Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday he will nominate his chief of staff to lead the city's planning and development agency.

The appointment of Jeremy Hanson Willis to run the department of Community Planning and Economic Development is significant, since the agency has a hand in all construction projects within city limits.

Hanson Willis joined the mayor's office as a press secretary in 2005, later rising to the top job in 2009. In recent months, he has become an active behind-the-scenes player in Vikings stadium negotiations.

Before arriving at City Hall, Hanson Willis worked at Tunheim Partners and as a public policy director at the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition.

CPED's role is most prominent when they handle multi-million dollar public investment projects, but staffers also regularly advise city officials on zoning and land use questions. CPED's former leader, Mike Christenson, left the city on Jan. 1 to run a college access program.

Rybak said Hanson Willis has been the mayor's primary connection with CPED during his time as chief of staff.

“Jeremy is equal parts problem solver and relationship builder. He is the right person to lead this critically important department to even greater accomplishments,” Rybak said.

Hanson Willis' permanent appointment -- following his interim appointment -- will eventually need approval from the full City Council.

Council Member Lisa Goodman, who leads the city's development committee, offered praise in a statement Tuesday.

“I have confidence in his ability to lead this complex department and appreciate his passion for community -- and economic -- development issues.”