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.

Partnership Between HIA-LI and Town of Smithtown Delivers Long-Term Benefits to the Hauppauge Industrial Park

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HIA-LI President & CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli is interviewed with Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim for an upcoming episode of Smithtown Spotlight.

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.

They are Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. Both deserve great credit for their support for the Park.

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.”

Public Officials Talk Business Growth

From left: HIA-LI Board Chairman Joe Campolo; State Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim; Suffolk Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory; HIA-LI President & CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli; Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter; and, Congressman Lee Zeldin.

Public policy has a major impact upon whether our businesses become profitable and whether our organizations succeed. That’s why HIA-LI regularly brings our members face-to-face with elected officials to discuss issues of concern to the Long Island business sector.

In this spirit, the HIA-LI convened our Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast on Friday, January 18 at the Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack.

Moderated by Board Chair Joe Campolo – Managing Partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP – the discussion focused on business climate issues, housing, taxes, and other topics.

Panelists included Congressman Lee Zeldin, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, and Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory.

Congressman Zeldin and Legislator Gregory cited higher education’s role in sustaining economic growth. “Unemployment is at an all-time low,” the Congressman said, “but a skills gap still exists.” He said Long Island needs a “technical training route” for non-college-bound students.

Presiding Officer Gregory praised Suffolk County Community College for “helping companies fill the skills gap.” He advocated for greater emphasis on STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to help ensure the competitiveness of our regional workforce.

Supervisor Carpenter praised the Town’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA), noting its high level of accountability because the Town Board also functions as the IDA Board. She pinpointed Castella Imports of Brentwood as a big IDA success story in the Town.

Assemblyman Fitzpatrick said that high taxes – elevated by public sector pensions – have triggered out-migration from Long Island. “If government were smaller,” he said, “and pension costs were lower, we’d have a lower tax burden.”

As an economic development strategy in the Town of Smithtown, Supervisor Wehrheim reported that the Town is now situating workforce housing within business districts. Last summer, site plans were approved for such developments in Smithtown and Commack totaling 154 new units.

In today’s intensely competitive marketplace, the public and private sectors must collaborate and cooperate. Our Annual Legislative Breakfasts help bolster this essential, symbiotic relationship.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this breakfast event a success!

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.