Alfred Culliton, who has led the Erie County Industrial Development Agency since 2006, will retire at the end of this year.

Culliton serves as chief operating officer and acting chief executive officer of the ECIDA. He was honored as the 2011 Economic Developer of the Year by the New York State Economic Development Council.

“The loss of his finance and economic development knowledge will be very hard to replace,” said John LaFalce, the ECIDA’s chairman, in a statement. “I am very pleased that he has agreed to stay on during the transition to new leadership.”

Culliton said in a statement he felt it was the “right time” to retire. He said he was particularly proud of the ECIDA’s accomplishments in venture capital and supporting all business and micro-lending capacity, especially for minority businesses, during his time at the agency.

Culliton said that after his retirement, he wants to stay involved with venture capital through Launch NY, the Western New York Venture Association and the Buffalo Angels.

The ECIDA said it expects to make decisions about the search for Culliton’s successor over the next few months.

Culliton joined the ECIDA and its affiliates in 1992 as chief lending officer. He was promoted to the ECIDA’s chief financial officer/treasurer in 2003 and retained that title through 2009.

When Charles Webb resigned as the ECIDA’s president, CEO and executive director in late 2006, Culliton was part of a three-person management team that took Webb’s place in running the agency.