If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on in today’s sharply divided political climate, it’s the need for sustained economic growth. Americans are grappling with soaring inflation, and central bankers are ratcheting up interest rates to curtail rising prices – while hoping to avoid a recession as a result. Meanwhile, pocketbook issues that eroded support for the party in power in Washington were a key factor on Election Day.
Indeed, there’s plenty of debate about how to go about boosting economic growth. Should governments subsidize sectors like green energy, life sciences or technology – and can manufacturing make a comeback in a globalized economy that has struggled through a pandemic and war in recent years? What investments should be made to the state’s infrastructure – from public transit to high-speed broadband – and in the state’s workforce? Can city and state officials do more to cut red tape?
City & State’s Economic Development Power 100 identifies the top government officials, CEOs, heads of business groups and trade associations, advocates of small businesses and minority- and women-owned enterprises, and many other individuals who are aiming to answer these questions as they seek to drive job creation all across New York.
From the tip of Long Island to the far reaches of the North Country, Hope Knight is boosting New York’s economy through a wide range of new projects and investments. As the head of Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, she has been involved in launching a new program to train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, delivering grants to small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and building manufacturing plants in Western New York. Knight, who came on last year after leading the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., has also been a staunch supporter of the governor’s Penn Station development plan and joined President Joe Biden, Gov. Kathy Hochul and others in welcoming Micron to central New York, where the company has pledged to build a major chip manufacturing facility.
Since landing the top post at the New York City Economic Development Corp. this year, Andrew Kimball has been working to get the economy back on track across the five boroughs. A focus on the life sciences and biotech industries has been one piece of Kimball’s work: He supported a new $1.6 billion development for a life sciences and education hub in Kips Bay, Manhattan, and invested $27 million to create new facilities for life sciences startups and research. Kimball, who took on the role this year after leading Industry City, has also been facilitating the agency’s push to promote clean energy jobs and a green economy.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has put an emphasis on improving the city’s economic well-being – and he has tasked Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer with making it happen. Her bona fides are clear, given the City Hall veteran’s experience leading the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and city Economic Development Corp. Now, she’s leveraging her expertise to help City Hall get ahead on the mayor’s priorities, like speeding up land use application timelines for development projects.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has close ties to the business world. That means Kathryn Wylde often has his ear on issues pressing to the city’s CEOs, represented by the Partnership for New York City. One lingering post-pandemic priority has been getting workers back into offices, a challenge Wylde said has been exacerbated by commuters’ fear of crime. The organization paired up with City Hall this summer to launch an initiative to more quickly connect homeless New Yorkers with shelter and treatment programs.
John C. Williams transitioned from leading San Francisco’s Federal Reserve Bank to New York City in 2018, making him a seasoned central banker at a critical time as the Fed tries to navigate an elusive soft landing. Given the dramatic rise of inflation across the country, Williams’ top focus has been on tackling the dreaded economic trend while minimizing the risk of a recession. Williams said in November that the principal role of central banking was to maintain well-anchored expectations. Another recent initiative of New York’s Federal Reserve has been to explore ways to promote economic prosperity in rural areas.
Heather Briccetti Mulligan brought home several legislative victories this year for businesses across the state. The head of The Business Council of New York State praised Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing legislation to bring more semiconductor manufacturing to New York and a package of bills relating to minority- and women-owned business enterprises. That helped Mulligan stay in the governor’s corner for the election, as the association’s business arm endorsed her in October.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s role in New York’s economic well-being can’t be understated. The MTA is not only responsible for moving millions of New Yorkers each day, but also doles out billions of dollars in contracts for the construction and development needed to keep the transit system moving. Janno Lieber has been occupied with myriad challenges as head of the authority, such as evaluating congestion pricing’s implementation and fixing the MTA’s financial problems.
While New York City’s businesses have weathered the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, plenty of challenges remain in 2022. Randy Peers has ensured the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce continues to be a resource for businesses still struggling with inflation and other hardships. That included issuing nearly $600,000 in microloans to businesses and connecting business owners with financing elsewhere. Recently the Brooklyn borough president gave $20,000 to the chamber to help businesses in southeast Brooklyn, where support from the chamber is crucial.
Kevin D. Kim is a former small-business entrepreneur and the son of immigrant small-business owners. Today he helps other New York City entrepreneurs get connected to needed resources as commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. Kim played a key role launching a new initiative to help New Yorkers access cannabis retail licenses. The first phase of the initiative involves making sure that people who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses receive guidance in applying for those licenses.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez has been a key voice on legislation affecting small businesses across the country. As chair of the House Committee on Small Business – a role she’s set to relinquish once Republicans assume control of the House of Representatives – Velázquez has helped craft and oversee relief programs for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. She pushed for a bill signed into law in August to combat fraud in those programs and worked to secure additional federal funding for small businesses continuing to struggle with pandemic-related losses.
Jamie Dimon is among the most influential business leaders in New York, having the ear of elected officials on economic and policy priorities in the region. He joined other prominent financiers and business owners in praising New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ anti-gun violence plan in June and worked with the administration on a new private sector apprenticeship program for public school students. Dimon also doubled down on a push to bring workers back to the office, announcing in April a new global headquarters in Midtown.
The City University of New York prides itself on propelling students into the middle class, from its founding as a free public university in the 19th century to the network of institutions educating nearly a quarter million scholars today. CUNY recently launched the Science Park and Research Campus in Kips Bay, Manhattan, an innovation hub to connect public school students with science and health jobs, under the leadership of Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. The chancellor also has launched initiatives for students facing financial hardship, including the CUNY Comeback program that erased over $100 million in owed tuition for more than 57,000 students.
Tourism has made a successful rebound in New York City, a vital reprieve for the many businesses that rely heavily on visitors from beyond the five boroughs. NYC & Company, the official organization for boosting tourism, projected that 56.7 million travelers will have visited the city by the end of 2022, a number nearing pre-pandemic levels. Fred Dixon has been hard at work to make sure that trend continues, even as inflation might put a damper on travel.
As one of the most powerful women in the financial sector, Adena T. Friedman has spent nearly 20 years at Nasdaq, rising in the ranks to become its president in 2014. While running the Manhattan-based global securities exchange with nearly 4,000 companies listed, Friedman has continued to build on Nasdaq’s innovative history as the first electronic stock market exchange. She’s also a Class B director at the New York Federal Reserve.
State Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assembly Member Harry Bronson lead their respective legislative bodies’ committees focused on growing the state’s economy. Kaplan, a Long Island Democrat who lost her reelection bid, pushed for several proposals in the past year aimed at helping small businesses access resources and eliminating red tape. Bronson, a Rochester Democrat, got legislation passed to expand protections for freelance workers across New York.
Construction is booming in New York again, which is welcome news for Gary LaBarbera and the 200,000 tradespeople he represents. LaBarbera has been hard at work ensuring workers and unions benefit from that resurgence. The labor leader has also been focused on promoting climate-friendly projects to foster both sustainability and job creation, urging New York officials to more proactively respond to climate change in tandem with workers.
Amazon may have pulled out of placing a headquarters in Queens years ago, but that hasn’t stopped Thomas Grech from courting the tech industry to the borough. Under his leadership, the Queens Chamber of Commerce launched a group in 2021 to provide support to burgeoning tech startups, helping connect entrepreneurs to workspace and other resources. Tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are among the members of that initiative, along with smaller local businesses.
Ensuring Long Island’s economic well-being is a priority for Matthew Cohen. As head of the region’s influential business association, Cohen has spent the past year monitoring major transit and infrastructure projects, and he has been working to nurture blooming industries on Long Island – including working with everyone from offshore wind developers to entrepreneurs interested in obtaining cannabis licenses. In the spring, Cohen joined other local leaders in opposing the governor’s proposal to make new buildings all electric by 2027.
As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough for New York City restaurants, inflation and employee shortages have made it even tougher for the hospitality industry. Through all those challenges, Andrew Rigie has been advocating for restaurants’ needs to New York’s elected officials. Among his biggest priorities has been making sure restaurants can continue to take advantage of outdoor open space for dining to boost local businesses and the economy.
This power duo is meticulously organizing the long-awaited rollout of recreational marijuana across the state by preparing to dole out licenses to sellers and creating the state’s regulations – which Wright hopes to have finalized by the end of the year. Appointed to their roles by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Tremaine Wright served as an Assembly member before her appointment as New York’s cannabis czar, and Christopher Alexander served as an associate counsel for the state Senate before taking on his role leading the Office of Cannabis Management.
New York’s gambling industry has an exciting year ahead. The downstate region has three full-scale casino licenses on the table, fueling a frenzy of proposals in the New York City metropolitan area. As chair of the New York Gaming Association, Taryn Duffy will be monitoring that and other developments in store for racing and casino venues across the state. What’s more, Duffy serves as a vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts Northeast Group – whose Empire City Casino in Yonkers is a strong contender to win one of the lucrative commercial licenses in downstate New York.
Arvind Krishna’s 30 years at IBM prepared him to lead the company, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit just before his April 2020 takeover as CEO, he was forced to navigate uncharted waters. This year, the company, which saw a 15% bump in revenue, is thriving in New York, moving its Manhattan offices into the lavish new One Madison Avenue and announcing a $20 billion plan to expand semiconductor manufacturing in the Hudson Valley. In May, Krishna was elected as a Class B director for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and belongs to the New York Jobs CEO Council.
Working to strengthen local infrastructure and build a community, Marsha Gordon has been president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester since 2001, where membership has tripled during her tenure. She was also the president of Build the Bridge Now, which helped expedite the construction of the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge. Under her leadership, the Business Council of Westchester recently partnered on a sustainability project to help affordable housing residents in Yonkers who have suffered from climate change-related heat and flooding.
Born and raised in the Bronx and having worked for a number of New York City and state politicians, Marlene Cintron has deep city roots and a firsthand understanding of how small businesses underpin New York’s economy. Cintron was appointed to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region II a year ago and has used the post to bolster minority- and veteran-owned small businesses in her region, which covers New York and New Jersey as well as Puerto Rico. Cintron previously led the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.
Having led the Manufacturers Association of Central New York for the past two decades, Randy Wolken has long worked to elevate the state’s business sector and has a keen eye as to where it will head next. He said high-tech companies in Central New York will flourish – given the recent passage of the $52 billion federal CHIPS Act to encourage semiconductor production – and the future for manufacturing appears bright. Wolken has also served as co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council since 2018.
While overall construction has made a resurgence in New York City, Carlo Scissura has urged New York’s leaders to get housing construction up to speed. The New York Building Congress found that the housing supply currently being built won’t meet demand, prompting the influential association to call for a more streamlined process for constructing residential buildings. Scissura’s recommendations include replacing the now-expired 421-a tax break for constructing affordable housing and simplifying the land use review process.
Louis Coletti has been busy helping contractors through the pandemic and the myriad challenges that the construction industry faces. That means the industry leader is often communicating with lawmakers in Albany, recently advocating for the governor to delay implementing a bill increasing fines for construction worker deaths. Coletti also joined a new task force convened by New York City Mayor Eric Adams this year aimed at streamlining New York City’s capital project process to get large-scale projects done faster and cheaper.
Robert Duffy has been focused on ensuring the Finger Lakes region thrives. One priority for the business leader: retaining talented workers. The head of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce has cheered on measures to keep workers in the area, such as Monroe County’s new grant program for local college graduates. Duffy has also praised Micron’s investment in microchip plants in upstate New York, which he expects will bring new jobs to the Rochester area.
When New York’s gubernatorial candidates were on the campaign trail, Dottie Gallagher was making sure businesses’ concerns were on their agenda. The head of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership outlined several priorities for Western New York business leaders, such as ensuring the pace of the state’s climate goals are realistic and limiting state surcharges on unemployment insurance. Her economic development organization remains responsive to challenges local businesses face, such as finding and retaining qualified workers.
Tens of millions of customers across New York and the rest of the country depend on Charter’s cable, broadband and other services. Camille Joseph-Goldman works to make sure the telecommunications giant works with lawmakers to get what it needs to operate successfully in New York and beyond. Joseph-Goldman is responsible for managing the company’s government affairs, partnerships, investments and regulatory issues in the region. The former New York City deputy comptroller for public affairs’ work is bolstered by her extensive background in public service.
Chinatown has faced numerous challenges in recent years, from the pandemic to population loss and anti-Asian hate. Wellington Chen has been hard at work ensuring the neighborhood stays resilient in the face of those obstacles, helping small businesses remain afloat. In the past year, the leader of the Chinatown Partnership local development corporation praised the Open Streets program for allowing local restaurants to draw in more customers and promoted a funding stream for local organizations seeking to start construction projects in the neighborhood.
Kevin Law has an extensive background in addressing New York’s economic needs. He spent more than a decade leading Long Island’s premier business association, helping secure funds for transit, infrastructure and capital projects across the region. Now, Law lends his expertise to Tritec Real Estate Co., in addition to serving as board chair of Empire State Development. That allows Law to influence the state development arm’s decisions to award tax credits and grants to companies across New York.
Margaret Anadu was the youngest Black female partner in Goldman Sachs’ history. She spent nearly 20 years there, leading investment initiatives for underserved communities and minority-owned businesses as well as helming the firm’s $2 billion pandemic relief effort for small businesses. In July, she took her expertise to The Vistria Group, a private investment firm focused on social change, where she now leads investments in real estate efforts. Earlier in the year, she became the chair of the board of directors of the New York City Economic Development Corp.
Jose Ortiz Jr. brings a wealth of experience to the role as senior adviser to New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. He spent the previous three years as CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, the biggest city-based workforce development industry membership association in the U.S. Before that, Ortiz worked at the Queens nonprofit Pursuit and at 92NY.
Plans for the Penn Station area build-out are being halted, at least for now, as real estate titan Steven Roth forecasts a tough year for large-scale developments. The potential delay could throw a wrench in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s redevelopment plans. The controversial proposal for 18 million square feet of new buildings would erect towers to create revenue that would fund a new Penn Station, but in a predictably choppy market, Roth isn’t taking any risks.
After holding several leadership positions across Citi’s businesses, Jane Fraser assumed the position as the bank’s first female CEO last year, navigating the pandemic while launching a multiyear process of overhauling the bank. As Fraser works to modernize the firm’s infrastructure and advance its regulations and technology investments, she is also making efforts to improve work-life balance for her employees and making banking easier for low-income Americans.
Labeled a “visionary leader” by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, William Floyd over the past year has worked to promote health equity, pandemic recovery efforts as well as inclusive, strong New York City business districts as a member of the city’s health equity task force and “New” New York blue-ribbon panel. The New York City Economic Development Corp. board member has also played a role in Google’s expansion in New York.
Jessica Lappin oversees the largest business improvement district in the United States, and the former New York City Council member has fought tooth and nail to bring tourism back, which declined due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lappin was a key advocate for a statewide $450 million tourism recovery package, which Gov. Kathy Hochul touted at the end of last year. Lappin also works to provide public safety, sanitation, homelessness services and public transportation in lower Manhattan, the traditional center of the financial industry that’s a key economic engine – both in New York and nationwide.
Three decades ago, René F. Jones started his career as an executive associate at M&T Bank. Now he’s one of a few Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, overseeing more than 17,000 employees and $200 billion in assets at the financial institution headquartered in Buffalo. Jones once counted as a colleague the future Gov. Kathy Hochul, who came on at M&T as vice president of government relations after her stint in Congress. Jones also serves as a Class A director for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Some of New York City’s hottest recent attractions can be found in and around Hudson Yards, including Bella Abzug Park, managed by the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance – a business improvement district, in which local businesses band together to raise money for a neighborhood’s maintenance and promotion. It’s headed by Robert Benfatto, who also serves as co-chair of the New York City BID Association, a nonprofit that coordinates the efforts of BID leaders all around the city. Benfatto is excited about the Department of Small Business Services’ development grant program, which is slated to establish even more BIDs to spur economic recovery.
North Country residents have confidence in their region’s economic outlook, according to a North Country Chamber of Commerce survey released earlier this year, and that confidence is in part a reflection of Garry Douglas’ long run at the helm of the region’s business organization. During the past year alone, Douglas hailed an initiative that secured 12 federal grants totaling $5.8 million dedicated to local economic and community development projects.
As the leader of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Jessica Walker acts as a voice and advocate for more than 100,000 businesses across a borough that’s home to the financial capital of the world. Over the summer, New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined Walker to announce a $1.5 million investment in the city’s Small Business Resource Network. Walker also holds advisory roles for a number of city and state committees and councils, including Adams’ Commercial Corridor Recovery Task Force and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s New York City Regional Economic Development Council.
Since New York’s tourism industry stumbled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cristyne Nicholas, chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council, has been a vocal advocate pushing for a comeback. Recently, in conjunction with Gov. Kathy Hochul, Nicholas launched a fall campaign aimed at encouraging travelers to bask in New York’s myriad autumnal activities from Montauk to Niagara Falls, including walking through corn mazes and admiring the state’s colorful foliage. The co-founder of Nicholas & Lence Communications once served as communications director for then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
At real estate firm Fisher Brothers, Winston Fisher manages financing, investing and property acquisitions, among other responsibilities. After the pandemic forced so many workers to stay at home, Fisher has been feeling optimistic seeing occupancy in the firm’s office portfolio on the rise. When he isn’t handling matters at Fisher Brothers, Fisher is co-chairing the New York City Regional Economic Development Council. That puts him in the position of helping steer the state’s projects aimed at economic growth within the five boroughs.
Though crime remains at historic lows in New York City, a recent uptick has had city business owners concerned about safety and crime prevention in the past year. That concern has prompted business improvement districts like the East Midtown Partnership, led by Rob Byrnes, to form a new coalition to support elected officials’ policy plans to crack down on crime. But Byrnes had something to celebrate this past year as well, as tourists flocked back to Midtown and more workers headed back to offices.
At the helm of the Partnership for New York City’s massive $180 million investment arm, Maria Gotsch has cultivated a network of venture capital and corporate experts to grow the city’s entrepreneurial sector. Among the initiatives spearheaded by Gotsch in the fintech and commercial life sciences sectors are the FinTech Innovation Lab, New York Digital Health Accelerator, Transit Tech Lab and New York Fashion Tech Lab. Gotsch was also involved in securing $620 million for life sciences job and education hub in Kips Bay, Manhattan.
In the past decade, Rob Speyer has led a global expansion at real estate developer Tishman Speyer, and the company’s assets have doubled to over $65 billion. In 2013, Speyer became the youngest chair of the Real Estate Board of New York, where he served for five years. He’s also the chair of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Real Estate Life Sciences Advisory Board, which is focused on crafting policies designed to strengthen the city’s life sciences ecosystem.
As a long-standing advocate for Chinese American businesses in Flushing, Queens, Peter Tu has been hard at work in the past couple of years. The business leader worked to pump life back into businesses most impacted by the pandemic when the Flushing Chinese Business Association and the Queens Chamber of Commerce worked together to share recovery resources. Recently, Tu fought for the city to remove unlicensed street vendors from downtown Flushing’s Main Street to help decrease congestion and competition for small-business owners.
The Community Preservation Corp. has made strides in expanding affordable housing in New York and beyond. Under Rafael Cestero’s leadership, the nonprofit finance company doled out more than $1 billion in capital for affordable housing and other development projects across the country over the course of a year. Cestero, who previously served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, supported legislation that would allow the New York City Housing Authority to transfer some apartments to a publicly owned trust.
The past year has brought numerous challenges for retailers, including hiring shortages, inflation and concerns about crime. Melissa O’Connor made sure their needs were heard, representing thousands of retailers across New York. O’Connor brought with her to this role 17 years of experience working at the Retail Council of New York State, giving her key insights into local and state policies affecting the retail industry and the know-how to get lawmakers’ support.
While some efforts to spur economic recovery have been slow going, Major League Baseball is knocking it out of the park, with the postseason alone expected to generate at least $93 million ain New York City. Driving part of that effort has been New York Yankees President Randy Levine, whose career has grown at the intersection of government and baseball. The principal founder of regional sports channel YES Network, former New York City labor commissioner and deputy mayor for economic development, planning and administration has more than 20 years as president under his belt.
While in Congress, then-Rep. Antonio Delgado focused on legislation to boost rural economic growth in upstate New York. That experience has informed his work since joining the Executive Chamber in May. As lieutenant governor, Delgado now plays a key role overseeing the work of regional economic development councils across New York, which advise the state on how to strategically invest in each region to create jobs and grow the local economy.
Kassandra Perez-Desir, Verizon’s New York regional director of government affairs and public policy, is one of the forces behind an ongoing expansion of broadband access – which plays a key role in today’s economy. The former Bolton-St. Johns vice president now oversees Verizon’s government affairs, strategic partnerships and community engagement in areas related to consumer protection and telecommunication regulations. As a longtime player in New York’s political sphere, Perez-Desir’s career has also included working on environmental justice for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and immigration initiatives under U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Kyle Kimball is in charge of managing Con Edison’s relationships with policymakers, advising the utility on political issues and overseeing its lobbying efforts in New York City, Albany and Washington, D.C. He brings experience overseeing some of the city’s biggest real estate projects from his time as president of the New York City Economic Development Corp. under the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations. Kimball was also recently appointed to the Panel for Educational Policy by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
A major 2022 victory for Ryan Silva was seeing Gov. Kathy Hochul sign legislation aimed at attracting semiconductor manufacturing. The head of the New York State Economic Development Council pushed for the law, citing its potential to bring new private sector jobs to the Capital Region and upstate New York. Silva has also advocated for other state-level policies to boost construction for high-tech industries and provide emergency loans and grants to industrial development agencies during the pandemic.
Shirley Aldebol represents the influential union 32BJ SEIU on the board of the New York City Economic Development Corp., and it’s a critical responsibility as she’s the only organized labor official helping to oversee the group in an official capacity. Aldebol has led efforts to secure union jobs and secure higher wages and better benefits. Over 8,000 subcontracted service workers at New York and New Jersey airports benefited from Aldebol’s advocacy after she negotiated on their behalf.
For Nick Lugo, founding and running the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is merely the most prominent example of a life spent in small business. The native New Yorker grew up working in his father’s businesses and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Inter American University in Puerto Rico. In addition to his real estate holdings, Lugo is the president of an eponymous travel company and the founder of the Spanish-language newspaper La Voz Hispana.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s tourism and recovery package – a $450 million investment to rehire staff and boost the hospitality and tourism industry – was just one effort Greater New York Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Jaffe got behind in 2021. The chamber serves over 30,000 business and civic leaders, from small businesses and entrepreneurs to major international corporations, advocating on their behalf to improve the business climate in New York. Jaffe also mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge against Rep. Jamaal Bowman this year.
At the reins of Arrow Financial Corp. and its subsidiary Glens Falls National Bank since 2012, Thomas J. Murphy is a longtime leader in providing banking and insurance services to upstate New Yorkers. Murphy recently announced a strong third quarter for the Glen Falls-based company, which included a record $80 million of loan growth. Murphy also serves as a Class A director for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is a founding member of the board of directors of the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition.
The New York City School Construction Authority is responsible for steering major construction dollars to projects across the five boroughs, constructing and renovating public schools. Nina Kubota, who has been with the authority for more than 20 years, oversees that work. In 2022, the authority was expected to complete 12 new buildings and additions, and another seven pre-K centers. Under Kubota’s leadership, the city will also be delivering on a $4 billion plan to complete or convert 100 school buildings to all-electric heating by 2030.
Valerie White took the helm at the community development nonprofit LISC NYC in the early days of the pandemic. Since then, she’s been active in pushing forward New York’s economic recovery through investments in affordable housing, assistance to small businesses and other work. Now, White is steering the organization through an expansion to more rural regions across the state, with a focus on home preservation and workforce development in those areas.
Workforce development has been top of mind for New York City Council Member Amanda Farías. The Bronx lawmaker used to work for the Consortium for Worker Education, where she connected young people in the Bronx to trade jobs, and she ran for office on a policy platform that included a municipal jobs guarantee for every New Yorker. Now as chair of the council’s Committee on Economic Development, Farías has been holding the city accountable in helping New Yorkers find employment.
One of the biggest headlines coming out of Albany during budget season was a $600 million allocation from the state to help fund a new $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Gov. Kathy Hochul argued that the influx of public dollars will keep the NFL team in Buffalo for the next three decades while creating 10,000 union jobs and generating significant economic benefits. For owners Terry and Kim Pegula – who also own the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres – it’s another positive development for a football team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Micron Technology’s $100 billion plan to build a computer chip factory in Central New York is expected to have huge implications for the region. The decision, made by President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, is projected to create nearly 50,000 new jobs. And that massive investment has come with plenty of support, as even President Joe Biden joined U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Kathy Hochul in upstate New York to celebrate the deal with Micron and the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in the area.
In order to better coordinate economic development efforts in Binghamton and Broome County, Stacey Duncan forged a game-changing partnership. In 2019, she took on a dual role leading both the Broome County Industrial Development Authority/Local Development Corp. – branded as The Agency – as well as the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. In her official role as head of the resulting Leadership Alliance – which was not a merger – Duncan has supported the existing local business community in addition to fostering new businesses through member-driven programs and services like the Broome Leadership Institute.
Robert M. Simpson believes in working together to achieve great outcomes. In October, Simpson proved this by teaming up with Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Empire State Development Corp. and other partners to secure a $100 billion investment from Micron Technology, which will create 9,000 direct jobs and 40,000 indirect jobs in Central New York. As president and CEO of CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity, Simpson often partners with affiliates to advance regional economic development by focusing on business expansion and retention.
The past few years have been especially tough for the country’s small and independent business owners, but Ashley Ranslow is going to bat for them. As state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Ranslow drives advocacy, communications and political efforts on behalf of 11,000 small businesses across the state. On her watch, the organization has sought to shore up the state’s unemployment insurance fund and lobbied for tax cuts this past session.
As a founder of the nonprofit manufacturing partnership FuzeHub, Elena Garuc leads the team in providing manufacturing and technology companies with experts, training and other resources to enhance their competitiveness and fuel economic growth. She brings experience from her time as director of communications and marketing for the Center for Economic Growth. Garuc also organized this past New York State Innovation Summit, hosted in part by FuzeHub, where industry leaders, investors and government officials came together in Buffalo to showcase and support emerging technologies.
Clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies seek Andrew Kennedy’s counsel. The lobbyist joined Ostroff Associates in 2020, advising clients seeking government resources and access to state lawmakers and agency officials. Kennedy brings a wealth of experience in economic development, having previously led the Center for Economic Growth. While there, he oversaw programs bolstering businesses and workforce development in the Capital Region.
From her time as director of economic development working to redevelop ground zero after the 9/11 attacks under then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton to lobbying for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, Kara Hughes has been known to act quickly to get businesses back on their feet in times of disaster. Prior to joining O’Donnell & Associates as a senior adviser and head of its New York City practice, Hughes managed strategy for an array of clients at Kasirer. She’s also the principal of her own KEH Consulting.
Earlier this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul nominated John Wang to serve on the Empire State Development board of directors, making him the first Asian American to be nominated to the board. Wang, who founded the Asian American Business Development Center in 1994, has dedicated his career to cultivating a strong economy for Asian-owned businesses and boosting U.S.-China trade. Wang also founded the New York in China Center in 2008 to create a New York business presence in China and attract Chinese investment to New York.
One of Robert Harding’s specialties is helping clients on economic development matters, having cut his chops while serving as deputy mayor for economic development and finance under then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Harding is also dialed in on financing initiatives, legislative counsel and regulatory matters in addition to handling election law cases throughout the state.
As president and CEO of Peapack-Gladstone Bank in northern New Jersey, Douglas L. Kennedy is responsible for leading the bank’s strategic vision of expanding its reach, which recently entailed entering the life insurance premium finance business. In his role, Kennedy also leads the bank’s wealth, lending and deposit lines of business, in addition to its human capital, operations and technology functions. Kennedy also serves as a Class A director for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Melva Miller is the first CEO at the Association for a Better New York, the nonprofit dedicated to bringing leaders from various industries together to collaborate on solutions for a more equitable and economically robust city. Miller previously led the organization’s 2020 census initiative and brings experience as former deputy borough president of Queens, where she created a $153 million revitalization plan for downtown Jamaica and spearheaded the Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan to forge growth for Long Island City and Astoria’s tech ecosystem.
Deborah F. Stanley has been a trailblazer in the state’s higher education system. With nearly 45 years of leadership experience under her belt, Stanley oversees 64 campuses and more than 90,000 employees in her role as SUNY’s interim chancellor. Serving as president of SUNY Oswego for 25 years, she spearheaded a massive renovation and construction plan and oversaw the hiring of 41 full-time faculty members in five years. This year, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a plan to raise SUNY’s profile, in part by transforming Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo into globally recognized research institutions.
Lindsay Greene has a great understanding of economic development. She previously served as chief strategy officer of the New York City Economic Development Corp., working on initiatives for business and job growth throughout the pandemic . In March, Greene became president and CEO of Brooklyn Navy Yard, the first Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to take on the position. She now oversees a facility made up of more than 500 businesses, generating $2.5 billion in economic impact for New York each year.
Thousands of people come to Industry City in Brooklyn each day to work, eat and shop at the Sunset Park waterfront complex. More than 500 companies are housed across the campus’ 16 buildings, alongside more than 50 restaurants and retailers. Alane Berkowitz and Jim Somoza of Jamestown, the real estate management company that owns Industry City, oversee the complex’s operations and leasing, ensuring that one of New York City’s biggest recent economic development successes continues to thrive.
Like so many other business leaders across the state, Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Sorin, the first woman to lead the organization, has been focused on guiding her members through the COVID-19 era. But her influence extends far beyond the borough, including serving on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as a member of the New York City COVID-19 Recovery Roundtable and Health Equity Task Force, and as a member of the New York City Districting Commission.
Lourdes Zapata has spent the vast majority of her professional life at the intersection of commerce and community. She is the first woman – and first Latina – to lead this economic development nonprofit headquartered in the Bronx, where she and her team focus on improving housing, economic opportunities, education and more. Zapata was previously the state’s chief diversity officer and the executive vice president of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development.
Lloyd Williams’ roots in Harlem are deep, inspiring him in his work as the head of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. Williams has overseen a wide range of efforts aimed at boosting economic activity in the Manhattan neighborhood, providing guidance to local small businesses and hosting events such as Harlem Week to celebrate the neighborhood’s institutions and leaders. Williams has also been active in discussions about how to ensure Harlem is included in plans to make the city more resilient in the face of climate change.
Thomas Kucharski has led a series of transformative initiatives since joining Invest Buffalo Niagara well over two decades ago, including building a research department with cutting-edge mapping capabilities through the Buffalo Niagara Commercial Listing System. At the helm of the economic development organization, which represents Western New York’s eight counties, Kucharski has garnered $4.4 billion in investment as president and CEO. Over 42,000 jobs have been created or retained under his leadership.
Michael Rozen is among New York’s business leaders with a significant track record of involvement in state government. Rozen chaired the state’s ethics board up until last year, and he’s currently a board member of Empire State Development, New York’s economic development arm. At TRGP Investment Partners LP, Rosen provides capital funding as well as corporate management, deal sourcing, investment selection and commercial litigation for law firms, investors, entrepreneurs and other clients.
As former executive vice president and head of the real estate transactions group at the New York City Economic Development Corp., Patrick O’Sullivan worked closely with various agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to carry out public-private transactions throughout the city and continues to serve on the group’s board of directors. O’Sullivan is now at Herrick, where he represents developers, investors and government agencies on various real estate issues, especially public-private transactions.
Steve Polivy is a leading expert in New York on securing government incentives and subsidies for major real estate and development projects, including creating spaces for life sciences research, battery storage installations and major transportation hubs. His firm, Akerman, is headquartered in Miami with offices in major cities across the country – including New York City, where Polivy has long handled real estate matters, such as his efforts to assist in the large-scale rebuilding in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Patrick Sullivan’s experience serving as a counsel at the New York City Economic Development Corp. led him to his current role at Kramer Levin, where he has represented clients in zoning and municipal law transactions. Sullivan has been vocal about antiquated zoning laws causing problems for those looking to construct facilities for the life sciences industry, and he has also represented people seeking asylum as part of the firm’s pro bono practice.
Jason Myles Clark wore many hats before becoming the head of trade group Tech:NYC. The former assistant attorney general and founder of a free online program to prepare low-income students for specialized high school admissions tests was also a partner at a law firm where he tech startups in the criminal justice space. Now at Tech:NYC, Clark is working to focus on ensuring the tech workforce is accessible to all New Yorkers while working to reduce the digital divide – an issue especially emphasized by the pandemic.
An expert in workforce development for the past two decades, Doug Cotter has spent nearly 16 years climbing the ranks at Grant Associates, a Manhattan-based firm with a nationwide footprint. Cotter has played a key role in driving the program design and launch of new contracts at the firm, which has served more than 50,000 businesses and more than 1,250,000 people in workforce and career training. With his unique expertise, Cotter has presented on workforce development issues for a number of national organizations.
Ron Rock’s extensive career in state government spanned more than three decades. During that time, he had a hand in crafting $100 billion in transportation plans and new tax credits and grants aimed at drawing high-tech companies to the state. That expertise in navigating state government and promoting economic development made him a valuable addition to government relations firm Brown & Weinraub.
For over four decades, James McKenna has been boosting tourism in the Adirondacks as the leader of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, more pithily known as ROOST. The private, not-for-profit marketing organization promotes a number of low-impact, high-reward efforts across Schroon Lake, Lake Champlain, the Whiteface Region, Saranac Lake, Hamilton County and Lake Placid – where it’s headquartered and where the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held – that also benefit local residents and the environment.
As part of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ billion-dollar life science jobs initiative, collaborative efforts between the city Economic Development Corp. and Mount Sinai Health System are underway to construct a new surgical research facility with rare medical device prototyping capabilities. As president of the hospital’s innovation arm, Erik Lium, whose expertise has led to the creation of 29 public and private companies based on Mount Sinai technologies, is hopeful the center will attract global collaborators, drive critical research and enable cutting-edge medical breakthroughs.
In July, Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Claire Pomeroy were chosen to co-chair New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Life Sciences Advisory Council, part of the mayor’s effort to spur further growth in the city’s life sciences sector. Varmus and Pomeroy were tasked with exploring new investments that could create jobs and develop new drugs and diagnostics. Varmus, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist at Weill Cornell Medicine, held the same role in the de Blasio administration, while Pomeroy, the president of the Lasker Foundation, is a new co-chair.
Ken Stewart and NUAIR are leading the way in navigating how to integrate drones in national airspace. This fall, the company and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced federal approval of New York’s 50-mile drone corridor between Syracuse and Rome. Along with the announcement, Stewart secured $21 million in state funding to create the world-leading drone hub. Once the hub is up and running and the corridor’s operations are in full swing, Stewart and NUAIR aim to revolutionize the state’s commercial cargo transport.
For more than a quarter century, the Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff has been a leading advocate for minority- and women-owned business enterprises – a key priority for the New York City and state governments. The spiritual leader of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, DeGraff has long fought for an array of social justice causes, most recently boosting coronavirus vaccination rates among Black New Yorkers. New York City Mayor Eric Adams named DeGraff to his Capital Process Reform Task Force this year.
Since its launch in 2014, 43North has established itself as an epicenter of technology and innovation in Buffalo – a point that Gov. Kathy Hochul made when she announced the 15 finalists for the organization’s annual startup competition in September. Since her promotion to president of 43North at the beginning of 2020, Colleen Heidinger has led the organization in supporting Buffalo’s economic development during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. At the end of the competition, five companies chosen by 43North and Heidinger will receive $1 million to relocate to Buffalo.
Kristin Malek plays a key role ensuring CDW, a company that provides technology products to government and businesses, works with diverse partners and suppliers. And she kept those efforts up even through the pandemic, steering major funds to businesses owned by people from disadvantaged communities over the past two years. Malek also launched a new mentorship program to help grow minority- and women-owned businesses in New York City.
As New York moves forward with fully legalized recreational marijuana, Dan Livingston is fighting corporate consolidation within New York’s cannabis industry while trying to ensure local communities share in the economic benefits. Having worked with the Cannabis Association of New York since its founding, Livingston brings experience as a former Binghamton City Council member and a co-founder of the Binghamton Urban Farm. As the regulation and licensing of the state’s cannabis industry gets underway, Livingston is representing members from every stage of the supply chain.
Sujatha Ramanujan has led Luminate for five years, having joined the NextCorps-administered accelerator after launching three startups of her own and with 25 years of experience in clinical devices and consumer electronics. Each year, Ramanujan identifies startups from around the world to invest $100,000 in – and provide them with training and support. In October, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Germany-based Lidrotec as Luminate’s “Company of the Year,” with a $1 million state investment as part of the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
The mission of the New Economy Project is to promote development, but only as long as it’s achieved by partnering cooperatively with communities in a way that puts people ahead of corporations. The organization, led by Sarah Ludwig and Deyanira Del Río, is pushing for public banking, community land trusts and a broader equity agenda that tackles racial and economic inequality. It recently teamed up with several partners to launch an effort to bring more affordable banking services to residents of the Bronx.
While the country regains its footing following pandemic-related job losses, New York City’s recovery remains the slowest of any major metropolitan area. As the wealth disparity widens and record high rents remain a top concern, Gregory J. Morris understands what’s at stake. He was recently appointed CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, where he’ll help address the roadblocks faced by New Yorkers struggling to earn a living wage. Morris previously fought for children and low-income families at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, Children’s Aid and The Door.
New York continues to emerge as a leader in the growing clean energy sector, with the addition of Electrovaya’s first U.S. plant coming to Chautauqua County next fall. Forecasted to create 250 jobs, the move will deepen the state’s involvement in innovative energy technologies. Led by the lithium-ion battery production company’s CEO Raj Das Gupta, who brings over 13 years of experience to automotive battery technology, the facility will produce lithium-ion cells and modules to produce batteries critical to powering future electric vehicles of all types.
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