Snyder plans to create state 'talent' department

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder plans to sign an executive order Thursday creating a new state department that combines several agencies and focuses on developing a workforce that can meet the needs of employers.

The new Department of Talent and Economic Development will combine the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the state's unemployment insurance agency and a new talent investment agency, according to Snyder's office.

The talent investment agency will serve as a clearinghouse for dozens of different federal and state workforce training programs in Michigan, said Sara Wurfel, press secretary for Snyder.

Heading into his second term in office, Snyder has said filling job openings in skilled trades is one of his top priorities.

There are more than 80,000 job openings through the state's Pure Michigan Talent Connect program. Snyder has said many of those jobs can't be filled because Michigan's workforce lacks the required skills.

Snyder will appoint Steve Arwood as the first director of the new department, Wurfel told The Detroit News.

Arwood is chief operating officer of the MEDC and previously was Snyder's director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

Mike Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC, will move to the governor's office and become Snyder's senior economic adviser, Wurfel said.

Stephanie Comai, who oversees the unemployment insurance agency as deputy director of LARA, will be named director of the new talent investment agency, Wurfel said.

Under the new agency, Wayne Workman remains acting executive director of MSHDA, Wurfel said.

Snyder plans to sign the executive order and detail the reorganization plan during a 10:15 a.m. press conference at his Lansing office. The governor's office will broadcast the press conference live on its website.

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