Ending an 11-year career at the Cabinet for Economic Development, Erik Dunnigan will step down as Commissioner of the Department for Business Development at the end of November, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today.
Dunnigan has accepted a business development opportunity in Lexington within the private sector.
"It is no surprise that an employer from the corporate community has recognized Erik's talents in pursuing business development opportunities," said Gov. Beshear. "Erik has done an outstanding job in his leadership roles within the Cabinet for Economic Development, and I am grateful for his service to our Commonwealth. Even though he is not going far, I know I speak for the entire economic development community that he will be missed."
Dunnigan joined the Cabinet for Economic Development in 2002 as a project manager within the former Department for New Business Development. He went on to become deputy commissioner of a newly merged Department for Business Development in 2009, working to recruit new companies to the state, as well as focusing on the growth and retention of Kentucky's existing industries.
Dunnigan was named commissioner in 2010, since which time the department has successfully launched the Governor's Kentucky Export Initiative, leading to record export levels and a growth rate that is currently the second highest in the country; created the Office of Entrepreneurship, re-energizing and re-focusing the Commonwealth's efforts to create a culture of entrepreneurship; and secured major job and investment opportunities such as those from Ford, Toyota, GM, Hitachi, DHL and UFLEX.
"Erik is a very bright and talented young man and is well respected within both the corporate community and economic development arena," said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. "He has been an invaluable member of our management team and has also become a good friend. We hate to see him go, but we are proud of the work he has done and for the new opportunity he's been given."
The Cabinet's Department for Business Development is responsible for leading the state's business attraction, growth and retention efforts through a variety of services, programs and initiatives. In addition to project management staff, the department is comprised of the Office of Entrepreneurship, Office of Research and Public Affairs, and two international offices based in Germany and Japan.
"It is with mixed emotions that my wife and I have come to this decision, and I will forever be grateful to Gov. Beshear and Secretary Hayes for allowing me the opportunity to serve in this role on behalf of the Commonwealth," Dunnigan said. "Their leadership, mentoring and friendship have been invaluable. For years I have spoken to companies about the benefits of doing business in Kentucky, and the time has come for me to illustrate those benefits personally in the private sector. I would also like to thank former Secretary Gene Strong and former Commissioner Jim Navolio for starting me on this path over 11 years ago, and as my departure approaches I will leave knowing we have an exemplary team in place to maintain the successful momentum we've created."
Information on Kentucky's economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet's "This is My Kentucky" video on YouTube.