M&T Bank Corp. chairman and CEO Robert Wilmers was named to lead Empire State Development Corp., in an overhaul of the stateâ€™s economic development efforts announced by Gov. David Paterson here on Thursday.
In addition, Daniel Gundersen, hired by disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer as the first upstate chairman of the Empire State Development Corp., has resigned, Paterson said.
Gundersen, head of the upstate office in Buffalo, has been praised by business and economic development leaders for bringing a greater focus to issues affecting the upstate business climate.
Gundersenâ€™s future has been in question in recent weeks after Paterson announced his dissatisfaction with the two-pronged ESDC set-up initiated by Spitzer.
The agencyâ€™s downstate chairman, Patrick Foye, announced in March that he would resign, shortly after Spitzer left office in the wake a call-girl scandal.
Gunderson praised Paterson for including $700 million in this yearâ€™s budget for upstate economic development initiatives.
â€œIt has been a privilege to serve first under Gov. Spitzer and then under Gov. Paterson,â€ Gunderson said in a statement issued by Patersonâ€™s office. â€œAs I have said before, I agree completely with Gov. 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 downstate.
â€œThe creation of an upstate ESDC office will help to ensure that upstate remains a priority, and I applaud Gov. Patersonâ€™s support for adding new resources to the Buffalo office to enable that office to manage upstate deals from end to end.â€
The Unshackle Upstate Coalition quickly praised the selection of Wilmers, a longtime coalition supporter.
“(He is) a passionate advocate for upstate and the New York business community as a whole, has the expertise and experience to change, for the better, the path of economic development in New York State,” the group said in a statement.
“Wilmersâ€™ appointment demonstrates Gov. Patersonâ€™s willingness to back his support of upstate with substantive action. The coalition thanks the governor for his pledge to headquarter ESD in upstate and increase staff to maintain the focus on the region.”
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