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No timeline set for finding Zemsky’s successor as ESD leader

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

Howard Zemsky, who has served as president and CEO of Empire State Development (ESD) for four years, plans to step down from that role. He will remain chairman of the state’s primary economic-development agency, ESD confirmed to CNYBJ in an email message. As ESD’s top official, Zemsky’s trips to the Syracuse area included remarks at the November 2018 announcement (seen in this photo) that crews had completed the major renovation project at Syracuse Hancock International Airport. (ERIC REINHARDT / BJNN)

Empire State Development (ESD) doesn’t yet have a timeline for finding the successor to Howard Zemsky, ESD’s president and CEO, who has indicated that he plans to step down from that role. 

Zemsky will remain in the president/CEO role until ESD finds his replacement, an ESD spokesman told CNYBJ in a May 7 phone conversation. Zemsky will also assist in the search.

When ESD finds Zemsky’s successor, he plans to remain chairman of the ESD board of directors, the spokesman noted.

Reports of Zemsky’s plans started surfacing the night of May 2, although ESD didn’t issue an official statement about it.

In his role, Zemsky has been the top official of New York’s primary economic-development organization. Nominated and confirmed to the post in early 2015, Zemsky has traveled the state to speak at various project announcements with state funding awards involved. 

Those projects included the major renovation effort at Syracuse Hancock International Airport that crews completed back in early November.

He had previously served as co-chair of Western New York’s regional economic-development council (REDC).

Zemsky spoke at the CenterState CEO annual meeting on April 2, 2015, representing one of his first speaking engagements after starting his new role as ESD president and CEO. 

In his remarks that day, Zemsky explained why he accepted the ESD role. 

“I have a great respect for [Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s] completely decentralized strategic collaborative approach to economic development. It’s 180 degrees different and better from the way New York state did it forever,” Zemsky said.

Zemsky was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, and attended Michigan State University.

He’s lived in Buffalo for nearly 40 years.

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