Walz appoints 15-person economic expansion board

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Governor Tim Walz has appointed a 15-person council to develop economic policy proposals and recommendations for spending the state’s remaining COVID-19 relief aid, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion includes leaders from business, labor and nonprofits who will work with local governments, nonprofits, colleges and universities, according to a statement from hurry. They will also coordinate with commissioners from the Departments of Employment and Economic Development, Labor and Industry, and State Human Services.

The council will be co-chaired by Jeff Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel and a big supporter of the 2018 Walz campaign, and Paul Williams, CEO and president of Project for Pride in Living, an affordable housing and job training nonprofit.

Other members include Brett Carter, executive vice president of Xcel Energy; Joe Fowler, president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council; Neel Kashkari, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; Marcus Owens, executive director of the African American Leadership Forum; and Penny Wheeler, CEO of Allina Health.

After a difficult term as governor marked by the pandemic and resulting recession, civil unrest and political polarization, Walz’s new board suggests an effort to bring together the broad and geographically diverse coalition of business and labor which propelled him to a decisive victory in 2018.

Members’ terms expire July 1, 2022. After addressing funding for the U.S. bailout, they will develop a “roadmap to achieve a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient Minnesota,” according to the press release.

The Minnesota state government received about $2.8 billion in federal stimulus funds. Walz and legislative leaders agreed to set aside $1.15 billion for long-term COVID-19 needs, which the legislature will determine how to distribute in 2022.

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