After an odyssey of a search process, the state’s top development agency has finally filled a top position, with the state on Tuesday announcing that Peter Davidson, former owner of El Diario/La Prensa and chairman of the non-profit JM Kaplan Fund, will be the Empire State Development Corporation’s new executive director.
Mr. Davidson, who founded a media group that runs numerous Spanish language radio stations, will come in as the No. 2 to the (nominated) chairman of the agency, Dennis Mullen. The ESDC oversees such large-scale projects as Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Mr. Davidson comes from a business background—he never has held a job in government, though he’s worked with it through the Kaplan Fund, according to a copy of his résumé—and would seem to bring a downstate voice to an agency that is run by an upstater (Mr. Mullen used to run a Rochester business group).
The ESDC has had a bumpy past few years: it was rocked by infighting—both between upstate and downstate factions, and among downstate leaders—during the Spitzer administration, and more internal fighting during the Paterson administration under different leadership. Since Mr. Spitzer resigned in March 2008, five of ESDC’s top officials have left, including two who came in under Governor Paterson.
The agency has been looking for someone to oversee the major projects for more than a year.