Governor Cuomo Announces New Executive Vice President for Start-Up NY Program

October 21, 2013

From the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.


Leslie Whatley to Lead Groundbreaking Initiative Designed to Attract Businesses and Create Jobs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Leslie Whatley has been appointed as Executive Vice President for the START-UP NY program. Her appointment builds on the progress made in implementing this groundbreaking initiative created by Governor Cuomo to jumpstart the Upstate economy by attracting businesses, drawing new private sector investment and creating jobs.

“START-UP NY is the most ambitious economic program New York has employed in years to attract businesses, start-ups, and new investment from across the world and I am pleased to welcome Leslie Whatley to the START-UP team,” said Governor Cuomo. “Leslie's expertise in real estate and business development will be key to implementing this game-changing economic development initiative as we begin bringing in new businesses and creating new jobs through new tax free zones across our state.”

As Executive Vice President, Ms. Whatley will work with Empire State Development (ESD) and other public and private entities and organizations in leading and managing all aspects of the Start-Up NY program. This includes the development and implementation of up to 120 million square feet of tax free areas associated with SUNY, CUNY, community and private college campuses. Ms. Whatley will be employed by the SUNY Research Foundation, but ESD will be responsible for half of her annual salary.

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo announced the START-UP NY initiative to attract private businesses and corporate investments to campuses across the State by offering the opportunity to operate tax-free while also partnering with the world-class higher education institutions in New York.

“I am excited to take on this new role, and partner with ESD and our esteemed colleagues in New York's academic institutions to transform the way we do business here in New York State,” said Ms. Whatley. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo's vision and focus on job creation, we are leveraging the assets New York State has in our colleges and universities to drive economic growth across the state, and in particular Upstate. I am honored to be a part of this initiative that will no doubt serve as a model across the country.”

Ms. Whatley has had an accomplished career in Real Estate prior to joining New York State as the Executive Vice President of the Start-Up NY program. Most recently she served as Global Head of Corporate Real Estate at Morgan Stanley. Prior to that she was the Global Head of Corporate Real Estate at JPMorgan Chase, and earlier in her career she held several leadership positions in GM's Real Estate staff. She has served as the Chairman of the Board of CoreNet Global, the global real estate association, and is currently a member of the Executive Board of the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. Ms. Whatley earned her Masters in Business from the University of Michigan and her Masters in Corporate Real Estate from CoreNet Global.



About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 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 opportunity, visit

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