Orange County IDA CEO resigns amid board shake up

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NEW WINDSOR – Laurie Villasuso, the chief executive officer of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, has resigned.

“I have enjoyed my nearly 10 years in service to the IDA, and am deeply proud of the work I have done for the economic development of Orange County,” she said Monday, “However, in light of the recent change of direction at the IDA, and uncertainty surrounding my role within the present makeup of the organization, I have decided to resign from my position as the CEO of the Orange County IDA.”

Laurie Villasuso

Villasuso had risen through the ranks to the top job at the IDA, and with Vincent Cozzolino, president of the Gallileo group, which oversaw the agency, was credited with creating the Accelerator program, which has seen startup companies in incubator settings in New Windsor, Newburgh, Middletown, Warwick, and most recently, the incubator in Highland Falls.

Cozzolino and Villasuso are credited with bringing the cannabis sector to the Warwick Technology Park at the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility property in Warwick. Just last week, the new IDA board approved financial incentives for Fiorello Pharmaceuticals to develop a $155 million cannabis farm, manufacturing and distribution center there, bringing with it initially 125 jobs.

Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton credited the former team with making the tech park a reality.

“Quite frankly we wouldn’t be where we are on the precipice of big job creation in Warwick and Orange County without the IDA’s help and Laurie’s leadership. I wish her well and am sorry to see her leave,” he said.

Just weeks ago, the county legislature voted to fire all of the IDA board members at the time and appoint new ones.

Since then, Michael Torelli, the business development director at New York Stewart International Airport, was chosen by fellow new board members to be chairman of the IDA board and last week, the board appointed County Economic Development Director Bill Fioravanti as a non-salaried consultant to oversee the staff of the IDA.

The previous IDA board has been accused of withholding financial information to the county legislature, which prompted the firing of the old board and an investigation by the district attorney’s office.