Glenn Youngkin from Virginia, United States via Wikimedia Commons

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has selected Caren Merrick — presently the CEO of Youngkin’s Virginia Ready Fund and a former candidate for State Senate in 2011 against Democrat Barbara Favola (D-Fairfax) — as his new Secretary of Commerce and Trade, one of the more heavy-hitting appointments that will have a direct hand in Virginia’s economic renaissance.

Merrick’s pedigree is not exclusively small business oriented, but rather leadership oriented — a key difference with a specific focus on building up women entrepreneurs and workforce development rather than merely running up numbers.  Merrick had previously served on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority under Governor Bob McDonnell.

Merrick’s role as a philanthropist after a successful IPO in the mid-1990s establishers her as yet another top-level appointment after the announcement of Aimee Guideria for Secretary of Education — two solid picks denoting a more national-oriented professionalism as opposed to Richmond-oriented relationships and a sign that Youngkin is intent on a ministry of all-talents and not a team of rivals.

From the Youngkin press release:

“Virginia’s jobs machine has stalled out, and Caren is going to play a pivotal role on the team that will jumpstart our economy and reinvigorate job growth here in the Commonwealth,” said Governor-elect Youngkin. “Caren is an innovator, a business builder, and a true leader in workforce development—the kind of experience needed to develop talent, train workers, attract investment, and make Virginia the best state to start a business as we set out to add 400,000 jobs and launch 10,000 startups.” 

One item of note?  Merrick has been involved in the past with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) — a key and missing part in Virginia’s economic renaissance when it comes to implementing both the Hope and A+ Scholarship initiatives that have been so successful elsewhere in the nation, and especially if linked to microfinance initiatives which will create future entrepreneurs and successful small businesses.

Caren Merrick is perhaps the most surprising and outstanding pick so far in the new Youngkin administration.  This will be two cabinet appointments from among those who are successful in private industry, who are not infected by politics, and who have a deep prior philanthropic commitment to their respective portfolios — a terribly good sign.

Youngkin is expected to roll out more appointments to the cabinet over the course of the next three weeks leading up to the inauguration on 15 January.