Reversing Spitzer, Paterson Wants One Chief for State Development Agency

Some changes don’t last long.

Reversing a structure that former Governor Eliot Spitzer put in place last year, Governor Paterson wants to reunite the state’s development agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, under one chairperson, ending a 17-month experiment with two chairmen on equal footing—one upstate, one downstate.

“We had come to the conclusion in our discussions that the bifurcated system—taking economic development and dividing it up between two people around the state—that it wasn’t working,” he told reporters yesterday. “I’m sure one person can be sensitive to the issues all around the state.”

[Reporting courtesy of The Observer’s Azi Paybarah, who tailed Mr. Paterson yesterday with a video camera in hand. See the video here.]

Mr. Spitzer split up the agency as a way of addressing concerns that economic development programs downstate had received priority over the struggling upstate economy under the Pataki administration. Mr. Spitzer gave the first ‘State of Upstate’ address earlier this year, and went on a city-by-city tour announcing public funds for economic development projects throughout upstate.

The structure was viewed by many who dealt with ESDC as confusing and prone to infighting.

The question remains of just who that chairperson will be, as a group of mostly big business CEOs is in the midst of a search.