Northampton taps New York native for top economic development post
Terrence "Terry" Masterson Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — An economic development expert with two decades of experience, including a lengthy stint in the New York City suburb of Westchester County, has been tapped to lead the city’s economic development efforts.
Terrence J. Masterson, 54, called Northampton a “highly impressive place” during an introductory press conference Tuesday, saying he’s excited to get started.
“I look forward to this opportunity very, very much,” said Masterson, who will leave his position as executive director of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency in Cayuga County north of Ithaca, N.Y.
Masterson, in the city this week to search for a new home, is expected to start the $62,000-a-year position the first week of December, Mayor David J. Narkewicz said.
Masterson becomes the city’s first economic development director since Narkewicz reorganized several departments at the start of the fiscal year, re-creating the city-funded position under the mayor’s office as it had been a few years ago. The city has not had an economic development expert on staff since Teri Anderson left at the start of the year.
Narkewicz said about two dozen local, regional and national candidates applied for the position. That list was whittled to two finalists with the help of a screening committee.
Narkewicz said he was impressed with Masterson’s economic development experience in regions similar to Northampton and the Valley and his ability to work with people with a range of interests.
“I think he also has a skill set and ... an ability to communicate with people about these issues, which I think will serve him and serve the city of Northampton very well,” Narkewicz said.
Masterson, who goes by Terry, will work closely with the city’s new 12-member Economic Development Advisory Commission. The commission is charged with refocusing the city’s economic development efforts to retain and attract business, as well as advising the mayor on economic development policies and strategies that will create a supportive and competitive business environment, market the city and enhance communication with the business community.
Masterson comes to Northampton after 2½ years as the first executive director of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency. In that role, he helped the agency complete Cayuga’s first strategic plan for economic development since 1999. The plan included six core recommendations supported by more than 40 steps.
Though he is a lifelong resident of New York state, Masterson said he comes to this region frequently to visit relatives and friends.
He said Northampton and the Valley have many assets working in their favor, from tourism to a strong retail and small business environment and academic institutions. He also stressed the area’s quality of life and intellectual capital, which he said drive “all kinds” of investment in real estate, business growth and jobs.
Prior to the position in Cayuga County, Masterson’s worked in economic development for New York’s Westchester County from 1989 to 2010. While there, he served in elected and appointed roles within the Village of Irvington, N.Y.
Those positions included a four-year stint as the first executive director of the Westchester Partnership for Economic Development, a public-private agency established to provide economic development services in Westchester County.
Narkewicz said he was impressed with Masterson’s ability to create and lead regional alliances that successfully completed many economic development initiatives. Among those were “Team Westchester,” a group of state, county and local professionals that focused on business retention and relocation projects.
In the early 1990s, Masterson was a founding member of “Team Hudson Valley,” a regional alliance designed to market the Hudson Valley as a premier business location.
“I love working with people. I love municipal affairs,” Masterson said. “It’s been a part of my life for a long, long time, and bringing people together has always been a common theme in my job.”
Narkewicz said he believes Masterson can have similar success in Northampton, which has seen plenty of momentum on the commercial side in recent months at Village Hill Northampton, several spots on King Street, at the Three County Fairgrounds and more.
“I feel like we have a lot of great momentum in Northampton right now in this area of economic development,” Narkewicz said. “Part of the reason I’ve been moving forward with this position is to make sure we keep that momentum going, we build on it and bring some of these projects through to fruition.”
Masterson, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from Pace University, also worked for three large private companies in the pension and benefits administration fields.