The Potluck

Walz appoints 15-person economic expansion council

By: - September 14, 2021 4:09 pm

Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a news conference on April 19, 2021, as the jury begins deliberations in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Gov. Tim Walz 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 business, labor and nonprofit leaders who will work with local governments, nonprofits, colleges and universities, according to a news release. They’ll also coordinate with the commissioners of the state’s departments of employment and economic development, labor and industry and human services.

The council will be co-chaired by former Hormel CEO and major 2018 Walz campaign supporter Jeff Ettinger and Paul Williams, CEO and president of Project for Pride in Living, an affordable housing and career 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 challenging tenure as governor marked by the pandemic and resulting recession, civil unrest and political polarization, Walz’s new council suggests an effort to gather the broad and geographically diverse coalition of business and labor that helped propel him to a commanding victory in 2018. 

Members’ terms expire on July 1, 2022. After they address the American Rescue Plan funding, they’ll develop a “roadmap to achieve a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient Minnesota,” according to the news release.

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

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.