Upstate Wins in the NYS Development Shuffle

It's been a almost a year now since a newly crowned Governor Paterson — speaking to a handful of reporters

It's been a almost a year now since a newly crowned Governor Paterson — speaking to a handful of reporters tailing him after a Sunday speaking engagement — casually mentioned that he would reorganize the state's main development agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, abolishing the controversial upstate-downstate split among its leaders.

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Now, half a year after new CEO Marisa Lago was installed, she is announcing a reorganization, and a brief look at the memo and organizational chart that went out suggests power is shifting upstate. The upstate president, Dennis Mullen, will take over management of key programs and initiatives that dole out millions in incentives: Tourism and the I Love New York campaign, the Empire Zones program that aims to give businesses money in exchange for job creation, and the Governors Office of Motion Picture & Television. Formerly, those responsibilities were split between the upstate and downstate agency leaders.

In the box on the organizational chart for the downstate president, Mullen's counterpart, there is only a 'TBD,' as ESDC has yet to name someone to that post despite first announcing months ago that a search was underway. That position will oversee real estate, construction, and New York City-based subsidiares, according to the reorganization chart.

The ESDC was one of the more high-profile agencies in the Pataki and Spitzer administrations, taking the lead on multi-billion dollar mega-projects such as the redevelopment and expansion of Penn Station and the expansion of the Javits Center. But the cash-strapped Paterson administration has not made the agency as high-profile a player, particularly downstate. The agency's chairman, M&T Bank chief Bob Wilmers, has long been a critic of what he viewed as the state's lack of dedication to economic development upstate, and presumably has been pushing greater commitment to those efforts. Full memo below.





TO:                 ESD Colleagues


FROM:           Marisa Lago


DATE:            February 27, 2009


RE:                 ESD Organizational Announcements


I am pleased to make the following organizational announcements.  While I expect additional changes over the weeks and months ahead, these present changes will allow Empire State Development to continue to meet the needs of New York’s businesses and residents while working within the current budget environment.


The following individuals comprise ESD’s Executive Team, and are responsible for overseeing all DED and ESDC activities statewide:


Dennis Mullen, Upstate President

Dennis’ role as ESD Upstate President will now include oversight of the Regional Offices, the new Business Development Department (see below), Tourism/I LOVE NEW YORK, the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television, and several specialized economic development programs, including Empire Zones.  In addition, the following ESD subsidiaries will report to Dennis:


§       Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation,

§       USA Niagara Development Corporation, and

§       Harriman Research Campus Development Corporation.


Frances Walton, Chief Financial Officer

Frances will act as statewide CFO, maintaining her current portfolio overseeing the financial operations of ESDC.  Frances will also assume responsibility for Loans & Grants and the DED Office of Fiscal Management.


Anita Laremont, General Counsel

Anita will act as ESD’s statewide General Counsel, overseeing the counsels offices of both DED and ESDC.





Darren Bloch, Executive Vice President of Strategy, Policy & Public Affairs

Darren will coordinate the activities of the Executive Team while overseeing a new group consisting of policy, public affairs, and intergovernmental, legislative and community affairs.


Sam Natapoff, Senior Vice President of International Economic Development

Sam will manage the International Division, overseeing ESD’s international economic development programs and overseas offices.


In addition, the following individuals are assuming expanded roles:


Judith Garner, Senior Vice President of Business Development

Judith will lead a newly created Business Development Department.  The new department will be formed through the merger of the current Strategic Business Division and the downstate Business Development Division.  Working closely with the Regional Offices, the state-wide Business Development Division will focus on growing New York’s leading industry clusters.


Ken Schoetz, Senior Vice President of Regional Offices

Ken will oversee regional offices throughout the state. 


Kevin Younis, Vice President of Intergovernmental Affairs

Kevin will manage ESD’s intergovernmental/legislative affairs activities while also being responsible, on an interim basis, for the overall operation of ESD’s Albany office.


Kristen Mucitelli-Heath, Vice President of Strategy and Planning

Kristen will oversee the formulation of ESD’s strategy and planning, and continue serving as a senior advisor to the Upstate President.


I look forward to announcing a new Downstate President and Chief Administrative Officer in the near future. 


Please join me in congratulating Dennis, Frances, Anita, Darren, Sam, Judith, Ken, Kevin and Kristen on their expanded roles.


Thank you.

Upstate Wins in the NYS Development Shuffle