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Cuomo searches for new economic chief

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The Cuomo administration is shaking up its economic development programs - but so far, not the boss at Empire State Development.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking for a new economic development boss as he gears up to bring jobs back to the Empire State. In the past, the head of Empire State Development (ESD) would have been crucial for taking on that task. But now that's not certain.

The current head of ESD, Dennis Mullen, told the Innovation Trail back in December that he's not planning to return to the post in the Cuomo administration.

“My plans are clear. I have respectfully declined to move forward. Although I had a fabulous time, I’ve learned a tremendous amount. But it’s been two-and-a-half years, and I have withdrawn my name from consideration to go forward. I’m exploring opportunities on a personal basis to go back to the private sector,” Mullen said.

But Mullen is still on the job. Why? It could have something to do with what the New York Daily News is reporting today:

Cuomo has reached out to several business bigwigs to gauge interest but has been rebuffed, sources said. Capitol watchdogs note that Cuomo's elected predecessors, Democrat Eliot Spitzer and Republican George Pataki, named their chief economic guru before even taking office.

According to the paper, Cuomo aids say changes are in the works for the agency. Lt. Governor Robert Duffy will take responsibility for job creation initiatives, and Empire State Development will have a reduced role. Duffy is in charge of newly created regional councils (10 in all) to spur economic growth across the state.

The paper also reports that Albany insiders believe the administration is having a hard time finding Mullen’s replacement. But until there's a new sheriff in town, Mullen's staying on.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.