Wilmers Exits ESDC as State Development Agency Turmoil Continues

The Senate has been monopolizing the chaos in Albany of late, but the Paterson administration has its own problems as well. The chairman of the state’s main development arm, Bob Wilmers, is resigning after a year in the post, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

The departure from the development agency, Empire State Development Corporation, gives Governor Paterson yet another vacant slot to fill in an administration that has been marked by turnover lately. It also adds to the tumult at ESDC, which oversees billions in subsidies and private development projects in the state, as its CEO, Marisa Lago, jumped ship on June 5. 

The reasons for Mr. Wilmers’ departure are unclear, for now, though there was rancor between him and Ms. Lago. That, in turn, caused some officials and executives in New York City to be frustrated with the Buffalo-based banking executive, who has long advocated for more attention to upstate New York. The agency has been the subject of much criticism lately as it doesn’t seem to have a defined role amid the economic downturn, particularly downstate, and its leaders do not seem especially close to the governor, as previous leaders have been. Thus the implications of his departure may not be all that significant at this point.

The Buffalo News got the Wilmers story first, which has been kicking around the rumor mills since mid-May.

Update 5:55 p.m.

The governor’s office just put out the release, officially announcing his resignation. The governor is proposing that Dennis Mullen, the new CEO who, until last week, was the agency’s upstate president, become the chairman as well. This would reconsolidate power in one individual, as it was bifurcated by Governor Spitzer between upstate and downstate, and again by Governor Paterson between a chair and a CEO. The consolidation requires approval of the legislature. 

Wilmers Exits ESDC as State Development Agency Turmoil Continues