Former state Business Council CEO Kenneth Adams will remain at the helm of a restructured Empire State Development (ESD) agency this year, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to “gut the place” to have it function “like a business” to attract and keep companies in New York, according to a recent published report from Albany.
Officials at ESD and the governor’s office, though, have kept mum on the substance of the Dec. 31 report by longtime Albany political reporter Frederic U. Dicker in the New York Post. Neither office would comment on the reported shake-up when contacted by the Business Journal.
Dicker quoted an anonymous senior Cuomo administration official who described Empire State Development as “disjointed, dysfunctional – and nobody really is sure on the inside who is responsible for what.”
“ESDC has not even branded itself properly,” the Cuomo official was further quoted. “For many people, ESDC means nothing.”
For others, it could mean a number of things, given its confusion of names and corporate and operating entities.
ESD – state officials in recent years dropped “corporation” from its title and shortened the agency acronym in press releases – is an umbrella organization that includes the state Urban Development Corp., Job Development Authority, Science and Technology Foundation and Department of Economic Development. ESD also is parent corporation for nine subsidiary economic development corporations across the state.
The multiple titles apply as well to ESD’s head, Adams, the former president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, whom Cuomo recruited to public service when taking office two years ago. Adams is president and CEO of ESD and commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.
Adams reportedly helped develop the reorganization plan that Cuomo on Jan. 22 will present to the state Legislature in his executive budget.
The agency reportedly will be divided into five units, each of which will be overseen by an executive vice president. They are: business attraction; public policy and strategic planning; tourism; overseas exports and international trade; and small businesses.
That organizational structure would not be entirely new. ESD currently operates a small business division and an international division, with foreign offices in London, Israel and South Africa, that provides export counseling and education to New York state manufacturers and services firms looking to tap global markets. Its division of marketing, branding and tourism is responsible for the long-running “I Love New York” campaign and includes the Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development. ESD also includes a minority- and women-owned business development division.
Cuomo apparently plans to bring a measure of diplomatic star power to the effort to develop export markets for the state’s businesses. The Post reported that James P. “Jamie” Rubin, former chief spokesman at the State Department in the Clinton administration and that administration’s telegenic public face in international crises and articulator of foreign policy, will be named executive vice president for exports and international trade at ESD.
In an administrative restructuring, each of the agency’s five units reportedly would be headed by an executive vice president.
Cuomo in November 2011 appointed Rubin as counselor for competiveness and international affairs at ESD and nominated him to the board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a post he has held since last June.
“The idea is to get ESDC to function like a business, to look like a business and to think like a business with its general purpose being to bring companies to the state of New York and retain the companies we have now,” the anonymous Cuomo administration official was quoted in the Post.
Another anonymous administration official described Cuomo’s planned renovations to the unwieldy Empire State Development edifice in real estate terms: “What the governor wants to do with ESDC is gut the place.”