ESD prez who orchestrated Amazon LIC deal steps down

Howard Zemsky was a driving force behind the failed Amazon deal
May 03, 2019 10:30AM

Former New York Economic Czar Howard Zemsky and Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

Former New York Economic Czar Howard Zemsky and Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on the hunt for a new Empire State Development Corporation president.

Howard Zemsky, who has been the state’s economic czar since 2015, will step down but stay on as chairman of the board, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Zemsky was a driving force behind the Amazon deal that would have brought the company’s second headquarters to Queens, which fizzled on Valentine’s Day this year. After the deal fell through, Cuomo blamed politicians including Senator Gianaris, but Zemsky has been more restrained in pointing fingers, although he said he was extremely disappointed at the deal’s failure at a February 21 board meeting.

Before heading the ESD, Zemsky was the co-chairman of another of Cuomo’s appointed advisory groups, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. He previously was the managing partner of Larkin Development Group in Buffalo.

During Zemsky’s time at the ESD, the advisory group renegotiated deals originally made by the scandal-plagued Alain Kayoleros through the nonprofit arm of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Kayoleros and other construction executives were convicted on fraud charges in 2016 for steering bids on $855 million in state contracts to Cuomo contributors. Cuomo is now said to be looking for an individual with private sector experience. [WSJ] — Georgia Kromrei