• Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

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


May 25, 2023

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

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

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

“From strengthening the financial system and communities of Better Minnesota to advocating for small companies on the federal degree, Matt Varilek brings a wealth of data and expertise to his new function driving our state’s financial system ahead,” Walz stated in a information launch. “I stay up for working with him to develop Minnesota’s sturdy, vibrant, and numerous financial system and help our employees 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 function will happen on June 20.

“Matt Varilek is a gradual, considerate chief who brings large expertise driving financial improvement and prosperity in numerous communities throughout the state,” stated Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Having partnered with him to advance household financial safety and baby care previously, I’m assured in Matt’s means to work inside and throughout communities — from Better Minnesota and the Twin Cities to our tribal nations – to construct a extra equitable and inclusive financial 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 places of work 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 pal, chief and organizational culture-builder for the Initiative Basis,” stated Kim Ellingson, chair of the Initiative Basis Board of Trustees, in a information launch. “Whereas his transition will probably be bittersweet, we’re in full help 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 concerning the search will observe within the weeks forward.

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

Reactions to the appointment, included:

“Matt brings an unimaginable background for this function, together with expertise with state and federal coverage, deep relationships in enterprise, nonprofits and foundations, and an essential perspective from rural Minnesota,” stated 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 stay up for working with him and the DEED crew to help Minnesota’s financial improvement alternatives.”

“Matt Varilek is a real chief and a constant champion for companies in Better Minnesota,” stated Joe Nayquonabe, Commissioner of Company Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in a information launch. “He was a driving drive behind the Enterprise Academy program throughout 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 convey that very same management to the workplace of DEED and create an surroundings of innovation and development.”

“After I served as board chair of the Initiative Basis, I obtained to see Matt’s regular and inclusive management fashion in motion – welcoming numerous voices and serving to to discover a path everybody may be ok with,” stated Wyoming Machine, Inc. Co-President Traci Tapani. “As a enterprise proprietor, I’m excited that he brings in depth information of workforce improvement, small enterprise lending, and different points which can be 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 a terrific selection.”

For extra particulars concerning the company and its companies, go to the DEED web site at


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