Barry F. Sullivan is having the time of his life.
Mr. Sullivan, the former chairman and chief executive officer of First Chicago Corp., is two months into the job of deputy mayor for economic development and finance in New York City.
The post brought him back to his hometown, where he made his mark as a senior executive at Chase Manhattan Corp. before departing for First Chicago in 1980.
He is responsible for trying to keep existing business in New York and luring new companies to the city. He is also one member of the troika that manages the city's municipal bond issues.
Judging by his mood, government work agrees with him.
"It's much broader than a single private-sector job," he said in a recent interview. "As important as the First Chicago job is, the scope here is much wider.
"It's the most interesting job I've ever done."
Mr. Sullivan is involved in issues ranging from New York City's sanctions against South Africa to plans for keeping manufacturing jobs in the Big Apple.
Still, he hasn't left bankstyle work behind entirely.
When he is trying to persuade companies to stay in New York, there are echoes of the kinds of negotiations he used to engage in.
"The retention part of my job . . . is really dealmaking and dealmaking is very much at the heart of corporate banking," he said.
And Mr. Sullivan is acutely aware of the importance of banks to New York's economy. Already, he has been out to visit a number of bankers, and he plans to visit more as he tries to decide how the city can be most helpful to them - and vice versa.
Right now, he's in J.P. Morgan's discussions with the New York and American stock exchanges about their moving into new quarters on the site of a Morgan building.
Job Tide Ebbing
Mr. Sullivan doesn't expect commercial banks to provide much job growth in New York City anytime soon.
He declined to discuss specific companies' plans, but Bank-America Corp. is reportedly discussing moving some offices out to New Jersey. And New York institutions such as Citicorp and Chemical Banking Corp. are cutting thousands of workers from their payrolls.
"Shrinkage is not an issue that the city can do a lot about," Mr. Sullivan said.
Attractions of the Big Apple
Still, he thinks New York presents special advantages as a headquarters city, and he's prepared to trumpet his ideas.
"Banking in New York has got some very interesting long-term potential," he said.
For one thing, it's big retail market, with 18 million consumers in the region.
"One the wholesale side it's the leading financial center in the world. That's a terrific natural advantage."
On his summer agenda: an economic development program. Mr. Sullivan hopes to present a broad plan to Mayor David Dinkins this month.
Already, the City Council and the mayor have agreed on a seven-year industrial-commercial incentive program, which they pitched to state legislators in Albany.
A Seasoned Civic Booster
Though new to New York City government, Mr. Sullivan has an impressive resume in economic development. His civic posts have included service on Chicago's Economic Development Commission; directorship of the Chicago World's Fair Authority; co-chairmanship of Chicago United, a business coalition aimed at improving race relations; and the vice chairmanship of the Civic Committee of Chicago.
Mr. Sullivan was born in the Bronx, but he and his wife now live in Manhattan. Three of his five children live in the area as well. He jogs regularly in his East Side neighborhood.