Walz appoints 15-person economic expansion board

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Gov. 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 said on Tuesday.

The Governor’s Council for Economic Expansion includes business leaders, unions and nonprofits who will work with local governments, nonprofits, colleges and universities, according to a press release . They will also coordinate with the Commissioners of the Departments of Employment and Economic Development, Labor and Industry, and State Social Services.

The board will be co-chaired by Jeff Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel and a strong supporter of the Walz 2018 campaign, and Paul Williams, CEO and President of Project for Pride in Living, a nonprofit affordable housing and skills training organization.

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 tenure as governor marked by pandemic and recession, civil unrest and resulting political polarization, Walz’s new council suggests an effort to bring together the broad and geographically diverse coalition of business and workers which helped him to a landslide victory in 2018.

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

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


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