LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday creating the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).
Along with the creation of the new department, Whitmer also name Jeff Donofrio as director of LEO. Donofrio served under Detroit's Mayor Mike Duggan as the city's executive director of workforce development since 2015, helping to increase residential employment by more than 20,000 under his tenure.
“This new department will make Michigan a home for opportunity by improving how our state approaches workforce and economic development to ensure that everyone has a path to a high-paying job,” Whitmer said. “Jeff has proven that he knows how to get the job done by building strong partnerships with business and labor leaders, and I know that he’s the right guy to move this state in the right direction.”
This executive order restructures the Department of Talent and Economic Development by rebranding it as LEO. The order consolidates all of workforce and economic development functions, which were previously scattered between various departments, into LEO's department to streamline operations, according to a press release from the Governors Office.
LEO will include the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan Office of New Americans, which is transferred from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and re-branded as the Office for Global Michigan.
The executive order also creates new commissions within the department, including the Workers' Disability Compensation Appeals Commission and the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission.
“Michigan is home to some of the hardest working people and best businesses in the world,” Donofrio said. “And while we've seen strong job growth since the Great Recession, too many of our residents still struggle to make ends meet today, and many more worry about how they and their families will fair in the future. While talent is equally distributed across the state, opportunity often isn't. I'm excited to get to work increasing opportunity for Michiganders by closing the skills gap, breaking down barriers to work, and supporting job growth.”
Currently only 45% of Michiganders have a degree, credential, or certificate in addition to a high school diploma even though a majority of employers require further education.
The Governor's Office states that "LEO is charged with building a strong state economy by developing and implementing policies that enable greater opportunity for workforce and economic development, including a focus on closing the skills gap and boosting economic potential for business."
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