WATER, ENERGY, HOUSING, AND INFRASTRUCTURE TOP THE LIST OF LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2023

From left: State Senator Mario Mattera; HIA-LI President & CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli; Congressman Nick LaLota; Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim; Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick; Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter; Joe Campolo, HIA-LI Board Member and Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP; and, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.

It’s essential that our public policymakers have a proper grasp of the needs of the regional business community. And one of the most effective ways to achieve this is through hands-on, real-time interaction between government leaders and businesspeople as well as non-profit leadership.

Throughout the year, HIA-LI works hard to create opportunities for this kind of in-person interaction. And we hosted such an engagement earlier this month at our 45th Annual Meeting and Legislative Program. It was held January 13 at the Radisson Hotel in Hauppauge.

No less than eight elected officials from the federal, state, county and town levels were present at the breakfast forum, which was attended by some 300 people and was moderated by HIA-LI board member Joe Campolo, managing partner with Campolo Middleton & McCormick, LLP.

Water. Energy. Housing, Infrastructure. These were the topics many of our speakers returned to again and again. How can our officials shape policies that ensure a strong, long-term economic future for Nassau and Suffolk counties?

Let me offer a quick, thumbnail summary of some of the key points raised by each of our panelists:

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado was present via a video presentation. He highlighted the state’s investment strategy for Long Island, including Governor Kathy Hochul’s underwriting of a feasibility study to examine the possible relocation of the terminal at Long Island MacArthur Airport closer to the Ronkonkoma LIRR station. He also reinforced the value of the state’s investments in offshore wind energy. Mr. Delgado underscored the merits of the new State Office of Strategic Workforce Development he has set in motion along with the Governor. He also cited the administration’s efforts to expand housing development as a critical way to attract and retain a competitive regional employment base.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone concentrated most of his remarks on the issue of water quality – and on the need to not only create a county wastewater district – but also to find the right way to fund it.

I also had the privilege of speaking at the event, where I had a chance to emphasize the massive economic impact of The Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge as we mark our momentous 45th anniversary in 2023. To help promote the Park’s growth, we’ll be initiating an ambitious branding program, including vanity flags and new signage. I also cited Circuit Transit’s battery-powered rideshare initiative that will create new commuting opportunities for the Park’s 55,000 employees.

Newly elected Congressman Nick LaLota spoke about the need for honesty and integrity in government, and also focused attention on two themes: economic growth and public safety.

State Senator Mario Mattera called upon policymakers to fight for “local jobs for local people.” The senator also advocated for a balanced energy policy, as well as for sewer systems that will “finally bring the Town of Smithtown into the 21st century.”

Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick expressed concerns over the ultimate costs associated with the Climate Action Council Scoping Plan recently adopted by state officials. He also agreed with the Governor that the state needs more housing. But he said that it shouldn’t be done at the expense of abandoning “local control.”

Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter urged government to “get out of the way and let businesses do what they do best.” Public officials should promote incentives – and use “carrots, not sticks.”

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine urged business advocates to focus their attention on tax policy as a primary concern, inclusive of “real estate, sales, personal, and business taxes.” He also stated that “the one thing that will improve productivity in America is investing in infrastructure.”

Finally, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim echoed the same sentiment, asserting that investment in infrastructure is the key to “allowing Long Island to move forward.”

We are committed to working with everyone in the HIA-LI family to help secure a bright and promising future for our Park – and for Long Island.

Trade Show Proves We’re Back to Business!

No matter the industry or the business sector – and no matter whether you’re a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise – there’s nothing like real-world, face-to-face networking to help reinforce existing relationships and develop new relationships.

More than 2,000 participants walked the floor at the HIA-LI 34th Annual Business Trade Show and Conference on May 26.

And that leads to new business!

We were all reminded of these basic truths on May 26 at our 34th Annual Business Trade Show and Conference at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood. More than 2,000 business executives joined us to interact with more than 150 exhibitors representing just about every industry sector on Long Island: technology, energy and environment, manufacturing, finance, hospitality, healthcare, media and advertising, education, government, workforce development, and more.

The event began with a sold-out, all-star breakfast panel moderated by Marc Herbst of the Long Island Contractors’ Association. Panelists included Scott Burman of Engel Burman, Joe Campolo of Campolo Middleton & McCormick, Jim Coughlan of TRITEC, and Richard Zapolski of Cameron Engineering.

The panel zeroed in on one of the most exciting and ambitious projects taking shape on Long Island today: Midway Crossing in Ronkonkoma.

The $2.8-billion, public/private project would create a transportation-oriented hub comprised of 1.4 million square feet of office space geared toward bio-tech, research, healthcare and STEM education. It would also include a convention center with a 108,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, and 20,000 square feet of meeting rooms.

Plans for Midway Crossing also encompass a 300-room hotel, 250,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a new, 300,000-square-foot terminal at Islip MacArthur Airport that would connect to the Ronkonkoma LIRR station.

Panelists agreed that Midway Crossing stands to be a transformational project for the Long Island economy, generating thousands of jobs and helping to better integrate Long Island’s transportation infrastructure on a big-picture basis – and for the long term.

Making Midway Crossing a reality is going to require energetic advocacy on the part of the Long Island business community, and HIA-LI – a long-time supporter of Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport – plans to play an active part.

Other projects discussed include growth at the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, the Ronkonkoma Hub, downtown Bay Shore, and downtown Long Beach – all vital projects that give young professionals options to live, work, and play on Long Island.

Why is this important? Because studies show that 67 percent of young adults ages 18 to 35 and looking to leave Long Island within the next five years. And by 2025 – just three short years from now – 75 percent of our workforce will need to be young professionals.  These projects are critical to stop the brain drain that’s on the horizon.

Also, for the first time, our Trade Show featured a dedicated Manufacturing Pavilion focused on specific issues and challenges facing manufacturers.

And how do we know it was a success? We asked exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees to complete surveys that would allow us to quantify their level of satisfaction with the event. And, on a scale of one to ten, respondents gave the Trade Show a robust ranking of 8.5.

Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to the success of our 34th Annual Business Trade Show and Conference. Let’s keep the momentum going!

LI MacArthur Airport and Tourism: Economic Generators for Long Island

It was a full-house at the March 22 event at Long Island MacArthur Airport, “Taking Business and Tourism to New Heights.”

It’s hard to beat tourism as a business booster.

Economic development professionals will always tell you that one of the best ways for any community to attract incoming dollars is through tourism.

Similar to the benefit enjoyed when customers outside your area purchase your exported products, a dollar spent by a visiting tourist represents the introduction of new, net wealth into your locality.

It’s a pure win, because it’s fresh, outside money coming in.

And the good news is that Long Island business and government leaders know and appreciate this fact. Moreover, they take concrete action to promote and support tourism as a means of enriching the Nassau and Suffolk economies.

To further sharpen our business community’s understanding of the symbiosis uniting tourism and business, HIA-LI hosted more than 200 members of the regional business community at a breakfast panel at Long Island MacArthur Airport on Friday, March 22. The event was called “Taking Business and Tourism to New Heights.”

The panel highlighted Long Island MacArthur Airport, which is owned and operated by  the Town of Islip, and Discover Long Island, the agency formally designated to promote Long Island as a destination for tourism, meetings, conventions, and sporting events.

Speakers included Kristen Jarnagin, President and CEO of Discover Long Island; Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter; Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken.

Ms. Jarnagin helped to crystallize the theme of the event with the following economic development proverb:

“If you build a place where people want to visit, you will build a place where people want to live,” she said. “And if you build a place where people want to live, you will build a place where people want to work. And if you build a place where people want to work, you will build a place where business will want to be. And if businesses want to be there, you will build a place where people will want to visit.”

Thanks to Discover Long Island data, attendees learned that travelers spent an eye-opening $5.9 billion on Long Island in 2017.

And on the fiscal side, tourism in Long Island generated $722 million in state and local taxes in 2017. And sales, property, and hotel bed taxes contributed to nearly $400 million in local taxes.

By fortifying Long Island’s tax base, the tourism industry enhances the region’s ability to attract and retain private companies.

As most readers know, MacArthur Airport is an indispensable hub of our area’s tourism sector. The airport sees more than 5,000 people fly in and out every day.

And under the leadership of Supervisor Carpenter, herself a former businesswoman, the 1,300-acre airport has systematically maintained strong ties to our area’s business community.

Airport Commissioner LaRose-Arken told attendees that MacArthur ranked as America’s fastest-growing, medium- to large-sized airport, as measured by domestic seats.

She also noted that both Southwest and American Airlines had recently responded to growing demand by introducing larger aircraft, and that Frontier Airlines had expanded its list of destinations reachable from the airport.

“We try to operate our airport like a business,” said the Commissioner. “And over the last four years, the airport has run a surplus.”

Underscoring our business community’s commitment to tourism, several private-sector players recently helped underwrite a Discover Long Island survey designed to help inform future strategies for the industry’s growth.

HIA-LI, National Grid, and the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island – which also goes by the name of Ignite Long Island – joined forces with Long Island University and Long Island MacArthur Airport to sponsor the project.

As reported by Newsday, the Discover Long Island analysis found that when travelers are told about “the Island’s beaches and parks, museums, restaurants, and other attractions, the likelihood they will visit rose to 65 percent compared with 47 percent when they knew little about the region.”

To further bolster region-wide tourism, Discover Long Island in 2017 initiated its first-ever co-marketing partnership with New York City’s tourism agency, NYC & Co. The joint program positions Long Island as “a great addition to New York City trips” and as the city’s “beachfront backyard.”

During a question-and-answer session, Ms. Jarnagin urged event attendees to always remember to speak positively about Long island.

“Please think about the way you’re speaking about your home and where you live,” she said. “Because when you put something online, people see it all over the world. If everyone hears something negative, why would anyone want to come here?”

Supervisor Carpenter also urged business leaders to make their presence felt at public hearings and speak up in support of development initiatives “because the naysayers are always going to be there.”

We need to work collaboratively with institutions and government entities.  For example, HIA-LI had provided assistance to MacArthur Airport in assessing travel patterns and passenger needs when the air facility had been scoping out growth strategies.

We simply can’t underestimate the value of this airport and tourism in strengthening the economic foundation of Nassau and Suffolk counties.  The deeper the commitment we make to tourism, the more tourism delivers to our business community.