DEED Commissioner Steve Grove leaving to be Star Tribune publisher, CEO

One of Gov. Tim Walz’s cabinet members is leaving his position to become the publisher and chief executive officer of the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune and Walz’s office each announced Tuesday morning that Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove is making the transition to the state’s largest newspaper.

Grove, 45, has led DEED since his appointment by Walz at the start of 2019, helping to guide the department through the COVID-19 pandemic when unemployment insurance benefits became a central focus of many due to mass layoffs. He’s also made several public appearances at local small businesses to tout the state’s work to help businesses reopen after the pandemic.

“It’s been an honor to be Minnesota’s Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development for the last four years, and I’m grateful to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan for the opportunity to serve in the best job I’ve ever had,” Grove said in a statement. “Minnesota’s economy is rich with a nationally renowned workforce and an entrepreneurial business community that has brought so much opportunity to our state. The people and businesses I’ve worked with in my time as Commissioner give me great confidence in the future of Minnesota. I know that under Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s leadership, the best days of Minnesota are ahead – and that DEED will continue to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone.”

“Commissioner Grove has truly exemplified what it means to be a public servant and advocate for the state of Minnesota,” Walz said. “He led Minnesota’s workers and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, made Minnesota’s economy one of the strongest in the country, and promoted Minnesota as a player on the global stage. Commissioner Grove has been key in growing Minnesota’s strong, vibrant, and diverse economy. Through his work with the Council on Economic Expansion, he has created a roadmap to guide the state’s work for years to come. Commissioner Grove’s leadership and expertise has left a lasting impact on our state.”

Before joining DEED, the Northfield native was the founding director of Google News Lab and created YouTube’s first news and politics team.

The Star Tribune says his digital focus will be important in driving digital subscriptions and increasing advertising as the newspaper deals with fewer print subscribers.

He’ll take over in April for Mike Klingensmith, who is retiring and has led the Star Tribune since 2010. Grove’s last day leading DEED will be March 2, according to the governor’s office.

The Star Tribune employs around 700 people, including 230 in its newsroom, the company says. It adds that it has about 100,000 digital subscribers, about as many as it has print subscribers, although it remains one of the more successful newspapers in the country, with its Sunday circulation ranking as the fourth-largest among metro papers.

However, Grove told the Star Tribune he expects changes quickly.

“I think the next 10 years are going to be a lot more disruptive than the last 10, and I will come at this from a perspective of excitement, thoughtfulness and a little bit of urgency,” Grove said. That includes gaining far more digital subscribers, he added.