Despite Challenges, the Long Island and National Economies Are Set to Grow

It was wonderful to be back in person at the HIA-LI Economic Summit. On March 25, business leaders, colleagues, and friends joined us at the Radisson in Hauppauge for our 28th Annual Summit, where a panel of experts offered their economic predictions for Long Island and the country.

Dr. Don Levy, Director at Sienna College Research Institute, summarized the results of the PKF O’Connor Davies 2022 Economic Survey. Among the 270 CEOs who participated, 59 percent said that the economy on Long Island was better than it was a year ago, and 61 percent expected improvement during 2022. Within their industries, 50 percent described conditions as more favorable than they were last year, and 56 percent anticipated an upswing in 2022. Normalized against historic data, these four results indicate a confidence rating of 6.8 out of 10, up from 6.5 a year ago.

Challenges include the continuing impact of COVID (cited by 55 percent of CEOs), inflation (53 percent), and rising supplier costs (43 percent). Worker supply is another: “Only one out of five say that they can find the people they need to step in and make a fruitful contribution right away,” remarked Levy.

Bob Quarte, a Partner at PKF O’Connor Davies who is also HIA-LI Board Treasurer, moderated the panel discussion. Noting the challenges that have arisen since the completion of the survey in early January — the war in Ukraine, a stock market correction, rising interest rates, and spiraling gas prices — he asked the panelists to describe their confidence in the economy and in their business sectors.

“As businesses get busier, healthcare gets busier,” stated Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, President and CEO of Catholic Health Services. “I don’t just mean sick care. I mean well care, and that includes important screenings, keeping you healthy, getting ahead of you having a problem that causes more of an impact. I believe we’re moving forward in the right direction. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to have blips along the way, but I’m optimistic.”

Rich Humann, President and CEO of H2M Architects + Engineers and HIA-LI Board Chair, said that despite the national energy strategy that “continues to tip on a scale,” he is also optimistic. “As we recover, the commitment to infrastructure, the commitment to dollars, is coming from the federal government. Although there’s clearly an inflationary effect of that, nothing moves us in a strong economic direction more than a really robust investment in infrastructure.”

The national economy will do well in the long term, predicted Kevin O’Connor, CEO of Dime Community Bank and HIA-LI Board Secretary, but it will experience blips in the short term. “The Fed’s ability to navigate a soft landing does not have a lot of historical success. We may feel some pain that might be necessary to end some of the inflationary pressures.”

Dr. Edward Bonahue, President of Suffolk County Community College and an HIA-LI Board Member, declared that he’s “remarkably optimistic” despite the difficulties created by the pandemic. “We know that our ability to engage students, to provide hands-on workforce training that replicates the conditions that students are going to find when they’re on the job, is going to be supported by the continuing economic recovery, and the continuing recovery from COVID.”

“Things go in cycles,” added Quarte, summing up the panelists’ perspectives. “We might be in a difficult cycle right now, but we’ve proved we’ve always pulled through it.”

Download a copy of the survey here.

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