Especially at the local level, you can’t underestimate the importance of the relationship between business and government.
We see it all the time at HIA-LI, where our ability to meet the day-to-day needs of our members – and to achieve our long-term goals – depends upon the quality of our interactions with local municipalities.
The large majority of the Hauppauge Industrial Park (HIP) is situated within the Town of Smithtown, with the balance in the Town of Islip. Happily, we enjoy vigorous support from the elected leaders of both towns.
I recently was privileged to join one of these two officials, Supervisor Wehrheim, as a guest on Smithtown Spotlight, on Channel 18 in Smithtown, which is scheduled to air in April 2019.
During the interview, he repeatedly underscored the value of the Town of Smithtown’s partnership relationship with the HIA-LI and the Park.
“From ‘day one,’ we realized how important the Hauppauge Industrial Park is to the sustainability of Smithtown itself,” the Supervisor – elected in November 2017 – said. “There’s a great opportunity for us to partner, and we went full steam ahead to make sure that this happened in this administration.”
Living up to his commitment, for example, Supervisor Wehrheim has been a regular presence at HIP Task Force meetings and activities, where we are devising ways to maximize growth and competitiveness. Institutional participants include Stony Brook University, the Suffolk County IDA, and the Regional Plan Association.
In the past, the Town had done much road reconstruction work associated with the County’s sewer expansion in the Park. I was very pleased to learn that the Supervisor budgeted for several much-needed infrastructure projects including widening Adams Avenue, improving New Highway, upgrading traffic signals, adding new sidewalks, and removing outdated-looking wooden poles. And going forward, future capital improvements, he said, would be budgeted in on an annual basis.
“Even though it is infrastructure work,” he said, “these are all things that will aesthetically make the park very pleasing to business people when they come in to look at it.”
In 2018, Smithtown gave the green light to 740,000 square feet of commercial development in the Park.
Zoning changes have boosted building height limits from 35 feet to 62 feet high along Motor Parkway, with the future prospect of higher structures more deeply into the park.
“New height requirements are going to bring more high-tech businesses to the Park,” he said.
The Supervisor and I also discussed our HIP re-branding initiative which includes a possible name change for Park. We also talked about potential zoning changes to allow residential development within the HIP.
Supervisor Wehrheim offered some concrete evidence of the Park’s fiscal value for the Town:
“We just received a Triple-A bond rating from Moody’s, the highest level that can be attained,” he said.
Moody’s cited HIP’s value in evaluating the Town’s creditworthiness, as well as Smithtown’s “partner” relationship with the Park.
With some 55,000 employees, HIP represents some $19.6 million in total tax assessed value and generates about $14 billion in annual sales.
“I see great, great things happening in the future, for the Park and for Smithtown as a whole,” said Supervisor Wehrheim. “And working with Terri has been a pleasure. It’s a great relationship to specifically accomplish great things.
“As a partnership, we’ve really stirred up some real interest and I think it’s going to continue,” he said. “At least I’m going to put all my efforts into making that happen.”