Yet Another ESDC Principal Out: Upstate Chair Gundersen Resigns [UPDATED]

The upstate chairman of the state’s major development agency has resigned, Governor Paterson’s office announced this afternoon. Taken with the resignations of downstate chairman Pat Foye and downstate president Avi Schick in March and May, respectively, the Empire State Development Corporation has lost its top three officials with no new leader yet announced.

Unclear to us, for now, is whether the departure of Dan Gundersen, the upstate chairman, was his choice or that of Mr. Paterson. Mr. Paterson said in early May that he was planning to reverse the Spitzer administration and consolidate ESDC to only have one chairman (i.e. Mr. Gundersen would suddenly have a new boss, assuming that the one chairman wasn’t him). The structure was criticized as the three leaders frequently clashed. 

Mr. Gundersen then angered top officials in the Paterson administration a few days later when upstate business leaders publicly opposed that plan, according to people familiar with officials’ discussions, as the administration believed Mr. Gundersen helped organize the opposition.

Release from the Governor’s office below.

Governor Praises Gundersen for his Efforts to Revitalize the Upstate Economy

Dan Gundersen has resigned as the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and as the Chairman of Upstate ESDC, Governor David A. Paterson announced today.

In accepting Mr. Gundersen’s resignation, Governor Paterson said: “Dan Gundersen has done a great job in focusing the State’s efforts on revitalizing the Upstate economy. He logged more than 55,000 miles becoming familiar with the needs of Upstate cities and towns, as well as the businesses located there. He also created the Upstate headquarters of ESDC in Buffalo, putting in place a first-rate staff both in Buffalo and in Upstate’s seven regional offices.

The Regional Blueprint process that Dan spearheaded last year created a roadmap for Upstate economic development that will be followed for many years to come. Dan also played a pivotal role in designing the $700 million Upstate Revitalization Plan included in this year’s budget, which will help turn that vision into a reality.

Under Dan’s leadership, Upstate ESDC attracted 12,963 job commitments and retained more than 30,400 jobs. Among the signature deals completed during Dan’s tenure were GE Wind Energy, Bitzer Scroll, Carestream, Pactiv, Nova Bus, Sitel, Schweizer Aircraft, Remington Arms, Corning, Globe, Alcoa and Welch Allyn. In his role as the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, Dan was instrumental in statewide efforts to increase international trade for New York State businesses, and bring greater accountability to programs such as Empire Zones.

“I want to thank Dan for playing an instrumental role in building the foundation for a more engaged and responsive economic development effort in Upstate New York,” said Governor Paterson. “I also want to thank him for assisting in a smooth transition to new leadership at ESDC under a unified statewide organizational structure.”

Dan Gundersen said: “I want to thank Governor Paterson for his leadership in working to revitalize the Upstate economy by providing $700 million in this year’s budget for new programs. It has been a privilege to serve first under Governor Spitzer and then under Governor Paterson. As I have said before, I agree completely with Governor Paterson that New York needs to be unified to compete in the world today. Having an organizational structure for ESDC that makes sense is the most effective way to ensure the greatest level of success for both Upstate and Downstate. The creation of an Upstate ESDC office will help to ensure that Upstate remains a priority, and I applaud Governor Paterson’s support for adding new resources to the Buffalo office to enable that office to manage Upstate deals from end-to-end.”


Yet Another ESDC Principal Out: Upstate Chair Gundersen Resigns [UPDATED]