Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Matt Varilek Confirmed as DEED Commissioner During Second Walz-Flanagan Term

St. Paul – Today, the Minnesota Senate voted to confirm Matt Varilek as Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan’s second term. Varilek has served as DEED commissioner since June 2023. Before joining DEED, Commissioner Varilek was president of the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation, and prior to that served as a senior leader at the Small Business Administration both in Washington D.C. and in Denver. Additionally, his business experience includes five years with a New York-based energy commodities brokerage.

“Matt Varilek brings extensive experience and a deep commitment to economic and community development,” said Governor Walz. “From strengthening economies in Greater Minnesota to advocating for businesses, workers and families across the state, his knowledge will allow us to continue building a more equitable economy for all Minnesotans.”

“Matt Varilek has demonstrated a continued commitment to ensuring economic development and prosperity for all Minnesotans, from all backgrounds and in every corner of the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “I look forward to working with him to continue growing a strong, vibrant and diverse economy.”

As a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, Varilek has been a strong leader in carrying out DEED programs that help make Minnesota the best state for families, workers, businesses and communities. DEED has historic funding and new initiatives that will improve broadband access, increase the supply of child care, address the workforce shortage in high-demand fields including clean energy and in historically underserved communities, and support economic development and business expansion that leverages federal resources and supports vibrant small businesses.

DEED is also building and preparing to implement Paid Leave, a major new program that will support Minnesota’s families and workers by providing paid time off after life-changing events, helping them stay in or reenter the workforce and keeping our labor pool strong.

During the last several years, DEED directed funding – with a deliberate focus on businesses, communities and entrepreneurs from Black, brown, Indigenous and communities of color – and launched several new programs to build the next chapter of workforce and economic development in Minnesota. Under Commissioner Varilek, DEED is investing in Minnesota’s historically-underserved communities through programs including:

• $125M - The PROMISE Act to help businesses recover from financial and social upheaval since 2020.

• $50M - Targeted Populations to bring workers who have been overlooked for employment – particularly people of color – into the workforce at family-sustaining wages.

• $20M - Drive for 5 to prepare the workforce to enter five of the most critical occupational categories.

• $20M – At-risk youth employment programs to prepare more Minnesota young people to enter the workforce focused and work-ready.

• $4M - Employer Reasonable Accommodation Program to help businesses provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

• Establishing a permanent Office of New Americans to help immigrants and refugees navigate the employment and business services available to them.

"Having grown up in a lower-income family, I'm passionate about the work we do at DEED to help make Minnesota an even more prosperous place, for everyone," said Commissioner Varilek. "Minnesota’s economy is at a critical point, and by partnering with community leaders, businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits to make the transformational change we need, our state will remain the best place to live, raise a family and start and grow a business."

Varilek was born and raised in Yankton, South Dakota. Prior to joining DEED in June 2023, he served for seven years as president of the Initiative Foundation, which supports economic and community development in the 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations of Central Minnesota. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), regional administrator for U.S. SBA Region VIII and a candidate for Congress in South Dakota. He also served as an Economic Development Director and Speechwriter for the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson, and Director of Policy and Research for Natsource LLC, an energy brokerage based in New York. Commissioner Varilek earned a B.A. from Carleton College, a M.Phil. in Economic Development from the University of Glasgow and a M.Phil. in Environment and Development from the University of Cambridge. He lives in rural Benton County near Rice with his wife and three children.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. Find out how DEED delivers for Minnesota by visiting the DEED website,, or follow us on X.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 05/28/2024 03:29