Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) today announced its president, Thomas P. Dee, will retire on June 29, 2018.  As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, ECHDC is tasked with revitalizing Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbor areas and restoring economic growth to Western New York.  Under Mr. Dee’s leadership, the once blighted rust belt waterfront was transformed into the new front door of Buffalo, garnering attention from expats home for the holidays to celebrities like Katie Couric to the New York Times.  See a photograph of Mr. Dee here.

“My time spent at ECHDC has been the most challenging and most rewarding period of my life,” said Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Thomas P. Dee.  “I believe that history will judge that the transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront has exceeded all expectations and will prove to be a major turning point in our city’s rich history.  I am proud to have made such a significant contribution to my hometown.”

“Tom was instrumental in shaping a vision for our waterfront at Canalside and the Outer Harbor,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “He saw the potential for transforming our water’s edge when many thought it was not possible. Most importantly, his work over the years shaped downtown Buffalo and our waterfront into a prime destination for both tourists and residents. I wish Tom all the best as he retires after many years of incredible leadership.”

Mr. Dee was tapped to lead ECHDC in 2009 after a productive career at CannonDesign, a Buffalo-based global architecture firm.  He led the transformational development, design and construction of Canalside through placemaking, programming, incremental improvements and capital projects. New York State’s infrastructure investment of $70 million to create Canalside, including Liberty Hound, the East Canal, The Ice at Canalside (the largest outdoor ice skating rink in New York State), the Connecting Terminal grain elevator lighting and the historic Central Wharf extension, has paved the way for more than $500 million in private development in the surrounding area.  More recently, Mr. Dee has been overseeing the Outer Harbor’s redevelopment and was instrumental in the design of the new Ohio Street corridor.  Today, an estimated 1.5 million visit Canalside and 250,000 people visit the Outer Harbor each year.

“Tom has been a dedicated and valuable leader for the ECHDC team, as well as our community, and I am proud to have worked with him to advance our waterfront,” saidErie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia.  “Before Tom took on the role of president of ECHDC, the people of Buffalo could not even imagine the potential of their waterfront – but Tom did, and he worked tirelessly to champion that waterfront, transforming it into a world-class tourism destination.  On behalf of the millions of people who will continue to enjoy our waterfront, we say ‘Thank you, Tom!’  I wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors.”

“Tom has played an integral role in revitalizing our waterfront and building momentum for the future of Buffalo,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky.  “The renewed spirit and optimism of this community is a testament to his commitment and dedication to Buffalo.”

As a native Buffalonian, Mr. Dee shares all Western New Yorker’s love and pride for the waterfront.  He counts the success of Canalside as a highlight of his 40-plus year career.  Among Mr. Dee’s greatest accomplishments, he cites:

  • Restoring pride in our spectacular waterfront.
  • Providing equitable and inclusive access to the water’s edge.
  • Installing confidence in economic development from the private sector.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and I’m confident my colleagues and the leaders at Empire State Development can guide the process forward,” continued Dee.  “It’s been an honor to serve New York State and I want to thank Governor Cuomo for providing me with the opportunity to make such a meaningful difference.”

Mr. Dee is committed to a full and proper transition for his to-be-named successor.  No decision on a replacement has been made at this time.

Prior to his work at ECHDC, Mr. Dee was employed by CannonDesign for 28 years, working his way up from chief estimator to the position of Principal, Director of Construction Services.  He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and his MBA from the University at Buffalo.

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