Rising Westchester Professionals to Watch in 2013: Mike Oates

The Bridge Builder

Mike Oates signed on as president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC) in 2009, when the region and nation were knee-deep in the Great Recession. Despite enormous challenges, and thanks to a critical ability to communicate his vision and inspire collaboration, Oates is executing the corporation’s mission of creating jobs in the Hudson Valley by supporting the region’s most pioneering and promising growth industries in innovative ways.

“When the Hudson Valley’s economy was truly sputtering along the bottom, and many economic development initiatives were on life support, Mike Oates convinced HVEDC’s board of directors to invest heavily in marketing the area by promoting regional industry clusters,” says Westchester County Director of Economic Development Laurence Gottlieb. “The ‘Choose NY Hudson Valley’ program, which used social media and other innovative web-based technologies to promote our region as a destination for businesses, was the platform from which HVEDC successfully launched two historic economic development initiatives—NY BioHud Valley and the Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance.”

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Launched in February with more than 50 founding members, the Food & Beverage Alliance encourages food and beverage companies in the region to work together on common issues, aids them in marketing their products throughout the United States, and helps attract jobs and investment to our region. The alliance adds new member organizations weekly. Meanwhille, NY BioHud Valley, established in 2010 and now nearly 90-members strong, is the largest concentration of biotech companies in New York State. Working with partners at the county, state, and federal levels, it promotes the growing cluster of biotech/pharmaceutical/life science companies located in the Hudson Valley that provide employment opportunities to the region’s exceptionally well-educated workforce.

Oates credits private/public cooperation for the success of these initiatives. While everyone agrees that collaboration is key, many give him a lot of the credit. “Mike Oates is the go-to person to connect businesses with the resources available to them—both public and private sector,” says Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester. “His keen sense of capacity building for business and his entrepreneurial skills have created a vibrant new economy in the Hudson Valley.” Rob Levine, partner at Cuddy & Feder, agrees. “Mike is one of those rare people who simply knows how to get things done.”

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