Mixed Use is the Best Use

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

This blog post is an “Action Alert” to members and friends of HIA-LI. There is something very simple that you can do to help secure the long-term future of the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.

Between now and June 11, the Town of Smithtown is seeking comments on a proposal to create “overlay zoning” that would permit mixed-use development in a portion of the Park. Approval of this plan is essential to the success of our Park. But it has encountered resistance from some local residents.

So we’re calling upon businesses and citizens to send an email to members of the Smithtown Town Council favoring the change. While messages from Town residents and businesses are best, anyone can comment.

You must send your email by June 11 to be made a part of the public record. Council members’ email addresses appear below.

You can mention all or some of these points:

  • The change would provide young professionals with the opportunity to enjoy the Park for living, working, and recreation.
  • A study by Suffolk County IDA and the Regional Plan Association found an urgent need on Long Island for housing for young professionals. It’s key to attracting and retaining a talented and competitive workforce.
  • A survey of the Park’s business owners found that a number-one concern is attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.
  • A survey showed that 68 percent of our area’s young people are contemplating leaving this area within the next five years. They’d leave behind an aging population incapable of filling local jobs.
  • Rental units are sorely needed on Long Island. The Nassau-Suffolk rental housing market represents just 21 percent of households, compared to nearby suburban regions such as Westchester (35 percent) and Northern New Jersey (37 percent).
  • In the Town of Smithtown, the situation is further exacerbated – only 6.7 percent of households are renter-occupied.
  • The Park’s success is vital to the community’s future. The Park delivers $19.6 million in assessed value to the Town, and provides more than $44 million to the Hauppauge School District. New tax revenue would fully offset any added demands for local services.
  • Some claim the development would burden local schools. That’s inaccurate: it would generate no more than 90 students over a decade. Yet the district lost 110 students within this past year alone.
  • That’s because the apartments would mostly be studio and one-bedroom units geared to singles or couples without children.
  • Added traffic would be sustainable, with only a moderate increase on weekends
  • We urge you to approve an overlay district to allow creation of mixed-use development within the Innovation Park

To help us keep track of support for this zone change, it would be very helpful if you would send a copy of any emails to me at talessi@hia-li.org.

This is important initiative, so please take action today. Thank you!

Please send messages to:
Hon. Ed Wehrheim, Smithtown Supervisor, supervisor@smithtownny.gov
Hon. Tom McCarthy, Smithtown Deputy Supervisor, tmccarthy@smithtownny.gov
Hon. Lynne Nowick, Smithtown Councilperson, lnowick@smithtownny.gov
Hon. Lisa Inzerillo, Smithtown Councilperson, linzerillo@smithtownny.gov
Hon. Tom Lohmann, Snithtown Councilperson, twlohmann@smithtownny.gov

Businesses Battle to Beat COVID-19

Goodbye COVID-19 - CopyThe Long Island business community – many of them HIA-LI members – have rapidly mobilized to help the region fortify its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. As a leading voice in the bi-county business community, we’d like to highlight sixteen companies that have acted rapidly to reformat their operations to address the Coronavirus crisis.

This is not meant to be a complete list; we know dozens more companies have pivoted their operations to produce PPE, medical equipment, and other essential items such as hand sanitizer.  They are all heroes in the fight to defeat COVID-19.

Four of the companies we’d like to spotlight are:

  • East/West Industries, Inc., is an engineering firm in Ronkonkoma that makes aircraft products designed to protect aircrew members. The company modified its operations to produce washable, cloth face masks suitable for use by the Suffolk County Police Department and other first responders.
  • Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc., a leader in the development, manufacture, and commercialization of diagnostic solutions based in Hauppauge, is developing a COVID-19 antibody blood test that was approved by the FDA.
  • 71 Visuals, a branding, design consulting and graphic design firm, pivoted its manufacturing facility in Hauppauge, which normally produces signage, to turn out thousands of face shields daily.
  • Harlan Health Products, Inc., a manufacturer of healthcare products, has modified a factory that normally makes hospital curtains. It now produces washable, cloth face masks.

Our regional business sector is rising to the challenge posed by COVID-19.  These companies are among the many HIA-LI members that are inspiring us all by standing up to protect the health and safety of Long Islanders.

In addition to the four cited above, here are twelve additional companies that have reformatted their operations to help Long Island address COVID-19:

  • BridgeTech LLC, a product development firm located in Huntington Station.
  • Henry Schein, Inc. of Melville, an international distributor of healthcare products.
  • Ignite LI, a regional manufacturing consortium based in Hauppauge.
  • Meglio Corp. a Brentwood-based environment development company specializing in architectural products and design.
  • Restoration 1 of LI, a water damage restoration company with locations in Long Beach, Lindenhurst, and Water Mill.

During the COVID-19 crisis, HIA-LI is serving as a clearinghouse for Coronavirus-related business assistance information for its members, and has partnered with numerous governmental, institutional, and private entities that focus on alleviating the pandemic’s impact on the region.

Rising to the Challenges Ahead

Courage Vs. Fear Bowling Ball Strike Pins BraveryDuring this period of public crisis, HIA-LI recognizes its responsibility to serve as a resource to the Long Island business community. We’ll share vital information that will help all of us weather the difficulties we face – and help keep communications pathways open.

Here are several business-focused resources that are prepared to help your organization get through these difficult times:

The Suffolk County COVID-19 Business Response Task Force

HIA-LI is partnering with the Suffolk County COVID-19 Business Response Task Force, which has asked us to serve as a communication conduit to area firms. In this role, we’ll be passing along useful information related to the virus and its impact on your business. Here are three ways they can assist:

Disaster Relief Lending through the Small Business Administration

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest working capital loans of up to $2 million to small businesses situated in states suffering substantial economic damage arising from COVID-19. You can contact SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center at 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339) or email  disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The SBA’s Long Island Branch Office is in Hauppauge at 631-454-0750. They’re standing by to help our area’s small business sector. This office also houses Long Island’s SCORE Chapter #694 at 631-454-0771 (longisland.score.org).

We also encourage small business owners to contact our area’s two local SBA Resource Partners:

Coronavirus Webinars

HIA-LI will inform the business community of upcoming webinar updates hosted by Northwell Health. We’ll also be directing you to a comprehensive infographics kit of COVID-19 information that’s now under preparation.

And, of course, businesses can contact HIA-LI at 631-543-5355 if you have questions or need assistance.  While we are working remotely, we working as a team and are still here for you!

Let’s be prepared to rise to the challenges ahead. Tap these resources. Stay informed. Stay determined.

And together, we’ll get through this.

Despite Slip, AVZ Survey Says Long Island Economy Is Still Strong

AVZ Economic Summit
Moderator Robert Quarte, Managing Partner, AVZ & Company, P.C., and panelists, from left: Jim Coughlan, Principal, TRITEC Real Estate Co., Inc.; Janine Logan, Sr. Director, Communications & Population Health, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council; Rich Humann, President and CEO, H2M Architects + Engineers; Dr. John Nader, President, Farmingdale State College; and, Kevin O’Connor, President and CEO, BNB Bank.

Long Island business executives feel optimistic about the region’s economic future, as we explored at HIA-LI’s 26th Annual Economic Summit on February 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge. HIA-LI sees this event as critical to helping our members interpret what’s going on here on Long Island.

Based on the annual survey conducted by AVZ & Company, one of Long Island’s largest accounting firms, confidence in the regional economy – which reached a survey record high of 7.2 in 2018 – stood at a healthy 6.8 by the end of 2019. Yet forty-six percent of respondents added employees last year, and 43 percent had “no problem” finding skilled workers.

With AVZ managing partner Bob Quarte keeping the discussion lively and interesting in his role as moderator, a five-member panel sustained the attention of over 250 guests as they delved into issues shaping our region’s economic future.

Jim Coughlan, principal of TRITEC Real Estate, praised IDAs for their powerful contributions to the success of large business development projects. But if State lawmakers begin requiring IDA-supported projects to pay “prevailing wages,” he cautioned, IDAs would lose much of their ability to promote growth.

Rich Humann, president and CEO of H2M Architects + Engineers, praised HIA-LI’s work in building bridges between the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH) and regional universities.

Looking big picture, Kevin O’Connor, president and CEO of BNB Bank, said there’s been an evolution in deal structures over the past fifteen years that should lessen the incidence of “crash and burn” economic cycles.

Janine Logan, Senior Director for Communications and Population Health with the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, seemed unsurprised that the AVZ survey had ranked healthcare as the regional industry with the greatest growth potential.

Why? Well, nearly one-fifth of our population is age 65 or older, she said, and the top, predisposing factor for chronic disease is age.

Dr. John Nader, president of Farmingdale State College, told attendees that many people burdened with college debt had never received diplomas. Instead of two- or four-year degrees, he said that many jobs now call only for “micro-credentials” and certifications. That’s something for us to keep in mind as we develop a proposed LI-IPH workforce development center.

This year’s Economic Summit was stimulating and upbeat and once again served as a very important discussion on the pulse and future trends on Long Island.

Our Solar Task Force Achieves a Clean Energy Milestone

LI Cares Solar Press Conference 1-31-20
Pictured, from left: Scott Maskin, CEO, SUNation Solar Systems; Hon. Thomas Lohman, Councilman, Town of Smithtown; Lisa Broughton, Energy Director, County of Suffolk; Hon. John Flanagan, State Senator and Senate Minority Leader; Joe Campolo, Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP and Chairman, HIA-LI Board of Directors; Robert Boerner, Manager, Renewable Programs, PSEG-Long Island; Terri Alessi-Miceli, President and CEO, HIA-LI; Thomas Falcone, CEO, Long Island Power Authority; and, Paule Pachter, CEO, Long Island Cares.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to lead a company or an organization, you know that your success heavily depends upon the initiative demonstrated by the people around you.

That’s surely the case here within HIA-LI, where we’re fortunate to have forward-looking individuals like Scott Maskin, CEO of SUNation Solar Systems, and Jack Kulka, President of Kulka, LLC, on our team.

Scott and Jack stepped forward a few years ago to launch the HIA-LI Solar Task Force. And with the help of Task Force members Edgewise EnergyEntersolarHarvest PowerEmpower SolarTop Cat ConsultingH2M Engineering, and Greenstreet Power Partners, they set the ambitious goal of transforming the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH) into a business park that will be 100-percent powered by clean and renewable energy by 2040.

And on January 31 – with the encouragement of HIA-LI Board of Directors chairman Joe Campolo – the Task Force achieved a big milestone when they announced completion of a solar installation atop the 35,000 square-foot roof of Long Island Cares, one of our region’s premiere charitable institutions.

Joining us at the press event were Smithtown Councilman Thomas Lohman; County of Suffolk Energy Director Lisa Broughton; State Senator John Flanagan; PSEG-Long Island Renewable Programs Manager Robert Boerner; and, Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone.

Based on PSEG Long Island data, we’ll reap major environmental benefits thanks to the 350,000 kilowatt hours produced annually by Long Island Cares’ 852 solar panels.

By replacing fossil fuel energy with clean and renewable power, we’ll reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 84 metric tons per year. That’s equivalent to Long Islanders’ driving 191,975 fewer miles per year – and it generates the same benefits as planting 560 trees per year.

But chief executive Paule Pachter and his team at Long Island Cares didn’t stop there. By structuring their project as a “Community Solar” enterprise, the electricity is being offloaded to the homes of 50 food-insecure families at a discounted rate that is 25 percent less than regular utility bills.

Scott Maskin and Jack Kulka keep reminding us that there are 1,300 companies and a potential 20 million square feet of flat rooftop space available for solar at LI-IPH.

So let’s follow the lead of Long Island Cares – and keep turning our business park into Long Island’s great solar power oasis!

Working with Government from a Regional Perspective

Annual Meeting and Legislative Reception 1-17-20
From left: Joe Campolo, Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP and Chairman, HIA-LI Board of Directors; Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim; Islip Town IDA Executive Director Bill Mannix; Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick; State Senator John Flanagan; County Executive Steve Bellone; and, Congressman Lee Zeldin.

To maintain Long Island’s economic competitiveness for the long run, the public sector needs to maintain a rich dialogue with the private sector.

That’s why HIA-LI takes pride in hosting forums where business and government come together to exchange ideas and to highlight the region’s centers of economic development opportunity.

A classic example was the 42nd HIA-LI Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast held January 17 at the Radisson Hotel in Hauppauge.

Attended by more than 350 representatives of Long Island’s business community, our high-octane panel of public officials included Congressman Lee Zeldin, State Senator John Flanagan, Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, and Bill Mannix, Executive Director of the Islip Town IDA.

Moderator Joe Campolo, Managing Partner of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP and Chairman of HIA-LI’s Board of Directors, emphasized the large percentage of businesses at the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge engaged in value-added “tradeable” sectors exporting goods and services out of the region.

The Park’s “tradeability” ratio ranks “20 percent above the national average” for similar business clusters.

Congressman Zeldin praised Brookhaven National Lab for securing a $2-billion federal award to build an Electron Ion Collider, a project will “inject billions of dollars and an extensive number of jobs into Long Island’s economy.”

Senator Flanagan said his focus in Albany this year would be to “maximize education funding, capital investments such as roads and bridges, and increase funding for the LIRR via the MTA.”

State government must do more to relieve fiscal burdens on localities, said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, by curtailing its “cost-shifting” practices.

County Executive Bellone highlighted the Nicolls Road Corridor’s role as a platform for the revitalization of Patchogue, the forthcoming Ronkonkoma Hub, new growth at Long Island MacArthur Airport, and the ever-expanding Stony Brook University.

The Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge is on a multi-track growth trajectory, said Supervisor Wehrheim, because state, county, and town governments have “put politics aside” and built consensus on success strategies for the Park.

Sewer expansion is key to Suffolk County’s economic growth, said Bill Mannix, citing a recent $10-million state grant to the Town of Islip to extend sewer lines into downtown communities.

As HIA-LI members spend each day focused on growing our own individual enterprises, we also understand the importance of viewing our work within a regional perspective. As evidenced by our Legislative Breakfast, Long Island is fortunate to be represented by elected officials who also understand the value of long-term regional growth.

CAN WOMEN LEAD THE WAY?

Women's Panel 2019
Joining me in this photo are, from left: Joanna Austin, Publisher and Executive Vice President, Long Island Press/Schneps Media; Domenique Camacho-Moran, Partner, Farrel Fritz, PC; Rebecca O’Connell, Managing Director and Region Head, Chase Bank; Carolyn Mazzenga, Office Managing Partner, Marcum, LLP; and, Kristen Jarnagin, President and CEO, Discover Long Island.

In 2010, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recommended that HIA-LI create a regular forum where female business leaders could mentor one another – and explore strategies for success.

In response, we inaugurated our annual “Women Leading the Way” Executive Breakfast. And on November 22 – with some 200 guests present – HIA-LI held our Ninth Annual Executive Breakfast at Hauppauge’s Stonebridge Country Club. Our panel was skillfully moderated by Domenique Camacho-Moran, partner at the Farrell Fritz law firm.

Women already own more than ten million companies nationwide employing more than 13 million people – generating more than $1.9 trillion in sales.

In 2018, 24 Fortune 500 firms had female CEOs. In 2019 that figure had reached 33. So while things are trending in the right direction, there’s still a long way to go.

What guidance did our blue-ribbon panel of female Long Island executives provide?

Rebecca O’Connell, managing director at JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s Long Island headquarters in Melville, described her bottom-up approach to leadership.

“I like to define success as building leaders, not gaining followers,” O’Connell said. “And driving forward in a team capacity.”

Long Island Press publisher Joanna Austin urged audience members to act as energizers and motivators.

“Aim to bring in energy and a positive vibe,” she said. “Try to infuse energy into every single task, no matter how mundane.”

Carolyn Mazzenga, office managing partner at the Marcum accounting firm in Melville, told attendees that advancement comes by taking action.  Not by simply “hoping” for recognition and promotions.

“We have a saying,” she said. “Hope is not a strategy.”

The CEO of our region’s tourism promotion agency, Kristen Jarnagin of Discover Long Island, also stressed action over words.

“People love to talk about things,” she told event guests. “So what are we going to do about it? That’s how you execute.”

As I offer HIA-LI’s huge “thank you” to Domenique and our terrific panelists, I’d like to close with some business advice that cuts across both genders.

As I’ve mentioned before, a businessman told me something early in my career. He said that race, age, and gender shouldn’t be a primary driver of hiring and promoting decisions.

He said to look for “strength of character and conviction – and how big your heart is.”

I’d like to wish you and yours best wishes for the holiday season and health and happiness in the new year.

Companies Want to See “Talent in Action”

Small business border“You know what bosses like even more than employees who get their work done? Employees who don’t even have to be told what to do, because they’ll create value on their own accord,” says Eric Talbot, Strategic Account Manager at National Business Capital & Services in Bohemia.  That was his advice to young people – particularly Millennials and Generation Zs – who are a growing part of today’s emerging workforce.

“Customer service is not a department – it’s an attitude,” added Gregg Pajak, President and Founder of the WizdomOne Group in Islandia.  “Service is about making things easier and saving people time and money. Experience is about making things memorable and engaging and creating a desire to linger.

“The best experiences,” Pajak adds, “are those you wish would last forever.”

These were just two pieces of sage advice that was part of an HIA-LI Small Business Task Force Open Forum titled, “Is There a Difference Between the Generations?” held on November 7 at Simplay in Hauppauge.  Moderated by Rev. Joseph Garofalo, Outreach Pastor at Island Christian Church, the panel included five distinguished business leaders: Gary Barello, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. in Shirley; Scott Maskin, CEO and Co-Founder at SuNation Solar Systems, Inc. in Ronkonkoma; Teresa Ferraro, President of East/West Industries Inc. in Ronkonkoma; along with Talbot and Pajak.

Panelists were asked to provide their thoughts on a range of topics including meeting deadlines, employee initiative, work-life balance, and performance reviews.

According to Gary Barello, while there are differences in the way generations view the workplace, “employers have to be careful not to generalize.  We have to avoid stereotyping by closing our eyes when a new person joins our team and say, ‘what does this person have to offer?’”

Barello added, “Just like ethnicity and gender, business leaders like us need to avoid labeling – we need to give each person the opportunity to show who they are.”

“Each scenario is case by case,” added Talbot.  “You never know what someone has going on right outside the office.”  However, if someone was consistently submitting projects and reports exactly at deadline with no time to spare, it would “raise some red flags” and question whether the employee could “handle the responsibility of bigger projects with tighter deadlines.”

Pajak added that younger employees need to take initiative and show management how they can build teamwork and impact the bottom line.  “Companies don’t want sculptures of talent,” he said. “They want to see the talent in action.”

These Open Forums are a direct result of feedback from our membership, 80 percent of which are small businesses, a figure which mirrors the overall Long Island business community.  We understand that small businesses have their own set of unique challenges, and discussions over the years centered on how our organization could provide better guidance and support for these companies.  One result was the institution of these Small Business Task Force Open Forums, now in its third year.

A special thanks, as always, to Rita DiStefano, Chair of the Small Business Task Force and Director of HR Consulting at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl and Associates, Inc. in Jericho and her task force members who work tirelessly to bring progressive, relevant programming to our membership.

Finally, stay tuned for future Small Business Task Force Open Forums, complimentary to HIA-LI members.

Bi-Partisan Public-Private Cooperation Propels Long Island’s Economic Growth

2019 Leg Recep Collage

On October 29th the HIA-LI once again gathered for our Annual Board Legislative Breakfast with the goal of reviewing our current initiatives and asking for continued support from our officials.

“Long Island is not only a national treasure, but we’re also a national model for how business and government should partner.”

When HIA-LI Chair Joe Campolo said this to the gathering his words rang true for me – and I think for just about every business executive and government official in the room.

Yes, there’s always going to be some disagreement between public officials and businesspeople. We won’t always see eye-to-eye.

But in Nassau and Suffolk counties, the relationship has been supported by a spirit of cooperation. Indeed, our own Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH) could never have become America’s second-largest innovation park – trailing only Silicon Valley itself – without the kind of cooperation we are talking about.

We were privileged to be joined by Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and Councilman Tom Lohmann; Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter; Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory; Suffolk County Legislators Robert Calarco, Sarah Anker, Bill Lindsay, Susan Berland and Rob Trotta; State Senator John Flanagan; State Assembly Members Michael Fitzpatrick and Steve Stern; and Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri. Their presence helped to reinforce the symbiosis shared by the private and public sectors on Long Island.

All of LI-IPH’s past milestones – the childcare center, extra police protection, the exit off the Northern State Parkway, sewage improvements, and increases in permissible building height – required bi-partisan public sector cooperation.

Joe Campolo – Managing Partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP – praised the Suffolk County IDA for helping scores of our members firms expand – and for underwriting the LI-IPH’s 160-page “Opportunity Analysis” that charts a long-term economic revitalization strategy by fostering the growth of competitive, tradeable industries.

Rita DiStefano, HR Consulting Director with Portnoy Messinger Pearl & Associates – who chairs HIA-LI’s Small Business Task Force – told attendees that she recognizes government’s role in supporting small firms, which constitute four-fifths of our membership. Public sector engagement is critical in such areas as financial assistance for business, and workforce training and development.

And Scott Maskin – the CEO of SUNation and Co-Chair of HIA-LI’s Hauppauge Industrial Power Project with HIA-LI Lifetime Board Member Jack Kulka told attendees about the goal of placing solar installations on park rooftops by the end of 2020, helping to meet the Governor’s NY-SUN target of 100 percent renewables by 2040.

HIA-LI proudly facilitates public-private cooperation at all levels with the help of HIA-LI Board Members carrying out our initiatives. It’s a partnership that’s essential to Long Island’s future.