Snyder launches new state ‘talent’ department

Gary Heinlein
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder and three state directors held a briefing Monday as they launched a new state department and agency he says will make Michigan a leader in closing a “talent gap” between people needing employment and skilled technical jobs for which there are too few suitable applicants.

Snyder said Michigan’s Department of Talent and Economic Development, which he created by executive order in December, is “very much in line with my vision for the river of opportunity.” That was the theme of his January State of the State message calling for a fundamental reshaping of state government to serve residents better.

On Monday, he promised “results, not bureaucracy.” His new department, TED for short, is headed by Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Steve Arwood. The quasi-public business recruitment corporation becomes part of TED.

TED’s job will be to assess the state’s talent pool and training needs, develop strategies for matching them and create a campaign to spread the word about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

The new department includes a newly created Talent Investment Agency headed by former Licensing and Regulatory Affairs deputy director Stephanie Comai; the Michigan State Housing Development Authority headed since August by former deputy state treasurer Wayne Workman; and the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Arwood said Michigan is “growing” and “vibrant” but the state faces the same challenge as other states: how to fill the technical jobs created in the new economy.