Governor Cuomo Announces Industry Leaders Participating In Upcoming Trade Mission to Cuba

April 19, 2015

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that leaders from business and higher education will be joining New York's trade mission to Cuba – the first Governor-led state trade mission to Cuba since President Obama began the process to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The trade mission delegation will depart on April 20, 2015.

“The representatives in New York's delegation will help ensure Empire State companies are at the front of the line as the door opens to a market that has been closed to U.S. enterprise for over half a century.” Governor Cuomo said. “These industry leaders will serve as ambassadors for all that New York State has to offer and will help form the foundation for a strong economic relationship between New York and Cuba as legal restrictions on trade are eased in the future.”

In addition to the below industry leaders, the delegation is joined by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader and Coalition Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein.

Howard Zemsky, President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development, said, “New York State will lead a series of economic development trade missions that will strengthen existing trade relationships and create new ones. These trade missions will increase visibility for New York State and help New York businesses expand their global footprint.”

The Governor’s trade mission includes representatives from a variety of industries, including air travel, health care, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, agriculture and higher education. Specifically joining the Governor’s trade mission is:

Air Travel – JetBlue and the Plattsburgh International Airport

Headquartered in Long Island City with more than 6,000 New York-based jobs, JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline™, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Orlando, and San Juan. JetBlue carries more than 32 million customers a year to 87 cities in the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of 875 daily flights. JetBlue will be represented on the trade mission by Robin Hayes, CEO; and James G. Hnat, EVP General Counsel & Governmental Affairs.

The Plattsburgh International Airport is an important regional transportation hub in Upstate New York. The airport is represented by Garry Douglas, President and CEO of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Douglas also serves as co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

Financial Services – MasterCard

MasterCard is a technology company in the global payments industry that operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s New York headquarters are in Purchase, and the company has approximately 1,500 New York-based employees. They will be represented by Walt M. Macnee, Vice Chair, MasterCard.

Health/Biotech/Pharma–NY Genome Center, Pfizer, Regeneron and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute

The NY Genome Center is an independent, nonprofit at the forefront of transforming biomedical research and clinical care with the mission of saving lives. As a consortium of renowned academic, medical and industry leaders across the globe, NYGC focuses on translating genomic research into clinical solutions for serious disease. The Center will be represented on the trade mission by Dr. Robert Darnell, CEO; and Carol Ashe, Chief Business Officer.

Pfizer, one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, employs more than 4,600 people in New York State. Pfizer’s global headquarters are based in Manhattan, and the company also has a vaccines and biologics research site in Rockland County, NY. Pfizer will be represented on the trade mission by its Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D.

Regeneron is a leading science-based biopharmaceutical company based in Tarrytown, with approximately 2,500 employees that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions. Regeneron will be represented on the trade mission by CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute will be represented on the trade mission by CEO Dr. Candace Johnson, as well as Department of Immunology Chair Dr. Kelvin Lee.

Technology – Infor

Infor specializes in enterprise software applications for a variety of industries, including health care, with headquarters in Manhattan and approximately 12,700 total employees. Infor will be represented on the trade mission by Charles Phillips, CEO; and Steve Fanning, VP Healthcare Industry Strategy.

Agriculture – Cayuga Milk Ingredients and Chobani

Cayuga Milk Ingredients began in 2012 as a farmer-owned dairy company located in the Finger Lakes region. Formed from the vision of a small group of farmers, CMI offers locally produced, high-quality, and specialized dairy ingredients. The company’s family-owned farms include several multi-generational farmers, some of whose farms date back over 150 years. The company is headquartered in Auburn and will be represented by CEO Kevin Ellis.

Chobani was founded in upstate New York in 2005 by Hamdi Ulukaya, who launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in 2007. Less than six years later, it has become the No.1-selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than a billion dollars in annual sales – making Chobani one of the fastest-growing companies in history. The company is headquartered in Norwich and has approximately 6,000 in-state employees. CEO Mr. Ulukaya will be representing Chobani on the trade mission.

Higher Education – The State University of New York system (SUNY), the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, has helped transform New York State into a world leader in higher education. SUNY educates more than 450,000 students in more than 7,500 academic programs at 64 campuses across New York State. SUNY Chancellor Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher and Dr. Jose F. Buscaglia-Salgado, Director of Caribbean, Latin American, and Latino Studies for the University at Buffalo, will be representing SUNY.

This trade mission is part of Global NY, an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2014. The Global NY trade mission to Cuba will be the first of several trade mission destinations, including Canada, China, Israel and Mexico. With offices in New York, Canada, China, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, Global NY has on-the-ground experts around the world creating new business opportunities for New York State. In addition, the Governor recently unveiled, a one-stop shop for trade and investment and a $35 million Global NY Development Fund which will soon provide loans and grants to help small- and medium-sized New York businesses export abroad.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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