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Business advocate to lead public economic development agency

By Rick Karlin

January 28, 2011

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday nominated a veteran business advocate as CEO and president of the Empire State Development Corp., New York's main economic development organization.

In naming Kenneth Adams, the president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State, Cuomo tapped one of the state's most prominent voices for reducing the tax and regulatory burden, as well as someone credited with pumping new life into the Business Council.

Supporters say Adams has also demonstrated an ability to work with a wide range of groups, including labor organizations.

Adams and AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, for example, worked together at the start of the Spitzer administration to help update and streamline the state's Workers' Compensation laws.

Adams, who declined comment Thursday, also brought the Business Council to a new level of political involvement last fall, when the group for the first time made endorsements in state political races. He helped get the almost 3,000-member Business Council to endorse Cuomo and several legislative candidates...

Adams has recently been serving on the board of the Committee to Save NY, an organization of high-powered business and civic leaders that is promoting Cuomo's agenda.

Amid concerns about their connections to the governor, the group earlier this year agreed to register as a lobbying organization. Adams will relinquish his board seat when he joins the ESDC, according to the executive branch...

And while unions have frequently been on the other side of business groups on several issues -- from the push for family leave to property tax caps -- representatives of labor groups generally had little criticism of Adams.

One exception was Allison Duwe, executive director at the Coalition for Economic Justice, which has criticized business tax breaks and supports an expansion of workers rights. She said appointing an economic developer like Adams is "business as usual" at the Capitol.

Adams' nomination must be approved by the state Senate, although it is expected to pass.

To read the full article, visit the Albany Times Union.