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LANSING, MI-The man who has been leading Michigan’s effort to shed more than $70 million worth of real estate holdings is taking a new job. Former State Sen. Mitch Irwin will be leaving the Michigan Department of Management & Budget to serve as the chief of the state’s Agriculture Department.

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture on Wednesday unanimously appointed Irwin to replace Dan Wyant, who will resign at the end of the month. Wyant plans to return to Cass County, where he will become president and chief operating officer of the Cassopolis-based Edward Lowe Foundation, a private operating foundation that assists entrepreneurs.

The governor said she will name Irwin’s successor before Irwin moves to the Department of Agriculture on Aug. 1. He was appointed as DMB director by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in January 2003. At the time, he wasowner and president of the Irwin Group Ltd., an East Lansing-based business development, investment and consulting firm. He also was the founder of Horizon Energy LLC, which invests in energy production andequities.

In an earlier interview with GlobeSt.com, Irwin said his mission at the DMB was to “shrink state government and make it more efficient.” A key goal in that has been to review every one of the state’s leases in private buildings, to consolidate office building use and to sell more than a dozen parcels, ranging from office buildings in downtown Detroit to old, shuttered psychiatric hospitals in southeast Michigan.

“As our director at the Department of Management and Budget, Mitch excelled at saving dollars and improving service for our citizens,” Granholm said in a statement. “I’m certain he’ll use that same zeal for making government more effective to both protect our food supply and grow our agriculture industry.”

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