Monday June 7, 2010

ESD Head Formulates ‘Go-To-Market’ Strategy

Dennis Mullen takes aim at reviving New York
By Lou Sorendo

    The head of the state’s most powerful economic development engine has a four-pronged approach to revive a sagging state fiscal environment.

    Dennis M. Mullen of Pittsford was recently confirmed by the State Senate as chairman and CEO of Empire State Development Corporation. He also serves as the commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development.

    Mullen once served as president and chief executive officer of Birds Eye Foods, Inc. from 1998 to 2005. Birds Eye Foods has a manufacturing facility in Fulton.

    It is Mullen’s belief that ESD must be run like a business, and this approach has helped shape the organization’s four-part “go-to-market” strategy that will allow it to secure economic sustainability for New York state.

    “Having spent most of my career in the private sector industry, working within multi-billion dollar businesses, I believe I am able to bring a new perspective to the agency,” Mullen said. “I look at our work and mission from the perspective of a CEO, figuring out what has to be accomplished to ensure a return to our stakeholders—the taxpayers of New York state.”

    “I’ve always said that I look at the taxpayers’ dollars as my own. I will not put a taxpayer dollar into a project or business that I wouldn’t put my own dollar into,” he said.

    “I recognize that a CEO needs to be both a cheerleader and traffic cop. As a business, we work on our customer service—we always give an answer, even if the answer is no,” he said. “We work to build a solid, brand equity and continue to develop our market share. Finally, our metric of measurement isn’t based solely on jobs, but also includes capital investment as well.”

    Mullen said the Central New York region boasts a wealth of resources and assets that make it an extremely attractive place to do business.

    He noted the strength of Central New York lies in its diverse economy, with sectors ranging from healthcare to education, advanced manufacturing, financial services and transportation.

    “The region is also becoming a leader in the area of clean tech, which holds incredible promise for the future,” he said. “The area’s regional workforce is 20 percent more educated than the national average and is consistently rated as one of the most productive nationally.”

    Mullen said the Central New York region has some of the brightest minds and the best universities, as well as superb research and development facilities.

    Developing a game plan

    Mullen said he knows that economic development plays a key role in the state’s economic recovery.

    “We created a plan we believe is tight and focused,” he said. “It concentrates on both job development and capital investment, which we know are equally important.”

    The ESD’s go-to-market strategy is a balanced approach centered around four key pillars:

    • Partnering with business and academic leadership so government isn’t working alone

    • Supporting “New Economy” job growth and capital investment

    • Maintaining core competency in manufacturing

    • Providing access to capital for small business 

    “We have worked hard to establish and grow strong relationships with the state’s business and academic community,” he said. “With their support and assistance we are identifying innovative and exciting opportunities to support job creation and capital investment.”

    Mullen said ESD has proposed an incentive strategy that aims to reward companies for anchoring their businesses and creating jobs in New York state, one that is focused on the growth and expansion of the high tech and clean energy jobs of tomorrow, but that also supports the manufacturing sector that remains the backbone of the Upstate economy.

    Manufacturing a legacy

    “We are focused on revitalizing the traditional manufacturing sector and our proposed ‘Manufacturing Legacy Program’ would repurpose vacant unused manufacturing facilities, using them to create quality products and support products of the ‘New Economy,’” he said.

    “And finally, we are working to provide better access to capital for small businesses, which are at the heart of our economy,” he added.

    The ESD’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund is geared to help small businesses bridge the cash crunch and provide them with the security they need to focus on running their businesses, he noted.

    “We have already made some progress in stopping the leaky bucket and retaining jobs,” he said. “This strategy will now help New York state create jobs and remain competitive in the global marketplace by building on our state’s core strengths, as well as investing in new opportunities and emerging fields.”

    ESD has many “tools” in its toolbox to help businesses wishing to locate or expand in New York, whether it’s an international company looking to make a move or a small business owner wanting to access capital, Mullen said.

    “We offer loans, grants and tax credits, as well as other financing and technical assistance to support businesses of all sizes and needs and encourage their growth within New York state,” he said. “We believe our resources and incentives are competitive with many other states and we are adding to our toolbox with our proposed programs going forward.”

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 161

Issue 161
April/May 2019

Cover Story


Kristin Bullard

On The Job

What Do You Do to Retain Your Best Employees?

Success Stories

Lindsey Aggregates

My Turn

Newspaper: An Industry in Crisis


News Briefs on Local Businesses & Business People

Economic Trends

Programs that Facilitate Region’s Business Development and Growth

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Kateri Spinella