Longtime ECIDA chief set to retire at year-end
By JAMES FINK
[email protected] | 716-541-1611
Al Culliton, who has run the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for the last six years and spent 21 years with the agency, has confirmed that he will retire at the end of the year.
Culliton, 70, has been chief operating officer and acting CEO since 2007.
"I feel it's the right time," he said. "I've had a very rewarding 21-year ECIDA career and I'm proud of our accomplishments, particularly in the venture-capital arena and in enhancing our small-business and micro-lending capacity, especially for minority businesses."
The announcement marks the second time in the last month that a key economic development leader announced a retirement. Andrew Rudnick, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO, announced he will retire June 30.
ECIDA officials have not determined how they will replace Culliton or how the search process will take place.
He said he would like to keep a hand in the venture-capital sector, including being active in Launch NY, the WNY Venture Association and Buffalo Angels.
Culliton joined the ECIDA in 1992 as chief lending officer and added the title of president of Niagara Region Certified Development Corp. in 2001. He was chief financial officer/treasurer of the IDA from 2003 to 2009, and for the past six years has been both COO and acting CEO.
Under Culliton, the ECIDA assisted a variety of projects with total investment exceeding $3.4 billion. He oversaw creation of and manages an innovative public-sector venture investment fund targeting early-stage entrepreneurial companies in Erie County. The fund has invested more than $8 million in 34 local companies. Cash return to ECIDA exceeds $11 million to date.
He also has been involved in Launch New York, a venture-development organization covering 26 counties in Upstate New York.
During his tenure, Culliton and the IDA's affiliate lending company have made 596 loans for more than $100 million; established a loan program with local commercial lenders; participated in the SBA Micro Lending program; and launched a minority entrepreneur loan/scholarship program.
Before joining the IDA, he spent 14 years as a bank commercial lender and manager at JPMorganChase and M&T Bank. He also served six years as chief financial officer for several distribution companies, and several years in secondary education.
He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Fordham University and an MBA from Canisius College.
He is on the board of the New York State Economic Development Council and recently was elected vice chair. He also is a board member of Empire State Certified Development Corp., Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board, First Wave Technologies, and Western Region Corp.
Culliton was named 2011 Economic Developer of the Year by the state Economic Development Council.