Dayton Taps 3 to Lead Econ. Development Efforts

Mark Phillips has been named commissioner for the Department of Employment and Economic Development; John Edman was reappointed as director of Explore Minnesota; and Kathy Tunheim will occupy a volunteer position as senior advisor for job creation.

Governor Mark Dayton announced Wednesday the appointment of three key members of his economic development and job creation team.

Mark Phillips, director of business development for Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson Construction, has been named commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Phillips has more than 25 years of experience in development and finance, including stints as director of community and economic development at the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and director of development for Minnesota Power, among other leadership positions.

Phillips will begin his new job on January 31, and he replaces former commissioner Dan McElroy, who led the department since 2007. McElroy left DEED earlier this month, according to agency spokesman Monte Hanson. In November, McElroy was named president of Hospitality Minnesota.

“It is an honor to be chosen to lead this agency that's so important to our state's economy,” Phillips said in a statement. “Governor Dayton has made it clear that jobs are his number one priority, and I am ready to get to work to enhance Minnesota's economic environment and support the governor in his mission to get Minnesotans working again.”

Dayton also announced the reappointment of John Edman as director of Explore Minnesota, the state's tourism office. He has held the position since 2000, and he previously served as director of marketing for Carlson Destination Marketing Services.

Kathy Tunheim, founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based communications firm Tunheim Partners and president of IPREX Worldwide, will act as senior advisor for job creation. In the volunteer position, Tunheim will focus on analyzing data to determine what will drive job growth in the state and give it a competitive advantage. She will report directly to Dayton and work hand-in-hand with DEED.

“[Tunheim] brings priceless experience and exceptional working relationships with many of Minnesota's business and other civic leaders,” Dayton said in a statement. “She will help me to develop those relationships and, despite the painful task of balancing the state's budget, reach out to Minnesota's job providers to find out what we can do to encourage their continued success and growth in our state.”

Tunheim, who has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, was named one of the “200 Minnesotans You Should Know” by Twin Cities Business in April.