Minn. gov promotes trade chief to lead econ agency

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday appointed the director of the state Trade Office, who also worked on his 2010 campaign, as the new commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Katie Clark will lead the 1,500-employee agency that promotes economic and workforce development, fosters international trade and administers programs to laid-off workers.

Clark replaces Mark Phillips, who is leaving for an undisclosed private sector opportunity. Dayton's chief of staff, Tina Smith, said it was Phillips' decision to pursue the new opportunity but did not have details on where he's going.

A veteran of former Gov. Rudy Perpich's administration, Phillips had been working for a construction firm when Dayton appointed him in early 2011.

Clark, 31, was finance director for Dayton's campaign for governor. She previously worked in business development and recruitment for Target Corporation and also for a wind energy startup. Dayton himself once led the Department of Employment and Economic Development under Perpich, and Smith noted that the governor like Clark was 31 years old when he first took the job.

Clark said Dayton has made it clear that the agency's top priority is making sure Minnesotans have jobs. She said the agency is well-run but that an early focus would be analyzing its programs to make sure they're effective.