani. “As a enterprise proprietor, I’m excited that he brings in depth data of workforce improvement, small enterprise lending, and different points which are essential to companies, giant and small.  Matt is exceptionally nicely geared up to work productively with the enterprise neighborhood as DEED’s subsequent chief, and I congratulate Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanaganon an awesome selection.”

For extra particulars in regards to the company and its providers, go to the DEED web site at

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