Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order earlier this month meant to streamline and better coordinate efforts within state government to meet business and labor needs.
The order consolidates workforce and economic development functions under the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, formerly the Department of Talent and Economic Development.
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity 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 businesses.”
The order consolidates all workforce and economic development functions, which were previously scattered between various departments. Among other agencies, LEO will include the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan Office for New Americans, which is transferred from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and rebranded 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.
Whitmer named Jeff Donofrio the new director of the department.
“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.”
Donofrio has served under Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as the city’s executive director of workforce development since 2015, helping increase residential employment by more than 20,000 under his tenure.
In this role, he led initiatives to reform workforce development programs for in-demand fields, build better pathways to high-paying careers and remove barriers to employment, including leading the charge against the now-defunct driver responsibility fees.
Stephanie Beckhorn will remain as the acting director of the department until a start date is confirmed for Donofrio.
Together with its store guests and company associates, the SpartanNash Foundation’s Special Olympics fundraising scan campaign raised $165,000 on behalf of Special Olympics athletes and State Summer Games in Michigan.
Between May 1 and 12, the SpartanNash Foundation hosted the companywide fundraising scan campaign in SpartanNash-owned stores throughout the Midwest, giving store guests the opportunity to donate $1, $5 or $10 at any checkout lane.
In each state, SpartanNash stores — including Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market — teamed up to support Special Olympics partners, resulting in the $255,200 total.
“Along with our store guests and associates, SpartanNash and the SpartanNash Foundation are deeply committed to supporting Special Olympics in the states we serve, and the success of our recent retail scan demonstrates that support,” said Meredith Gremel, vice president of corporate affairs and communications and executive director of the SpartanNash Foundation.
“We are most grateful to all who joined forces with the SpartanNash Foundation to support this worthy cause and raise awareness of the importance of Special Olympics’ mission and the athletes who excel through good sportsmanship and competition.”
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Since 1985, SpartanNash and its charitable giving arm, the SpartanNash Foundation, have donated more than $9.6 million and thousands of volunteer hours through its partnership with Special Olympics.
Annually, SpartanNash associates volunteer more than 2,000 hours with Special Olympics.
SpartanNash has been the presenting sponsor of the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games since 1985. The company also has supported Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games since 2003.
In Michigan, SpartanNash associates also prepare and feed hundreds of volunteers throughout the State Summer Games. SpartanNash donates all of the food for the volunteers and prints the State Summer Games programs and handbooks, as well.
One hundred percent of all funds raised during the annual Special Olympics fundraising scan campaign go to year-round sports training and athletic competition opportunities. SpartanNash underwrites the costs to run the scan campaign, contributes funding and encourages associates to volunteer during Special Olympics State Summer Games and beyond.
The Special Olympics retail scan campaign is the second of four fundraising campaigns the SpartanNash Foundation will conduct in 2019.
To date, the SpartanNash Foundation has raised $434,700 on behalf of local Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics partners in eight states. Upcoming retail scans will raise funds and awareness for patriotic partners (June 26-July 7) and community food pantries (Oct. 23-Nov. 3).
City Manager Mark Washington recently announced the finalists in the search for Grand Rapids’ next police chief.
They are Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski, retired Pittsburgh Assistant Police Chief Larry Scirotto and Grand Rapids Deputy Police Chief Eric Payne.
“These finalists have proven senior executive law enforcement experience,” Washington said. “They are outstanding leaders, and they have devoted their careers to keeping communities safe. They also are committed to collaboration and building trust with the community.”
Yankowski is a 25-year veteran of the Lansing Police Department, serving as chief since 2013. He leads 248 sworn and nonsworn personnel.
Before becoming chief, Yankowski was a police captain responsible for the patrol division and 150 personnel. He also worked in internal affairs and as a patrol watch commander, canine handler and supervisor, and street supervisor.
Scirotto served with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for 23 years, becoming its youngest assistant chief. Before that, he was commander of Zone 3 — a major Pittsburgh entertainment district — and then led the Major Crimes Division.
Scirotto later led the department’s professional standards branch and was responsible for internal affairs, training education, officer wellness and safety, and policy oversight. He oversaw the department’s policy implementation efforts related to the national initiative for building community trust and justice. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has an authorized staff of 950 sworn officers.
Payne has served the Grand Rapids Police Department for 33 years. As deputy chief of operations, he leads the patrol division, special response team, traffic unit, office of special events and canine unit. He oversees a team of five captains, eight lieutenants, 23 sergeants and 159 officers.
Payne previously served as captain of the investigative division, which includes the detective, vice and forensic services units. He also was captain of the South Service Area and the department’s crisis negotiation team, as well as administrative lieutenant of the South Service Area and patrol watch commander. He supervised the major case, combined auto theft, burglary and general case teams. The department has 297 sworn officers.