WCA, HVEDC Call Off Pending Merger Deal

John Jordan | June 2019

Pictured earlier this year when the two organizations announced their intent to merge were, from left HVEDC Board Chairman Robert J. Levine, Esq., HVEDC CEO Mike Oates, WCA President and CEO William M. Mooney, Jr., WCA Vice President Amy J. Allen, and WCA Managing Director, Operations & Events Julia Emrick.

POUGHKEEPSIE—The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. and the Westchester County Association have called off their merger deal.

The two business organizations, which had announced in late January their intent to merge, have mutually decided not to pursue the merger that was to be finalized this September. The HVEDC is a regional economic development organization based in Poughkeepsie serving seven counties in the Hudson Valley. The White Plains-based WCA on the other hand is a major Westchester County business advocacy organization.

News of the failed deal was first revealed by HVEDC Chairman Robert J. Levine, Esq., who in a June 21st letter to HVEDC supporters reported that the HVEDC Board of Directors had voted that day to rescind its intent to merge with the WCA.

“This is a difficult decision made after significant exploration of the governance structures of the organizations and the needs of the region,” Levine said. “At this point, we believe that we can better serve the region as an independent organization.”

“It is important to note that the HVEDC Board of Directors made its decision to rescind its intent to merge with WCA because it did not want to compromise the mission of our organization,” Levine continued. “HVEDC serves as one voice for all seven counties in the Hudson Valley and will continue representing all of our members.”

The two organizations first announced a plan for the two groups to form strategic partnerships last October to grow certain industry sectors such as healthcare and real estate, expand on each other’s workforce development initiatives and close the digital divide through programs that promote gigabit-speed broadband connectivity.

Those efforts led HVEDC and the WCA to announce in January an intent to merge. William M. Mooney, Jr., the current president and CEO of the WCA, was to retire in September and stay on in a consultancy role with the new organization. Mooney was to be replaced as the head of the organization by current HVEDC President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Oates.

WCA Chairman William Harrington, released a statement the same day in response to the HVEDC announcement, citing differences in business philosophies that arose during the period of due diligence as the reason behind the failed merger deal. Harrington said that the WCA was moving ahead with the search for a new CEO, “which we aim to be in place by late fall.”

Mooney told Real Estate In-Depth that he plans to retire in September, although he expects to stay on in a consultancy role for some time thereafter. He said he expects the WCA to name a new CEO by September.

“Although the WCA and HVEDC share a common vision and mission to attract new business and innovation in our region, the nuts and bolts of integrating the two organizations became increasingly difficult with the differences in business philosophies,” Harrington said in a prepared statement. “We continue to have great respect for HVEDC’s leadership and remain committed to working together on issues of mutual importance.”

He continued, “For nearly 70 years, the WCA has been the leading independent voice of Westchester’s business community, developing and advancing proactive policies and initiatives that foster smart growth and economic vitality in the region. The WCA represents the foremost professionals in real estate, healthcare, finance and banking, hospitality, technology, and professional services; as well as municipalities, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education—supporting their objectives through direct advocacy and original programming.

HVEDC’s Oates could not be reached for comment at press time.

On June 25, HVEDC reported the addition of the organization Access: Supports for Living Inc. to its Advisory Board. Access will be represented on the board by Ron Colavito and Amy Anderson-Winchell, LCSW.

Colavito joined Access in 2003 as a cost accountant. In January 2018, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer, the fifth person to hold that title in the agency’s 56-year history. Since joining Access, Colavito has led significant growth and improvement in performance across the entire agency, with a particular focus on business intelligence and implementation of data-driven solutions. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the New York Integrated Network (NYIN) IPA Board of Directors, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for both the NY Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation and Meaningful NY.

Anderson-Winchell has been with Access since 1982, and currently serves as the organization’s president.

Since Oates took on the role of president and CEO of HVEDC a year ago, the organization has added more than 30 investors from across the region over the last year alone, which represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue annually. Oates previously served as HVEDC’s President and CEO from 2009 to 2013.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth