Economic Development

The 2023 Economic Development Power 100

The entrepreneurs, executives and officials bringing jobs back to New York.

City & State presents the 2023 Economic Development Power 100.

City & State presents the 2023 Economic Development Power 100. Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of Kathy Hochul; NYC HPD; NYCEDC

By some measures, New York’s economy is on the upswing. The unemployment rate in the state is a healthy 4.2%. Subway ridership in New York City is on the rebound, and airport activity has exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Times Square, an iconic business district, is bouncing back.

Yet New York’s economy still faces many challenges, from rising inflation and higher interest rates to the ongoing adjustment to the post-pandemic switch to a hybrid workforce. Yet government and business leaders in the state are reimaging and rebuilding the economy. But as Whitney Houston sang, “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow” and these leaders show New Yorkers never will.

Economic development is underway across the state – from the green economy in New York City, the life sciences in the Hudson Valley and the semiconductor industry in Central New York to a new tech corridor that’s shattering the Rust Belt. Plus, there are prosperous seaports and bustling small businesses in countless communities.

Meet the economic leaders who are reminding the world that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

1. Hope Knight

President, CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development
Hope Knight / Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of Kathy Hochul

Hope Knight has her finger on the pulse of the New York economy. The state’s economic development chief has been busy increasing broadband connectivity, boosting an arts program for people with disabilities in Jamestown, awarding small-business grants from Buffalo to Woodstock and supporting business accelerator programs. To bolster the state’s international trade program, Knight kicked off a statewide tour for her agency’s international trade agents from around the world to better connect with New York businesses. Gov. Kathy Hochul expanded Knight’s portfolio with a seat on the state Cannabis Control Board.

2. Maria Torres-Springer

New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce
Maria Torres-Springer / NYC HPD

New York City Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer saw her portfolio expand this summer, adding city housing policy to her role as New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ top economic development deputy. She has been involved in the implementation of Adams’ City of Yes initiative, including connecting her new housing portfolio to economic issues with plans to convert unused office space to housing and lobbying state lawmakers to facilitate conversions. Torres-Springer is also expanding a fellowship program aimed at diversifying the city’s tech sector.

3. Andrew Kimball

President and CEO, New York City Economic Development Corp.
Andrew Kimball / NYCEDC

Andrew Kimball knows a thing or two about New York City’s innovation economy, having helmed groundbreaking projects before taking over the city’s economic development agency. In September, Kimball announced a new climate innovation pilot program at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and helped develop the new tech hub space in Manhattan’s Union Square. Kimball has also been working on the city’s new biotechnology hub at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and praised the Willets Point redevelopment, which includes affordable housing and a new soccer stadium, as a model for public-private partnerships.

4. Kathryn Wylde

President and CEO, Partnership for New York City
Kathryn Wylde / Buck Ennis

When Kathryn Wylde speaks, New York business and government leaders listen. The influential economic leader is a key voice for the city’s business community, and she has been pressing ahead on New York City’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Wylde organized the business community to ask President Joe Biden to provide financial assistance and expedited work permits to assist the city with the migrant crisis. She supported the Clean Slate Act, saying it will open the door to more job seekers in the state. She also said that while the city needs to adjust to the hybrid office environment, the switch is not hurting the economy.

5. Heather Briccetti Mulligan

President and CEO, Business Council of New York State
Heather Briccetti Mulligan / Joan Heffler Photography

Heather Briccetti Mulligan has strong words for President Joe Biden not releasing work permits for migrants in New York: “It’s just stupid.” The influential state business advocate said migrants want to work and there are jobs for them, but they just need the federal work permits to be able to do the work. When Mulligan isn’t critiquing the White House, she has been outlining a new clean energy vision for the state. This includes having state officials role out the clean energy transition in a practical way that addresses business and workforce needs.

6. Janno Lieber

Chair and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Janno Lieber / Jessie Mislavsky, MTA

Not since the days of the late Dick Ravitch has a Metropolitan Transportation Authority leader found himself at the center of so many consequential issues impacting the future of New York’s economy. Janno Lieber is implementing congestion pricing, shaping the future of driving into Manhattan while drawing the ire of suburbanites and outer borough residents. At the same time, Lieber is looking to make major moves such as the next phase of the Second Avenue subway, a project that is receiving $3.4 billion in federal funding.

7. Vincent Alvarez

President, New York City Central Labor Council
Vincent Alvarez / NYC CLC

Vincent Alvarez’s impact on the New York City economy does not stop with his influential role leading the labor movement across the five boroughs. He’s a key economic adviser as well in his new role as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Alvarez pushed New York City Mayor Eric Adams to fulfill his promise for a minimum pay for food delivery workers. In September, the labor leader applauded Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing a package of worker protection legislation, including a new wage theft law.

8. John Williams

President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
John Williams / Rob Kim / Getty Images

John Williams is not only one of the top economic policymakers in New York but a leading voice in monetary policy in the nation. The influential vice chair of the central bank’s interest rate setting Federal Open Markets Committee suggested in September that the Federal Reserve may be done with interest rate hikes due to a significant slowdown in inflation. In November, the committee maintained the federal funds rate while reiterating its goal to combat inflation.

9. Kevin Kim

Commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business Services
Kevin Kim / David DuPuy Studios

It’s been a productive year for Kevin Kim, who presided over the creation of a new Small Business Opportunity Fund, which opened in January. In June, Kim announced that over 600 small businesses had been served by the public-private partnership, with $50.5 million in capital awarded, much of that to minority- and women-owned businesses. New York City partners in the project include Goldman Sachs, MasterCard and a number of community development financial institutions. Kim also announced a new artificial intelligence program to assist small businesses access city services.

10. Harry Bronson & Sean Ryan

Chairs, Assembly Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry Committee; State Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee
Harry Bronson & Sean Ryan / New York State Senate

Assembly Member Harry Bronson is clear he does not want a casino in downtown Rochester. The Rochester lawmaker helped to block a new casino compact for the Seneca Nation to address a potential new casino in his city. Bronson also called for a faster implementation of the state’s Office of Strategic Workforce Development.

State Sen. Sean Ryan took over as chair of the state Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee this year and is putting his mark on state business policy. The Buffalo lawmaker has passed legislation – pending before Gov. Kathy Hochul – to ban noncompete agreements in the state. Ryan has raised the idea of regulating the internet as a public utility.

Both Bronson and Ryan want to increase scrutiny of local industrial development agencies and their impact on local revenue streams and economic growth.

11. Randy Peers

President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Randy Peers / Provided

The country views Brooklyn as the “it” borough, and Randy Peers works to make sure no other borough tries to take the title away. Peers has been boosting the Brooklyn economy with projects including the new Brooklyn Made Store in Industry City, which focuses on the work of Brooklyn entrepreneurs and businesses. He has also been working on efforts to expedite work permits for asylum-seekers and to boost Brooklyn’s clean energy economy. Peers this year welcomed 34 foreign delegations who were interested in economic partnerships with Brooklyn.

12. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

Chancellor, City University of New York
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez / Marcus Beasley, CUNY

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is focusing on using the City University of New York as both an institution of higher education and as a key part of New York City’s economic development and upward mobility efforts. He has focused on economic initiatives including to partner CUNY with the business community and to train students for financial careers. In June, he joined New York City Mayor Eric Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks to announce the expansion of a technology career pipeline initiative that will include Google as a tech anchor employer.

13. John King

Chancellor, State University of New York
John King / Cindy Schultz

A year after criss-crossing Maryland trying to become the state’s governor, John King is criss-crossing New York to showcase how the State University of New York is an economic engine. King outlined a vision that included promoting SUNY’s economic impact and highlighted efforts on regional workforce development, the semiconductor industry and renewable energy. In his first State of SUNY address, King said the higher education system would work to implement Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vision for increased investment in research on SUNY campuses and partner with local communities on economic development.

14. Fred Dixon

President and CEO, New York City Tourism + Conventions
Fred Dixon / Jen Davis, New York City Tourism + Conventions

After almost a quarter century as NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism bureau is now New York City Tourism + Conventions. Fred Dixon said the rebranding better communicates the focus of his agency. Dixon and his team are also focused on featuring New Yorkers talking about destinations that tourists need to visit across the five boroughs. In the spring, Dixon traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, as part of efforts to open up new tourism markets internationally. Last year, New York City welcomed 56 million tourists – and Dixon is predicting 61 million this year.

15. James Katz

Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Workforce, New York State Executive Chamber
James Katz / Provided

Described by Gov. Kathy Hochul as part of the state’s economic development “dream team,” James Katz brings extensive experience to his role in the governor’s inner circle. A former deputy Manhattan borough president under Gale Brewer, Katz was a longtime executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corp. in then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. Katz also served as a point person behind the “New” New York Panel formed by Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams to chart New York City’s economic future.

16. Matt Cohen

President and CEO, Long Island Association

Matt Cohen sees business on Long Island booming, with higher education a key factor. Cohen said grants from the state’s $350 million Long Island Investment Fund to multiple colleges across the region will help grow the local science, technology and innovation economies. Cohen also celebrated the recent designation of Stony Brook University as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University” by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He also supports the Belmont Park renovation, saying it will create 3,700 jobs and provide an annual $150 million economic boost.

17. Thomas Grech

President and CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce
Thomas Grech / Dominic Totino

Thomas Grech has been focused on transportation policy lately as he advocates for business owners in Queens. Grech has argued that congestion pricing will harm small businesses and hurt the region’s economy by driving up the cost of consumer goods. Grech’s own transportation plan includes calling for an extension of transit fare discounts, a $10 congestion pricing fee with no exceptions and a one-year pilot program for free weekday mass transit and commuter rail. Grech was critical of U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Pete Buttigieg and state Attorney General Letitia James for trying to block Long Island City-based JetBlue’s proposed merger with Spirit Airlines.

18. Gary LaBarbera

President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
Gary LaBarbera / Alex Kaplan Photography

Gary LaBarbera has said New York’s clean energy transition is not just sound environmental policy – it’s a key economic driver. The powerful labor leader insists union labor will fill key clean energy jobs, and that the transition would not just directly create jobs but also bolster apprenticeship and workforce development programs. LaBarbera has called on state and federal leaders to continue to move forward on large-scale public and private projects that create union jobs. He also wants a higher prevailing wage, which could reduce racial wealth disparities.

19. Amanda Farías

Chair, New York City Council Economic Development Committee
Amanda Farías / Emil Cohen

New York City Council Member Amanda Farías is committed to a thriving manufacturing sector. Farías passed legislation to have the city create and implement plans to expand industrial business zones in order to spur more manufacturing. She has introduced legislation to study the feasibility of a linkage fee that developers would pay into a fund for job training and community benefits. Farías is also seeking to promote equity in economic development and to expand ferry usage.

20. Andrew Rigie

Executive Director, New York City Hospitality Alliance
Andrew Rigie / Mary Beth Koeth

New York City is the city that never sleeps, and we’re not sure Andrew Rigie ever sleeps either as an indefatigable advocate of the hospitality sector. Rigie has worked to establish new outdoor dining regulations, criticized dancing bans at restaurants and questioned a new restaurant trash container mandate, saying a uniform rule does not work for all restaurants. He praised Mayor Eric Adams’ City of Yes initiative, saying it would help restaurants. He also said that restaurant owners have jobs for migrants, but the White House must authorize work permits before they can be hired.

21. Bob Duffy

President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
Bob Duffy / Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce

In October, the federal government designated a new tech corridor for Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, paving the way for increased federal investment. Bob Duffy, a former lieutenant governor, said the designation means the region is “no longer the Rust Belt” but rather “a shining star.” A former Rochester police chief, Duffy has derided smash and grab robberies in the city, saying it is hurting business and telling those responsible to “get a job.” Gov. Kathy Hochul has also tasked Duffy with overseeing the construction of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

22. Robert Simpson

CEO, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity
Robert Simpson / CenterState CEO

As the leader of the business and economic development organization CenterState in Central New York, Robert Simpson is literally at the center of some of the state’s biggest economic development initiatives. Micron is opening a plant in the Syracuse suburbs – billed as a $100 billion investment – and the federal government has designated Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo as a new tech corridor. Simpson attributes Micron’s arrival to collaboration between business, government, academic and other groups in the Syracuse region. Simpson also has touted TTM Technologies’ planned $130 million expansion to bolster the smart systems supply chain industry.

23. Marsha Gordon

President and CEO, Business Council of Westchester
Marsha Gordon / Cathy Pinsky, Pinsky Studio

While suburban businesses are facing some challenges, Marsha Gordon is optimistic about the business climate for Westchester County and the broader Hudson Valley. Gordon reports the region is seeing growth in biosciences, media and professional services. In November, the Business Council’s Westchester Innovation Network launched its fourth City Lab in Peekskill, where Iona University students will study ways to make Peekskill an arts destination. The organization is also calling on Congress to restore the full research and development tax deduction, saying it will spur the innovation economy.

24. Dottie Gallagher

President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
Dottie Gallagher / Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Dottie Gallagher has dedicated her career to boosting Buffalo, and there’s more for her to celebrate than ever. She said the designation of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse as a new tech hub will reduce regional competition and allow the Thruway corridor to cooperate on economic growth. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s annual survey showed the Buffalo employers want to hire, but need more qualified candidates. Gallagher is also serving on a task force to redesign Buffalo’s approach to storm management after last year’s deadly blizzard.

25. Margaret Anadu

Chair, New York City Economic Development Corp.

An expert in equitable access to capital and growing the economy in underserved areas, Margaret Anadu is putting that experience to use for the people of New York City in her role as board chair of the New York City Economic Development Corp. Mayor Eric Adams said Anadu’s background in real estate investing and in working on economic issues in underserved communities was a key reason for the appointment, saying it was the skill set needed to lead the board. Anadu is a senior partner in real estate at the Vistria Group.

26. Kevin Law

Board Chair, Empire State Development Corp.
Kevin Law / Yellow House Images

Kevin Law has been called “Mr. Long Island” for his extensive involvement in the region. Today, he applies that business acumen and enthusiasm for economic growth to the whole state. Law chairs Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm. Law, who’s also an executive vice president of real estate development firm Tritec, previously led the Long Island Association and the Long Island Power Authority and is a former co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. He’s also on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

27. Randy Wolken

President and CEO, Manufacturers Association of Central New York
Randy Wolken / Ron Trinca

The manufacturing industry in Central New York is having its moment, with Micron opening a major new plant in the Syracuse suburbs, the designation of the Thruway corridor as a federal biotechnology hub and the passage of the federal CHIPS Act. Randy Wolken expects the Micron project, which is projected to create 9,000 jobs, to spur population growth as new skilled workers arrive. Wolken has also called the investment a game changer.

28. Taryn Duffy

Vice President, Public Affairs, MGM Resorts, Northeast Group
Taryn Duffy / Provided

Three new full-fledged casino licenses are coming to downstate, and Empire City Casino in Yonkers, one of two existing racinos in the region, is considered a likely contender for one of them. Taryn Duffy has been a public face for Empire City Casino in the region and before state regulators. Duffy also chaired the New York Gaming Association, serving as a leading advocate for the casino industry statewide. She has been recently leading the casino’s investment programs in Bronx and Westchester nonprofit programs.

29. Carlo Scissura

President and CEO, New York Building Congress
Carlo Scissura / New York Building Congress

Carlo Scissura has good news and bad news for New York City. Scissura announced that his New York Building Congress had found that construction spending in the city was up $13 billion, to $83 billion, but that housing construction had slowed. Scissura outlined potential solutions to housing construction, including lifting the floor area ratio cap and to focus on transit-oriented development in New York City and on Long Island. Potential sites include the Mineola train station, the 68th Street-Hunter College as well as the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street subway station in Manhattan.

30. Camille Joseph-Goldman

Group Vice President of Government Affairs for the Northeast, Charter Communications
Camille Joseph-Goldman / Submitted

Increased broadband access is a key factor in economic development, particularly in rural communities and underserved urban neighborhoods. Camille Joseph-Goldman has been driving Charter Communications’ efforts on this front in New York, including expanding access to broadband. Charter recently announced the completion of 31 miles of network connectivity in Red Hook and an increase in rural broadband outreach across upstate. Joseph-Goldman recently announced a grant for the Bushwick Film Festival as part of a program to grow the creative economy.

31. Jessica Lappin

President, Alliance for Downtown New York
Jessica Lappin / Jane Kratochvil

Anyone who wrote lower Manhattan’s obituary during and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t check with Jessica Lappin. The downtown business leader wants everyone to know the neighborhood is not dead, and she said it’s in fact “more dynamic” than ever. Lappin said the area has experienced an increase in tourism, retail stores and foot traffic. She also acknowledged that while she sees the hybrid workforce being a new standard, all factors weighed together reflect a growing downtown economy.

32. Wellington Chen

Executive Director, Chinatown Partnership
Wellington Chen / Chinatown Partnership

Wellington Chen is focused on making sure Chinatown weathers any economic storms and continues to thrive. An influential leader in the Manhattan business community, Chen has been collaborating with New York City officials to redesign several public spaces across Chinatown, aiming to make the neighborhood a more welcoming place. He has been focused on combating anti-Asian hate crimes and keeping the community safe. Chen currently serves as a commissioner on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

33. Jessica Walker

President and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Jessica Walker has a message for the world’s economic and political leaders: Manhattan doesn’t compete against the other boroughs – instead, it’s leading a five-borough economic coalition on a global scale. Walker said a united five-borough strategy is important for economic growth across New York City. Walker has also teamed with other business leaders in the fight to reduce retail crime and was a key backer of successful legislation last year for New York City to create a one-stop shop for small businesses interacting with city government.

34. Elizabeth Crowley

President and CEO, Building Trades Employers Association
Elizabeth Crowley / NYC Council

Elizabeth Crowley stepped in to succeed Lou Coletti earlier this year, becoming the first woman to lead the influential Building Trades Employers’ Association. Crowley, a former New York City Council member who co-founded the successful 21 in ’21 initiative to elect more women to the legislative body, has made increasing union-led construction a top priority, including as part of the expansion of affordable housing construction. In September, Crowley unveiled an initiative to promote suicide prevention in the industry.

35. Garry Douglas

President and CEO, North Country Chamber of Commerce
Garry Douglas / Provided

There are no slow days for Garry Douglas. Douglas has backed Rep. Elise Stefanik’s bid to designate Plattsburgh International Airport as a federal port of entry, which would shift customs and border costs from Clinton County to the federal government and bring more international air travel. Douglas welcomed U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to Plattsburgh this year to tour an aerospace electrification plant. He also pivoted to recruit new business when Volvo shut down an electric bus plant in Plattsburgh.

36. Cristyne Nicholas

Chair, State Tourism Advisory Council
Cristyne Nicholas / Jill Singer Graphics

When New York’s tourism industry is ailing, who you gonna call? Cristyne Nicholas. Nicholas led the rebuilding of New York City tourism following the Sept. 11 attacks and now is rebuilding tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The state Tourism Advisory Council has been involved in new projects in Niagara Falls, investments in winter tourism, the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution and record funding for arts and cultural capital projects. Last year, the state welcomed a record 291 million visitors. Nicholas is also CEO of Nicholas & Lence Communications and she chairs the Broadway Association.

37. René F. Jones

Chair and CEO, M&T Bank

After a string of major bank closures this year, René F. Jones is making clear that M&T Bank is safe and secure. Jones said the Buffalo-based bank has achieved this by pursuing a cautious growth strategy that has driven sustainable growth and supported a community-minded focus, with less risk than other banks. Jones reassured shareholders that M&T avoided temptations to invest in long-term government bonds due to fluctuating interest rates, preferring to hold off while rates stabilized.

38. Robert Benfatto

President, Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance
Robert Benfatto / Gabby Jones

Cultivating a new neighborhood is daunting, but Robert Benfatto is helping to make the recently created Hudson Yards a thriving destination. A new addition to a local park named after Bella Abzug is Paradis in the Park, a new coffee, food and cocktails kiosk, along with pushcarts serving cold brews and other coffees around the park. Benfatto also serves as co-chair of the New York City BID Association, which advocates for the city’s many business improvement districts.

39. William S. Floyd

Senior Director, U.S. State and Local Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google
William S. Floyd / Joshua Zuckerman

William Floyd may be a veteran of New York City’s political scene, but he’s not set in the ways of the past. Floyd has been hard at work envisioning the city’s economic future. As a member of the “New” New York Panel formed by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Floyd has helped to sketch out a plan to address the city’s economic evolution in the post-coronavirus era. Floyd also serves as a board member of the New York City Economic Development Corp.

40. Rob Byrnes

President, East Midtown Partnership
Rob Byrnes / Andres Otero

Rob Byrnes wants people to know that East Midtown is a destination, and not just for work. Byrnes has been working with other Manhattan leaders on plans to transform the business hub for the era of hybrid work and fewer office workers. Last year, Byrnes teamed with other Midtown business association leaders to lobby state lawmakers for an increased focus on tackling crime in Manhattan, along with issues including housing and working with higher education on tourism workforce development.

41. Maria Gotsch

President and CEO, Partnership Fund for New York City
Maria Gotsch / Partnership for New York City

Maria Gotsch is stoking the innovation economy, focusing on technology and life sciences as key parts of the future of a diversified New York City economy. Gotsch was an early leader in growing the financial technology sector in New York, working to connect fintech companies with the city’s banking community to grow the sector. Recently, Gotsch has been working with the city Department of Environmental Protection on an Environmental Tech Lab to address climate and water challenges. Funding the development of the city’s life sciences ecosystem has been a priority.

42. Peter Tu

Executive Director, Flushing Chinese Business Association
Peter Tu / Provided

Peter Tu is excited about the Flushing, Queens, economy and wants more businesses to come to the neighborhood to maintain local growth. Tu said the businesses that are opening up in the community have been thriving. Tu has also praised Mets owner Steve Cohen for his vision for the area around Citi Field, including a proposed new casino. He said Cohen’s vision would allow for new parks and green space that will be used by the Flushing community.

43. Winston Fisher

Partner, Fisher Brothers
Winston Fisher / Fisher Brothers

Winston Fisher is helping to drive New York’s economy, but his vision extends across the country. The partner in real estate firm Fisher Brothers is a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a former co-chair of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, and he has also taken a key role in a new development in Las Vegas. Fisher leads the Area15 project in Las Vegas, an experiential retail and entertainment district, which is undergoing a 20-acre expansion. Fisher is in the process of creating a similar district in Central Florida, near the region’s theme parks.

44. Bob DeSalvio

President, Genting New York

With three downstate casino licenses up for grabs, Resorts World in Queens, an existing racetrack casino, is considered a front-runner to get a license. Bob DeSalvio has been positioning the racino for this potential expansion, which would add 1,000 union jobs. He also recently announced that Resorts World has raised $4 billion in revenue for the state lottery education fund. State Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Chair Joseph Addabbo Jr. has praised the existing casino for its contributions to the local community.

45. Rafael Cestero

CEO, Community Preservation Corp.
Rafael Cestero / CPC

Recognizing that housing is a key part of any overall economic development strategy, Rafael Cestero has positioned Community Preservation Corp. as a linchpin in the housing finance market and as one of the country’s largest community development financial institutions dedicated to multifamily housing construction. Among the projects CPC has worked on recently include a new development in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that is part of the state’s Vital Brooklyn initiative, a partnership with the Kingston City Land Bank as well as a new project in Buffalo’s Broadway Fillmore neighborhood.

46. Rob Speyer

CEO, Tishman Speyer

When it comes to Rob Speyer, the question isn’t whether he’s spurring economic growth in New York City, but how he’s achieving that goal. Speyer’s influence stems from his real estate behemoth Tishman Speyer, and the former Real Estate Board of New York chair is now diving into the life sciences sphere, forming a partnership between Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital to form Breakthrough Properties, which is backed by Breakthrough Life Sciences Property Fund, a $3 billion venture, to grow the industry in the United States and Europe.

47. Melissa O’Connor

President and CEO, Retail Council of New York State
Melissa O’Connor / JP Elario

Combating retail store theft, protecting the fashion industry, celebrating the outdoor sporting goods industry in Albany – it’s all in a day’s work for Melissa O’Connor. She is a front-line general in the war on retail store theft, pushing for state and federal legislation to aid in the crackdown and huddling with law enforcement to plot strategy. O’Connor is leading efforts to oppose the Fashion Act, a pending state-level bill to tighten environmental and workforce standards, saying the fashion industry’s global nature would be complicated by state level laws.

48. Stacey Duncan

CEO, Leadership Alliance
Stacey Duncan / Amy Williamson, The Agency

Leading the umbrella organization for Broome County’s industrial development agency and the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, Stacey Duncan is a key figure in spurring economic growth in the Southern Tier. Duncan has targeted the Binghamton suburb of Johnson City, with its new downtown lofts and the making of the Oakdale Commons mall, which will include the nation’s largest Dick’s Sporting Goods. Binghamton University has moved several health sciences programs to downtown Johnson City, a village which grew around the former Endicott-Johnson Corp., a shoe manufacturer.

49. Antonio Delgado

Lieutenant Governor
Antonio Delgado / Delgado For Congress

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado has taken to New York’s highways and byways in his role as chair of the state’s regional economic development councils. According to the National Lieutenant Governors Association, Delgado is one of 18 lieutenant governors with direct economic development duties. Delgado made a visit to Cornell University, which included a tour of a lab synthesizing microbes to sustainably recover rare earth elements, spurring green energy growth. Delgado has also worked on projects to grow downtown business districts statewide and to open a new business incubator in Olean.

50. Pat Swinney Kaufman

Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
Pat Swinney Kaufman / Robert Falck

Someone has to keep Carrie Bradshaw from “And Just Like That” in her designer shoes and the Reagan family from “Blue Bloods” supplied for Sunday dinner, and it’s up to Pat Swinney Kaufman to keep these fictional characters alive, well and most importantly, in New York City. A longtime New York film policymaker, Kaufman took over as the city’s film and television chief earlier this year, in the middle of simultaneous writers and actors strikes that ground the industry to a halt. Kaufman previously headed the state’s film and television agency for 19 years, where she led efforts to create the state’s film tax credit and other incentive programs for the industry.

51. Steven Roth

CEO, Vornado Realty Trust

Steven Roth has long been tied to the fate of Penn Station, even if it is unclear what the real estate titan is planning. Roth started the year by pulling back from his ambitious redevelopment project with commercial office towers centered around a resigned train station. Roth has sought to establish a new vision for the area, with plans for a new residential neighborhood. But he has also pulled Vornado’s bid for one of downstate’s new casino licenses, a project he planned to center at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue.

52. Bridget Gibbons

Director of Economic Development, Westchester County
Bridget Gibbons / Cathy Pinsky, Pinsky Studio

Bridget Gibbons is focused on growing and diversifying the Westchester County economy. She has created the Launch1000 incubator program to better connect startup founders with mentors to launch businesses in the county. With over 200 life sciences companies based in the county, Gibbons has been focused on supporting the sector’s growth, including the creation of the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator. Gibbons has overseen the creation of a technology incubator for county business, along with developing programs to grow the clean energy workforce.

53. Ryan Silva

Executive Director, State Economic Development Council
Ryan Silva / Patrick Renzi Photography

Ryan Silva is emphasizing the value of governmental investments and the state’s myriad economic agencies. As some state lawmakers question the work of industrial development agencies, Silva is promoting them. He’s touting a new study that shows the benefits of IDAs, including $830 million in new local tax revenue since 2021, the creation of almost 40,000 new housing units between 2018 and 2022, and support for clean energy projects. An Economic Development Council goal under Silva is to become the state’s economic development think tank.

54. Randy Levine

President, New York Yankees
Randy Levine / New York Yankees

The longtime leader of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine’s reach in the world of sports has become more global this year. Levine, a former New York City deputy mayor for economic development, joined the board of Italian soccer club AC Milan this year. Levine also announced plans for Yankee Global Enterprises to acquire an equity stake in A1 Padel, a sports company focused on organizing racquet sport events in North America, with a focus on growing awareness of the sport in the United States.

55. Michael Romita

President and CEO, Westchester County Association
Michael Romita / Provided

Michael Romita wants people to know that while Westchester County has some challenges in the energy sector, the county is set to capitalize on the state’s clean energy shift. Romita is touting clean energy companies that are coming to Westchester, along with new workforce development programs to connect county residents with the skills needed for the industry. Apart from energy, the Westchester County Association remains bullish on the health care sector, highlighting the job growth in that part of the county economy.

56. Shirley Aldebol

Vice President, 32BJ SEIU
Shirley Aldebol / 32BJ

Shirley Aldebol’s place in New York City’s economic development ecosystem comes not just from her role as an influential labor union official. The 32BJ SEIU vice president is also a member of the board of directors of the New York City Economic Development Corp. Earlier this year, Aldebol threatened a strike by Bronx residential building workers, which was avoided when management came to a deal with the workers she represents.

57. Valerie White

Senior Executive Director, LISC NY
Valerie White / Marino PR

Valerie White is on a mission to address systematic inequalities in New York’s economy in a collaborative fashion. White has focused on supporting minority- and women-owned businesses, including conducting a listening tour to meet with small-business owners to craft effective solutions. LISC NY has initiated the Developers of Color program to connect funds with developers around the state for business growth. White has united the organization's New York City and Buffalo offices and under her leadership, LISC has invested almost $70 million in affordable housing projects, supported the development 850 units of affordable housing, provided grants to small businesses in Buffalo and made investments in communities across the state. 

58. Nick Lugo

President and CEO, New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Nick Lugo’s objective of supporting Hispanic entrepreneurship in New York City is not just a professional passion but a personal one as well. Lugo’s father became the city’s first Hispanic travel agent after he persuaded Juan Trippe, the legendary founder of Pan Am, to pave the way for the business to open. Lugo wants to open up such entrepreneurial opportunities to more Latinos, noting that data shows that Hispanic people only own 6% of businesses in the city.

59. Nina Kubota

President and CEO, New York City School Construction Authority
Nina Kubota / New York City School Construction Authority

Some in the education field spend their summer vacations relaxing on a beach or preparing curriculum for the new year. Nina Kubota spends her summers making sure the drywall is up and classrooms are painted in time for the start of school. In September, Kubota celebrated the School Construction Authority completing 10 new schools for the current school year, adding over 4,000 new school seats as part of a $19.4 billion capital plan. Kubota is leading city plans to have all city schools solely on electric heating by 2030.

60. Sanjay Mehrotra

CEO, Micron
Sanjay Mehrotra / Mike Groll, Office of the Governor

The buzz about Micron in Syracuse has reached Washington, D.C., as U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo designated Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo a new federal tech hub, in part because of Micron’s new semiconductor plant in the Syracuse suburbs. CEO Sanjay Mehrotra has been promoting Micron’s impact on the state economy, noting the company’s role in artificial intelligence. In the spring, Mehrotra and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a Syracuse community engagement committee, part of Micron’s $100 billion investment that is projected to create 50,000 jobs.

61. Mike Oates

President and CEO, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp.

Mike Oates is helping the Hudson Valley economy thrive. He has touted the merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines that will provide increased travel destinations for Hudson Valley residents. Oates called a $21.7 million grant that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer obtained to revitalize the Kingston waterfront a “game changer” for the city’s economy. Oates has been described as the “linchpin” to finalize a deal for Connecticut-based National Resources to revitalize a long closed IBM plant in Ulster County.

62. Elena Garuc

Executive Director, FuzeHub
Elena Garuc / John Schlia

Elena Garuc is positioning upstate as a startup hub in New York and the nation. FuzeHub advanced to the semifinals of a National Science Foundation competition that could bring the innovation economy group $160 million in funds over the next decade to boost the startup ecosystem upstate. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has endorsed the project, saying upstate “has the ingredients” for startup growth. FuzeHub recently announced the winners of its own annual commercialization competition, with Ashlawn Energy, a Binghamton company, winning the $150,000 grand prize.

63. Robert Provost

President and CEO, New York State Tourism Industry Association

New York’s tourism industry is back and bigger than ever. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that a record-setting 291.5 million tourists came to New York in 2022. Robert Provost is not completely satisfied, though, as he seeks to grow the state’s third largest industry with a $122.7 billion annual economic impact. Provost has been advocating for tourism in all corners of the state, whether it’s recognizing North Country tourism efforts or applauding Orleans County and state Canal Corp. leaders for marketing fall fishing in Western New York.

64. Kiersten Barnet

Executive Director, New York Jobs CEO Council
Kiersten Barnet / Jinnifer D

Kiersten Barnet has a clear mandate: provide access to high-potential job opportunities to 100,000 low-income New Yorkers, including 25,000 graduates of the City University of New York. Barnet has led the New York Jobs CEO Council, created by 30 executives of major corporations, to get to 29,000 jobs in two years. She recently formed a partnership with several of her member organizations and CUNY in cloud workforce development, starting at Queensborough Community College and with planned growth to the College of Staten Island and Borough of Manhattan Community College.

65. Lindsay Greene

President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.
Lindsay Greene / JC Cancedda Photography

Lindsay Greene operates where economic development, climate and bioscience coincide in New York City. Home to innovative accelerators like Newlab and a wide range of climate tech companies, the Brooklyn Navy Yard continues to serve as one of the city’s premier industrial job hubs with over 550 businesses and 11,000 workers. Greene is charged with shaping the Navy Yard’s next chapter, which will bring an additional 5 million square feet of sustainable, industrial space online. Her predecessor is David Ehrenberg, who is now with Sterling Project Development and is a visiting lecturer at Princeton University.

66. Therese Daly

Interim Executive Director, New York Association for Training and Employment Professionals
Therese Daly / James Pater

Melinda Mack established the New York Association for Training and Employment Professionals as one of New York’s most influential advocates for workforce development. When Mack died from cancer in November, her deputy, Therese Daly, took over as interim leader. In budget testimony this year, Mack praised Gov. Kathy Hochul for creating a new Office of Strategic Workforce Development, but called out a lack of funding for grants to train workers. Daly and the NYATEP team of Adrienne Ceneviva, Megan Farry, Joelle Monaco, Gina Onyiuke and Molly Tocin stepped up to advance NYATEP priorities during Mack’s illness this year, including hosting the organization’s annual October conference, which focused on such issues as the new Micron plant in suburban Syracuse and the future of workforce development.

67. Alane Berkowitz & Jim Somoza

Chief Operating Officer; Managing Director, Industry City

Industry City is deepening its role in New York City’s thriving life sciences industry. The Brooklyn office campus recently inked a deal with American Outcomes Management for almost 14,000 square feet of space in the campus’ biosciences building. Earlier this year, Aanika BioSciences signed a lease for more space at Industry City as it looks to triple its workforce in the next two years. The move came as Aanika received $800,000 from the New York City Economic Development Corp. to create a new food safety and innovation hub in Industry City.

68. Ashley Ranslow

New York State Director, National Federation of Independent Business
Ashley Ranslow / Melissa Stankovich

If anyone in Albany forgets the impact of small business on New York’s economy, Ashley Ranslow is ready to remind them. Ranslow is pushing state leaders to create a climate that is amenable to the needs of – and the further creation of – small businesses. Specifically, Ranslow has asked lawmakers to “do no harm” when they craft economic policy in terms of taxes and regulation.

69. Andrew Kennedy

Executive Vice President, Ostroff Associates
Andrew Kennedy / Elario Photography

Andrew Kennedy has an intricate understanding of how to get stuff done in Albany and in the economic development ecosystem in particular. Prior to joining Ostroff Associates, Kennedy led the Center for Economic Growth, where he focused on economic development projects across the Albany region. A veteran of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Chamber, Kennedy previously served as deputy director of state operations and was an assistant secretary for economic development.

70. Teresa Gonzalez

Partner, Bolton-St. Johns
Teresa Gonzalez / Bolton-St. Johns

Teresa Gonzalez has spent her career focused on growing the New York City economy, particularly in the area of minority- and women-owned businesses and in the arts and cultural sector. A partner at lobbying powerhouse Bolton-St. Johns, Gonzalez works with clients on stakeholder engagement, New York City lobbying and land use. She also co-founded DalyGonzalez, a boutique MWBE government relations firm. Gonzalez held several positions in the administration of then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and leadership roles at a number of prominent arts organizations.

71. Robert Harding

Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Robert Harding / James Poster

Robert Harding’s expertise in economic development and New York City government dates back to well before his current position at a top-five lobbying firm Harding has been in the middle of it all, having served as a New York City deputy mayor for economic development and finance, a role in which he oversaw the city’s economic development policy and strategy. Harding previously served as New York City’s budget director as well, overseeing the development and implementation of the city’s spending plan.

72. Kara Hughes

Founder, KEH Consulting
Kara Hughes / Don Pollard

Kara Hughes understands how government can drive economic development. A former economic development director in Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate office, Hughes has been a key adviser to elected officials and state agencies to grow the New York economy. Now a public affairs consultant, Hughes has played a role in finalizing the agreement for a key component of the John F. Kennedy International Airport redevelopment project. Hughes is also a senior adviser with O’Donnell & Associates.

73. John Harris

Partner, Brown & Weinraub
John Harris / Timothy H. Raab, Northern Photo

For anyone looking to advance a major project in New York with a public finance component, John Harris is someone you’ll want by your side. Harris has used his expertise in public finance to negotiate numerous payments in lieu of taxes agreements and to represent an array of state and local government agencies as a bond counsel. He has represented clients who have sought to work with or receive financing from a number of state entities, including the Office of General Services and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

74. Fernando Gómez-Baquero

Director of Runway and Spinouts, Cornell Tech
Fernando Gómez-Baquero / Provided

The Cornell Tech campus on Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island is celebrated not just as an expansion of Cornell University’s academic footprint, but as a key driver of the tech economy in New York. Fernando Gómez-Baquero is in charge of commercialization of the campus’s research, managing a startup portfolio and the economic impact of Cornell Tech. The runway startup program at Cornell Tech has seen 21 patent applications since 2014, with six patents granted, $66.6 million in angel financing raised for participating startups and 144 employees hired at companies.

75. Lisa Sorin

President, Bronx Chamber of Commerce
Lisa Sorin / Richard Rosario Photography

Lisa Sorin sees that the Bronx is booming, and she wants to keep it that way. Sorin joined other New York City chamber of commerce leaders to endorse Mayor Eric Adams’ City of Yes for Economic Opportunity rezoning proposal, arguing that it will revitalize downtown business districts. Sorin was also supportive of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District in hiring security to cut down on retail theft. Sorin’s influence is not just in the Bronx business community, as she serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board and was on the city’s districting commission.

76. Melva Miller

CEO, Association for a Better New York
Melva Miller / Dezirae Bradley

Melva Miller is committed to a better New York. Miller endorsed expanding New York City’s Fair Fares program of mass transit discounts to a higher income threshold. Miller is a former deputy Queens borough president, a role in which she focused on local economic development. Now, she drives ABNY’s mission as a convener of city leaders. She notes that she has taken steps to make ABNY more inclusive, citing efforts to engage with more small businesses and boost outreach to the Staten Island business community.

77. John Rockland “Rocky” Rhodes

Battalion Commander, U.S. Army New York City Recruiting Battalion
John Rockland “Rocky” Rhodes / U.S. Army

You won’t find Lt. Col. John Rockland “Rocky” Rhodes sprinting up steps to finish a training run like a certain movie boxer, but he is going the distance to show how the Army is a partner in New York’s economic future. The former West Point history professor is forging partnerships with business, education and community leaders to match workforce needs with Army training. One priority is expanding the Partnership for Your Success Program, which connects service members with post-military job opportunities where they can utilize skills developed in the Army.

78. John Wang

President and Founder, Asian American Business Development Center
John Wang / Matt Cohen

John Wang has been focused on ways to promote the work of New York’s Asian American business community and increase the number of Asian Americans in business. Wang has found another way to continue his mission as part of the state’s economic development community, with a seat on the board of Empire State Development. Gov. Kathy Hochul last year nominated Wang to be the first Asian American to serve on the board of the state’s main economic development agency.

79. William Scriber

Executive Director and CEO, Port of Oswego Authority
William Scriber / Port of Oswego Authority

The Port of New York is now the nation’s busiest seaport, but it’s not the only bustling seaport in the state. The Port of Oswego has been enjoying significant growth and investment, with a $513 million impact on the New York economy since 2018. William Scriber, the port’s executive director since 2017, has presided over a nearly 1,000% increase in marine cargo activity. The Port of Oswego is the only international grain export center on the Great Lakes, the region’s second largest aluminum importer and has expanded into handling wind turbine components. 

80. Colleen Heidinger

President, 43North
Colleen Heidinger / 43North

Colleen Heidinger is making Buffalo a top destination for startups. In October, 43North announced the winners of its ninth annual competition. The five selected startups will receive a $1 million investment from 43North and relocate to Buffalo for a year to be based out of 43North’s downtown incubator. This year’s 43North competition included companies from 42 countries and 49 states. And this summer, Empire State Development committed an additional $30 million in funding for 43North’s competition and accelerator program.

81. Mark Eagan

President and CEO, Capital Region Chamber
Mark Eagan / Joan Heffler Photography

Mark Eagan is aiming to expand the Albany-area economy in a number of ways. Eagan’s Capital Region Chamber has created the Accelerating Inclusive Economic Opportunity program, funded by a $500,000 grant from KeyBank, which is working to increase minority-owned businesses in the region along with corporate diversity initiatives. Eagan expressed support for Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady and its economic impact on the region in response to a state comptroller report on casinos.

82. Erik Lium

Chief Commercial Innovation Officer, Mount Sinai Health System
Erik Lium / Mount Sinai Innovation Partners

New York City is continuing to grow the life sciences sector, and Erik Lium is a key leader on this front. Lium leads Mount Sinai Health System’s effort to translate its research and innovation into commercially available health care. An intranasal COVID-19 booster vaccine, developed with technology created at Mount Sinai, recently received a $338 million Project NextGen award from the federal government. Mount Sinai was also part of recent Series A financing for BeeKeeperAI, a new artificial intelligence platform for data security. Lium serves as president of Mount Sinai Innovation Partners and leads Mount Sinai’s health technology incubator.

83. Lloyd Williams

President and CEO, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce

Lloyd Williams has proclaimed that “Harlem is the place to be, Harlem is hot.” The founder of Harlem Week and longtime leader of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Williams is celebrating 125 years of the Chamber and its focus on the arts, culture, restaurants, businesses and residents of Harlem. Williams is touting the new hotels, cultural facilities and restaurants that are making the neighborhood a destination, but also new affordable housing. In February, Williams presided over an anniversary gala celebration.

84. Tom Quinn

CEO, Western New York Impact Investment Fund
Tom Quinn / Provided

Many Buffalonians depart and later move back. Tom Quinn, has used his return to move the region beyond its troubled economic past. His Western New York Impact Investment Fund is a social impact fund seeking to spur the region’s economy and address such matters as workforce development, health care, workforce diversity and the environment. Last year, the fund closed a $12 million Series 2 fund to continue a portfolio that includes technology, food, health and film companies.

85. Patrick J. O’Sullivan Jr.

Partner, Herrick
Patrick J. O’Sullivan Jr. / Herrick

Real estate companies involved in economic development in New York have Patrick O’Sullivan on speed dial. O’Sullivan, a former head of real estate for the New York City Economic Development Corp., has established himself as one of the top real estate attorneys in the region. O’Sullivan’s recent accomplishments include representing Extell Development in a ground lease development in midtown Manhattan, assisting Rechler Equity Partners in the development, financing and leasing of a new Amazon distribution facility in Suffolk County and advising on multiple medical and life sciences projects.

86. Hal McCabe

Executive Director, Cannabis Association of New York
Hal McCabe / Isaf-Merkur Studio

Hal McCabe moved up this year from director of government relations at the Cannabis Association of New York to the top advocate for the industry’s small growers with his appointment as executive director in September. McCabe expressed concern over new regulations that he said were not sufficient in helping New York’s small businesses equitably enter the market as growers. McCabe – who’s also mayor of the village of Homer – has spent much of the year pushing the state to speed up rollout of regulations to help grow the industry.

87. Steven Polivy

Chair, Economic Development and Incentives Practice, Akerman

For a business executive or entrepreneur looking to advance a New York City economic development project with subsidies, abatements or other tax credits, Steven Polivy better be one of your first calls. The high-powered economic development attorney has worked to obtain a package of tax abatements from the New York City Industrial Development Agency for a life sciences center in Queens, to move forward on a battery storage facility in Queens and for the development of a new supermarket and condo complex in Brooklyn.

88. Patrick Sullivan

Special Counsel, Kramer Levin
Patrick Sullivan / David Beyda Studio, NYC

Patrick Sullivan is a go-to legal expert for anyone looking to navigate the zoning and land use laws that govern New York’s housing development. Sullivan has positioned himself as a key thought leader in the area of housing, suggesting that Gov. Kathy Hochul consider the use of single room occupancy spaces to address New York City’s homelessness crisis following the failure of the governor’s housing plan. Sullivan also noted that the debate over the 421-a program and other housing issues was causing uncertainty for lenders.

89. Doug Cotter

CEO, Grant Associates
Doug Cotter / NY Headshots

A national thought leader in the field of workforce development, Doug Cotter works with clients to train workers and connect workers with jobs in their fields. Among the programs offered by Grant Associates are one-stop employment centers, workforce development programs, job placement for people with disabilities and place-based programs for public housing residents. Grant Associates has issued a number of white papers on subjects ranging from the future challenges of workforce development to workforce development trends.

90. Jacques Andre DeGraff

Chair, MBE Leadership Summit
Jacques Andre DeGraff / Celeste Sloman

The Rev. Jacques DeGraff has been a key leader in expanding business opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises in New York. An architect of New York City’s groundbreaking law to expand business and contract opportunities for MWBEs, DeGraff continues to work to expand the economic impact of the community. DeGraff served on New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Process Reform Task Force, which outlined an overhaul of the city’s capital project delivery process.

91. Ken Stewart

President and CEO, NUAIR
Ken Stewart / Beth Stewart

While semiconductors are the hot new thing in Central New York’s economy, Ken Stewart has the drone economy taking flight there too. One of seven Federal Aviation Administration drone test sites in the country, New York’s is the only one based out of an airport. Among the areas that Stewart is focused on is greater use of drones by the state Department of Transportation for bridge inspections, which he said will result in savings that can be invested in roads. New York has so far invested over $30 million in drones.

92. Noa Congers Simons

President and CEO, Upstate Capital Association of New York

Connecting entrepreneurs with investors is a critical part of economic development, and in a region as vast as upstate, the challenge can be tougher. Noa Congers Simons’ Upstate Capital Association of New York serves as a hub to link investors with entrepreneurs across upstate. Simons launched the InvestNY dashboard to facilitate ties within the upstate entrepreneurial ecosystem, hosts group events to foster better connections across the venture capital community and recently secured $765,000 from Empire State Development for the New York Business Plan Competition, a statewide intercollegiate entrepreneurship competition that she coordinates.

93. A.J. Baynes

President and CEO, Amherst Chamber of Commerce

Amherst, with a population of 129,000, is not just Buffalo’s largest suburb, but it’s also the home of the University at Buffalo’s sprawling North Campus and an economic locus in its own right. Amherst Chamber President A.J. Baynes, a former chief of staff to state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, has established himself as a key power player in the Western New York business and political communities. This year, the Amherst Chamber partnered with Erie County and Buffalo State University to launch the WNY Be in Business initiative to support and grow small businesses.

94. Kristin Malek

Global Director of Business Diversity, CDW
Kristin Malek / Victor Powell, Powell Creative Services

Kristin Malek is on a mission to make government procurement more diverse. Malek has said that by awarding major contracts to a more diverse pool of contractors, state and local governments will fulfill a critical mission to spend tax dollars wisely. Malek, a key player at the technology and government services provider CDW, is connecting minority- and women-owned businesses and businesses owned by people with disabilities with governments to play a key economic development role by spurring job creation.

95. Bandhana Katoch

Executive Director, Koffman Southern Tier Incubator

Bandhana Katoch arrived in Binghamton this summer with a mission: to get people to stop thinking about Binghamton as a city with a great past, and instead to envision it as a city with a great future. Katoch’s vision includes developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, focusing local leaders on long-term growth and finding ways to get students to stay in Binghamton to launch their careers. Last year, the Koffman Incubator’s parent, Binghamton University, joined a consortium of inland Northeast universities focused on innovation and economic development.

96. James McKenna

CEO, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism

James McKenna’s tenure touting Lake Placid and the Adirondacks will conclude in April, when the longtime tourism chief retires. McKenna had led the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism for over four decades, representing the former Winter Olympics site at nine Winter Games. Over the summer, McKenna joined U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to promote new rural economic investment in the North Country. In the spring, he welcomed St. Lawrence University President Kathryn Morris as his new co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

97. Harold King

President, Council of Industry

As a top advocate for manufacturing in the Hudson Valley, Harold King has been focused on the future of the semiconductor and technology sectors. King joined first lady Jill Biden at Dutchess Community College this fall to celebrate the institution’s new mechatronics lab, touting it as a way to train the workforce needed for the technology industry. King advised U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the development of the CHIPS Act and how the federal legislation could boost manufacturing in New York, providing input from the semiconductor industry in the Hudson Valley.

98. Joseph McCoy

Market President Commercial Banking, Hudson Valley and Fairfield County, Valley National Bank

Joseph McCoy has no illusions about current economic conditions, saying that businesses are facing “strong headwinds” based on a variety of factors including inflation and high interest rates. At the same time, the banker remains bullish on the Hudson Valley economy, noting the region’s life sciences sector, along with the distribution sector and nonprofits, which he says have potential for growth. A leader in Westchester County’s business community, McCoy encourages small businesses to work closely with the banking sector on finance and growth going forward.

99. Jennifer Tavares

President and CEO, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
Jennifer Tavares / Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

Home to both Cornell University and Ithaca College, Tompkins County is a critical area for entrepreneurship and small-business development in the state. Jennifer Tavares has been key to promoting the efforts of the county’s business community and growing tourism in the Finger Lakes. Tavares was quick to reassure the community that the announcement by BorgWarner of the closing of a division in Lansing was limited in scope and that the local economy remains strong. Tavares also oversees the local tourism agency, which runs the ubiquitous “Ithaca is Gorges” campaign.

100. Ryan Benz

Co-Founder, Redev CNY
Ryan Benz / Provided

Onetime trumpet player Ryan Benz is tooting a different horn as he aims to transform the Syracuse region. Benz's company, Redev CNY, has been responsible for almost $100 million in investment upstate in the last four years and is a part of the team redeveloping the former ShoppingTown Mall in suburban DeWitt into a mixed-use property of retail, residential, office space and entertainment, which he said will become a Central New York destination. Benz previously developed residential projects and the popular Oh My Darling restaurant in downtown Syracuse. Benz and his wife, Leigh Ann, also launched a chain of women’s boutiques in lower Manhattan, Rockland County and northern New Jersey.