New York Gov. David Paterson last week nominated a banking compliance officer and a businessman to the leadership of the Empire State Development Corp.

Marisa Lago, global head of compliance for the markets and banking division of Citi, was nominated to serve as president and chief executive officer of the ESDC. Dennis Mullen, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc., was nominated to be president of the corporation upstate. Greater Rochester Enterprise is a nonprofit organization that promotes business and economic development in the Rochester area. Both will begin on Sept. 15.

The appointments continue a restructuring of the agency that Paterson undertook when he became governor in March following former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation.

Spitzer created the position of an upstate chairman and downstate chairman which observers said had been a source of confusion. Paterson consolidated the dual chairmanship into a single position with the appointment of ESDC chairman Robert Wilmers in June.

Wilmers said that his role as chairman would be more strategic in nature than it had been for past chairmen and that Lago would oversee day-to-day operations and economic development issues throughout the state, while Mullen would oversee upstate offices and projects.

"We want the most efficient way of saving money and creating the revitalization of our upstate economy," Paterson said. "We're going to have to keep New York City as the financial capital of the world. We're going to have to grow small businesses all over the state and make them solid."

Paterson said he expected the new ESDC leadership to streamline bureaucratic procedures at the corporation.

Prior to joining Citi in 2001, Lago worked as the director of international affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also worked as the chief economic development officer of Boston in the mid-1990s and was general counsel to the New York City Economic Development Corp. and vice president of legal affairs at the New York City Industrial Development Agency from 1990 to 1994. Lago earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1982 and an undergraduate degree in physics from Cooper Union. Lago's appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Lago and Wilmers will work together to find a new downstate ESDC president.

Mullen worked in the food industry for nearly three decades, most recently at the Rochester-based Birds Eye Foods where he was president and CEO from 1995 to 2005. He was also president and CEO of Globe Products Cos., Nalley's Fine Foods, and Comstock Foods.

Mullen earned his bachelor's degree in education from St. Leo University in Florida. Mullen's appointment is subject to approval by the Upstate ESDC board of directors.

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