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Snyder Calls Department Shifts ‘First Acts’ of 2nd Term

December 22, 2014

Gov. Rick SNYDER Thursday announced an executive order that restructures a number of state departments in hopes of spurring economic growth and reducing the state’s still high unemployment rate.

“I would describe this as probably one of the first acts I’m taking to make sure the second term is more exciting than the first term,” Snyder said in a press conference today. 

He said the restructuring shifts the various departments into a more “coordinated” hierarchy. 

The executive order creates the new Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED), with Steve ARWOOD — the Michigan Economic Development Corporation COO — at the helm. He’ll also now serve as the CEO of MEDC, if the executive committee gives him the green light. 

Mike FINNEY will step down from his position as the CEO of the MEDC, and move to Snyder’s executive staff, working as a senior advisor for economic growth. 

Snyder also created the new Talent Investment Agency (TIA), naming the Deputy Director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Stephanie COMAI, as the director and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. 

Shelly EDGERTON and Kevin ELSENHEIMER will continue to serve as deputy directors without Comai, under Mike ZIMMER, who was appointed as the permanent — rather than merely “acting” — director of LARA. 

The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority will now be under the new department, as well as the Michigan Strategic Fund, which was originally a function of the MEDC, a quasi-governmental agency. 

The new structure places “the three pillars of economic development” all under one roof, according to a press release from the Snyder administration. 

The Talent Investment Agency will coordinate a number of job-preparedness programs, career education and skilled trades training, among other things. The goal is to lift the structurally unemployed out of the muck, according to Comai and the others. 

“With all this reorganization, what does it mean?” Snyder asked, attempting to address what must have been on the minds of many reporters in the room. 

“It’s a good thing,” he said. 

Comai described it as a way to better serve businesses, the community and quickly line up unemployed workers and open jobs, a gap that Snyder has said he’s been trying to narrow for quite a long time. He said this reorganization is part of that same push. 

“I didn’t want to wait. That’s why I signed this executive order today,” Snyder said. 

Comai said the job of TED and TIA is to “figure out how we can serve more businesses and provide more workers with access to training.” Most importantly, she said it’s supposed to “quickly and effectively move (unemployed) workers back into a well-paying job.” 

Finney noted that he would be working toward the same goals under his new position as Snyder’s advisor. 

All the shifts are more than a little dizzying, but Arwood described it this way: “One team. Focused on the customer. Continuing our growth for all Michiganders.” 

Chief Executive Luann DUNSFORD of Michigan Works! called the new plan a “bold path forward,” in a press release today, stating that it would “align important initiatives that support local job providers and help attract, keep and hire talent in Michigan.” 

The new department and agency will start 60 days following the start of the new legislative session.

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