LANSING (AP) – A state Senate committee yesterday unanimously confirmed Lansing Mayor David Hollister as the head of a new state department that will oversee labor and economic issues.

A few members of the Republican-controlled committee praised Hollister for spurring economic development in Lansing by helping bring two new General Motors Corp. plants to the city.

“I think this is an excellent and superb appointment,” Sen. Ken Sikkema, a Wyoming Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, said before the committee’s vote.

Sikkema said he will recommend the full Senate confirm Hollister when the chamber meets next week.

Hollister, 60, was the first of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s appointments to have a confirmation hearing.

“I felt good about the whole process,” Hollister said after the 90-minute hearing. “It was very civil, very collegial.”

Hollister said he plans to bring the lessons he learned as a mayor and a state representative to his new job. He was first elected mayor of Lansing in 1993 after serving in the state House since 1975.

He will be in charge of a department that combines the Department of Consumer & Industry Services, much of the Department of Career Development and agencies tied to economic development such as the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Hollister, who currently serves on the MEDC board, said he doesn’t plan to make drastic changes immediately.

“I don’t see us dismantling any of the (former Gov. John) Engler tax incentives,” Hollister said. “I’m in no hurry to reconfigure the department.”

The new department will continue to improve the state’s system for distributing unemployment benefits, Hollister said.

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