Small Business Task Force Tackles Character

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Rita DiStefano moderates the panel at HIA-LI’s November 1 Small Business Task Force Open Forum.

There were some important take-aways from last week’s Small Business Task Force Open Forum, “Hitting the Mark: Character, Competence, and Chemistry that Create Effective Culture.”

  • First, these forums are critical to educating small and mid-sized business owners – who account for 80 percent of HIA-LI members – with best practices from other companies and organizations who have gone through the growing pains that they are likely going through.
  • Second, before anything else, character is critical. You want to surround yourself with employees who have the values, work ethic, and dedication needed for success.
  • Third, when interviewing potential employees, ask questions that help bring out character. Questions such as: Where have you volunteered?  What is your life mantra?

My sincere thanks to Task Force Chair Rita DiStefano, Director of Human Resource Consulting for Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates, for another successful and well-attended forum, which was held at Simplay Entertainment.  Rita, along with Task Force members Sue Gubing, Joe Garofalo, Allan Lippolis, Elana Zolfo, and AnnMarie Scheidt put together a sterling lineup of panelists:

Because small businesses don’t often have the bandwidth and staff found at larger organizations, HIA-LI’s Small Business Task Force was created to boost engagement with Long Island’s small business community.  It does that by listening to their needs and addressing issues with concrete, proven solutions.

Since its inception the Task Force has identified three major areas that small businesses find challenging:

  1. Personnel: Finding, training, and retaining talented employees.
  2. Business Development: Creating new and innovative revenue streams.
  3. Financing: Gaining access to capital in order to have adequate funds to grow.

To address these concerns, the Small Business Task Force began holding Open Forums with the goal of providing continuous support and information for members. Previous topics have covered how to attract and retain the millennial workforce, how to create a positive and attractive work culture, how to be a leader, and more.  The Task Force will continue to support businesses, address their concerns, and find solutions.

Rooftops Provide Solar Opportunities

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Pictured at a recent HIA-LI Solar Initiative Town Hall Meeting are, from left: Scott Maskin, President, SUNation Solar Systems, and HIA-LI Solar Initiative Co-Chair; Terri Alessi-Miceli, President & CEO, HIA-LI, and Joe Campolo, Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, and HIA-LI Board Chair.

What do you do when you have 20 million square feet of unused rooftops?

Go solar!

And why not?

  • There would be no negative environmental impact from trees having to be cut.
  • It would supply low-cost electricity for HIP businesses as well as to low and moderate income residential customers.
  • It would generate 50-100 construction jobs created during the build-out period as well as $40 million in total construction revenue.
  • And it would produce an estimated $4 million in annual payments to building owners in the Park.

That’s why HIA-LI’s Energy, Utilities, and Infrastructure Committee formed the HIP Solar Initiative.  This cooperative initiative will provide economies of scale previously unattainable and going solar will allow building owners to take advantage of substantial economic benefits.

As stated by Lifetime Board Member Jack Kulka, Chair of HIA-LI Energy, Utilities, and Infrastructure Committee, “The HIP Solar Initiative provides the unique opportunity to various businesses in the HIP to upgrade their aging roofs while concurrently installing state of the art solar systems at substantially discounted costs.”

According to Michael Voltz, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables for PSEG Long Island, PSEG encourages businesses to consider installing solar because it’s clean, renewable energy that helps reduce energy costs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.

“The Hauppauge Industrial Park has vast roof area and vast untapped solar potential. Through this innovative program, the HIP has the potential to become a national leader in renewable energy while keeping Long Island dollars at home, said HIA-LI Board Member Scott Maskin, CEO of SUNation Solar Systems.  “It’s exciting to play a part in fortifying the PSEG grid, while delivering economic benefits to HIP building owners, tenants, and local residential ratepayers. It’s a win-win all around.”

The project would also differentiate the HIP as a leader in distributed energy generation in the United States.  It would also help to achieve Governor Cuomo’s initiative to have 50 percent renewable energy in New York State by 2030.

This is yet another example of how HIA-LI – formed 40 years ago with a prime directive in making the HIP the finest concentrated working environment on Long Island – is always on the lookout for ways to enhance members’ opportunities to positively impact their bottom line.

Building owners interested in participating in the program can learn more here.

Working Closely with our Government Partners

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From left: Hon. Phil Boyle, State Senator; Terri Alessi-Miceli, President & C.E.O., HIA-LI; Hon. Lee Zeldin, Congressman; Hon. Michael Fitzpatrick, State Assemblyman; Jack Kulka, Lifetime Board Member, HIA-LI; and, Joe Campolo, Board Chair, HIA-LI.

HIA-LI has always prided itself on having outstanding relationships with government officials. Many of our elected and appointed leaders have supported the HIA-LI throughout the years and at critical times have been just a phone call away.  That is something we, and our members, very much appreciate.

It has resulted in numerous projects and improvements such as:

  • A new highway exit off the Northern State Parkway.
  • Securing a COPE patrol vehicle dedicated to the Hauppauge Industrial Park through the Suffolk County Police Department.
  • Establishing the first childcare center in an industrial park on Long Island.
  • Obtaining a $600,000 transportation grant from former Congressman Steve Israel to look at egress and digress in the Park.
  • Establishment of an overlay district that allows for increased building height.
  • Expansion of the Park’s sewerage project.

All of this and more has happened because of our strong relationship with government officials.

On October 19, 2018, we took another important step in our advocacy and partnership with local and regional public officials by hosting a Board Legislative Breakfast where more than two dozen elected leaders and their representatives attended.  HIA-LI understands the importance of communicating our members’ concerns to governmental leaders and the benefits of working with them in a collaborative manner to find solutions.

At the October 19 breakfast, Joe Campolo, Board Chair and Managing Partner of Campolo, Middleton and McCormick LLP, reviewed the proactive work being done in the Hauppauge Industrial Park and the “Opportunity Analysis” that this is being conducted to help identify ways that the Park’s economic power can be channeled to maximize its contribution to Long Island’s long-term growth and competitiveness.

Scott Maskin, HIA-LI Board Member and Co-Founder of SUNation Solar spoke about the progressive work being done with our Solar Initiative.  There are 20 million square feet of unused rooftops that can be utilized as a solar asset, helping to lower energy costs for businesses while increasing the quality of our environment.

Rita DiStefano, HIA-LI Board Member and HR Consultant for Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl spoke about the urgency to continue helping small businesses via our Small Business Task Force. Since more than 80 percent of HIA-LI member companies are considered small to midsize businesses, this is another critical step for us. We realize that small business doesn’t have the bandwidth that larger companies have and the open forums this task force has created can help them lead and grow their organizations.

HIA-LI continues to be a catalyst for change, and I feel blessed to be leading an organization that has not only has its heart and footprint in the Hauppauge Industrial Park but across this bi-county region.

Celebrate, Honor, and Flourish

Over 24 years ago we had a vision to recognize excellence in Long Island business, and the HIA-LI Business Achievement Awards were born.

It is more critical today than ever before that we highlight this HIA-LI business growth initiative and celebrate and honor these Long Island businesses, particularly in light of so many businesses being courted off of Long Island by other communities.

We here at HIA-LI are committed to doing everything in our power to keep Long Island businesses here and to keep them flourishing.

The recipients of the Business Achievement Awards were judged in four categories; Large, Small, Rookie of the Year, and Not-for-Profits.

All companies in each category were judged on their accomplishments, positive employee relations, giving back to the Long Island community, revenue and profitability trends, and their overall innovation in business strategy.

Often, our member companies will ask, “What is the secret to success for these companies?” Well, there doesn’t seem to be a secret.  Because regardless of the industry, they all seem to have several things in common:

  • They are optimistic about the future.
  • They have good people in place and know how to celebrate them.
  • They are focused, particularly in this economy, on the development of their good people and on streamlining – doing things differently to make their company more effective.
  • They realize that if they are not constantly doing things better and more effectively, they can lose out in this economy to someone who is!

Lee Iacocca once said, “The most successful businesspeople are the ones who hold onto the old just as long as it’s good and grab onto the new just as soon as it’s better.”

Our Business Achievement Award recipients are great examples of that type of passion and commitment in a very competitive business environment.

These are the 2018 HIA-LI Business Achievement Award recipients who were honored on September 20th at the Crest Hollow Country Club:

Welcome to my Blog!

bizgrowshere2Hello, and welcome to the inaugural post of my new blog!

This blog is aimed at serving as a resource for the Long Island business community. It’s a place for dialog – and a place to explore new ways to promote economic growth and business expansion.

I want it to be a dynamic platform for sharing ideas, information, and strategies for business success and for economic development across Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Along with our Island-wide interests, we’ll also be focusing attention on the Hauppauge Industrial Park, America’s second-largest business park and a vibrant economic engine for Long Island and the nation.

As many of you know, HIA-LI proudly stands as one of the most recognized voices for Long Island business. For four decades we’ve been a powerful advocate for regional development. We boost economic expansion by providing lively forums for business leaders to network, tackle problems, and gain guidance on critical issues facing their enterprises.

One of HIA-LI’s guiding principles is to remember that we are all in this together. This is a group effort, right down the line.

And considering the many challenges regional business executives face today, we’ll need to put all of our heads together to overcome them.

How do we retain younger residents – keep government responsive to business concerns — promote sustainability — train our workforce – maintain our digital edge –– and address other challenges?

Through dialog and discussion, and by tapping everyone’s best ideas, we’ll be in the best-possible position to come up with answers – and to secure a healthy, long-term future for Long Island – and for the Hauppauge Industrial Park, too.

This blog is devoted to dialog, interaction, debate, and discussion. This is a two-way vehicle, and we’ll be looking to you for your comments and feedback – for your input and ideas.

Paraphrasing a John Lennon lyric, “There’s no problems, only solutions.”

So let’s come together — and leverage this blog as a tool for identifying effective solutions to our business challenges!