The Maryland Department of Commerce will be under new leadership in 2019.
State Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill is stepping down in the new year, and plans to return to his previous role as chairman of investment banking and corporate advisory firm Evergreen Advisors, according to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.
Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Hogan is appointing Kelly M. Schulz as secretary of the department providing business resources. Schulz currently serves as secretary of the 2,000-employee Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
The appointment, which will require state senate confirmation, comes as Hogan is preparing to begin a second term after being re-elected in November. For Hogan, taking steps to ensure Maryland is “Open for Business” became a centerpiece of his administration.
“Secretary Schulz is a strong advocate for Maryland’s job creators, and has a proven track record of working directly with our business community to create jobs, enhance economic growth and expand opportunity for both businesses and workers,” Hogan said in a statement. “I know that Kelly will be instrumental in ensuring that we build on our incredible progress.”
Under Schulz, Hogan’s office said the state’s apprenticeship program grew to have more than 10,000 apprentices. The EARN Maryland workforce development program, which provides training and establishes partnerships with private companies, also saw participation rise as funding increased.
“Business leaders’ number one concern is ensuring they have access to a talented workforce, and I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve been able to do thanks to Governor Hogan’s leadership to prepare Maryland workers for 21st century jobs,” Schulz said in a statement. “Having a leader at Commerce who understands workforce needs will help us grow our private sector and continue to foster an environment where businesses thrive and create even more jobs.
Prior to joining Hogan’s administration, Schulz previously served as a state delegate representing Frederick County. James E. Rzepkowski, a former delegate and workforce development director at Constellation, will step up from assistant secretary to acting secretary at DLLR.
Bringing experience leading IT and wireless companies as well as investment firms, Gill served as chairman of Evergreen Advisors prior to being appointed by Hogan at the beginning of the Republican’s first term in 2015.
After he assumed leadership, the administration soon changed the name of the agency to Department of Commerce from the Department of Business and Economic Development. Gill became a familiar face at tech community events, sounding an enthusiastic note at gatherings like TEDCO’s innovation expos, Startup Global at Baltimore Innovation Week 2018 or a recent intro to Howard County’s incubator in Columbia. Hogan said Gill was also key in implementing the manufacturing-focused More Jobs for Marylanders Act and playing a lead role in international trade missions to the Europe and Israel. Hogan thanked Gill for “distinguished service,” saying he “played a pivotal role in transforming Maryland’s economy.”
“The last four years have been the most exciting and rewarding four years that anyone could have,” Gill said in a statement. “We have an unbelievable team of people at Commerce, incredible assets in the state, and a business-friendly culture under Governor Hogan’s leadership. Kelly and I have developed a great relationship serving together in the cabinet, and she will be outstanding in this new role.”
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