Every May, HIA-LI’s Annual Trade Show and Conference infuses our year-round programming with a healthy jolt of momentum.
This year’s event, our 31st, was the most successful ever. The May 30 exposition – held at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood – attracted 375 exhibitors and more than 3,000 attendees. It was a joy to see attendees reinforce valuable business relationships on the trade show floor.
One high point was Executive Breakfast keynoter Carl Banks, the former NFL linebacker who earned two Super Bowl championship rings as a New York Giant.
Carl is president of GIII Sports, an apparel company ranking among the top three sportswear licensees in professional sports. He shared lessons for success he had carried from the football field into the business world.
Panelist Bob Coughlan, principal with TRITEC Real Estate, updated attendees on the 50-acre Ronkonkoma Hub. His company is master developer of a project Bob calls “one of the East Coast’s best transit-oriented sites.”
In a presentation by David Wolkoff, a principal at Heartland Business Center, guests were briefed on Heartland Town Square, a walkable, 450-acre “smart growth” community unfolding on Brentwood’s former Pilgrim State grounds.
David Pennetta, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield, discussed such novel development strategies as a recent proposal to permit multi-family development within an aging Melville business park.
Village of Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri drew praise from fellow panelists for his community’s precedent-setting, redevelopment makeover, including TRITEC’s $112 million, multi-use “New Village” community.
Panelist Joe Campolo — the Managing Partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP and our HIA-LI board chair — reinforced the upbeat spirit by focusing on the action plan spelled out in the recent “Opportunity Analysis” completed for the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, the new name of the Hauppauge Industrial Park.
While every panelist acknowledged the urgent need for Long Island to retain the youngest stratum of our workforce, Joe said that the strategic re-creation of our business park would play an instrumental role in keeping young people here.
The energy of a successful trade show – combined with the anticipation we’re all feeling as the Park launches its expansion plans – made for an exciting day!
It’s hard enough figuring out how to grow our businesses and organizations over the next, say, six months . . . or year . . . or even two years.
So, how do we chart a course for growth over the next decade? Or two decades?
Well, we now have clear and specific answers.
First, based on feedback from park occupants, our government partners and our future workforce, we are changing the name of the Hauppauge Industrial Park.
Its new name is the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge with the tagline: “Where Business Meets Innovation.”
As the largest business park in the Northeast, we’re already the unrivaled cornerstone of the Suffolk County economy. This Park is home to 55,000 employees – and our $13 billion of annual output accounts for eight percent of Long Island’s Gross Domestic Product.
Our proven capacity for innovation will be the key to decades of new growth, so innovation is now our middle name.
And what is our blueprint for decades of expansion?
The analysis found that we held a big advantage over the rest of Long Island through our powerful contingent of “tradeable” business. “Tradeable” commerce involves goods and services exportable to other locations — and not consumed solely by local markets.
This is a hard-core metric of regional economic development value because it measures an asset’s capacity to serve, in essence, as a “dollar magnet” – and to attract outside wealth into the area.
The Island-wide ratio of “tradeable” business runs only 23 percent, contrasted with a national rate of 36 percent.
But the figure for Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppaugestands at an impressive 58 percent, over 20 percent higher than the national average.
That’s a platform worth building upon, and one that is destined to elevate the Park’s status as a regional business driver.
The report pinpointed five essential, high-level economic development strategies for the Park to grow and influence the entire Long Island economy:
First, facilitate business growth. Second, strengthen training and workforce development. Third, attract and retain knowledge workers. Fourth, promote innovation and technology transfer. And fifth, fortify connections among business, government and institutions.
“This reimagining of the Park,” says Suffolk IDA chair Theresa Ward, “gets everyone involved in economic development in this region excited because the potential is so real and obtainable.”
With this insightful, five-part game plan in hand, Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge is today equipped to fulfill a growth scenario that will redouble its contributions to our regional economy.
And do we have the assets – and the will – to pull it off?
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
While we appreciate the good intentions of the bill’s supporters, it must not pass. The bill’s adoption would deliver a devastating blow to future economic growth in Suffolk County. In addition to inhibiting the creation of new manufacturing enterprises, this radical change in IDA guidelines would also suppress the introduction of new housing into our region, including affordable housing.
Over the course of 41 years, HIA-LI has grown to represent tens of thousands of Long Island business professionals. We serve as a widely recognized advocate for regional development. It is our core mission.
A centerpoint of our constituency is the Hauppauge Industrial Park, which ranks second in size only to Silicon Valley among America’s industrial parks. This 1,400-acre Park houses more than 1,350 businesses employing some 55,000 people. These workers collectively represent a post-tax payroll accounting for more than $2 billion in local spending. Many of our projects have benefited from IDA support.
More broadly, the Suffolk IDA plays an essential role in Long Island’s economy. It has been a vital economic development resource with an excellent record of success helping local companies expand or renovate, build or add new facilities, or relocate to Suffolk County.
In the Town of Smithtown alone, the Suffolk IDA has been instrumental in the delivery of 34 projects – 13 ground-up developments among them. Most of these IDA projects have been situated in the Hauppauge Industrial Park. Townwide, they are helping to create 4,624 jobs and leverage more than $322 million in private capital.
A new prevailing wage provision is expected to shoot average IDA projects skyward by as much as 40 percent. Such a surge will instantly transform this new requirement into nothing short of a deal-killer for vast numbers of new developments. Contrary to the feelings of some lawmakers this bill will not increase the salary of construction jobs but will decrease the availability of jobs. This would not only stymie the creation of tens of thousands of permanent jobs and construction jobs but would also suppress creation of the kind of workforce housing that allows Long Island to allure and retain skilled personnel including millennials.
Long Island’s business community is facing the future with confidence at record levels.
We know that the significant work HIA-LI is doing with the Economic Impact Study and Opportunity Analysis will spur growth and development. Because of this, HIA-LI’s Long Island Economic Confidence rating is also high.
Now we need to project this confidence outward to other markets. Our advantages should be positioning Long Island as an economic development magnet.
That was the big takeaway from HIA-LI’s 25th Annual Long Island Economic Summit held February 13 at the Windwatch in Hauppauge. Panelists included six top-tier representatives of Long Island’s business community.
As always, the annual conclave’s centerpiece was the release of the AVZ Economic Survey and Opinion Poll. Results were presented by a HIA-LI Board Member and a former Chair, Bob Quarte, a partner with AVZ & Co.
Bob said confidence in the national economy had hit a record high of 7.5, while Long Island’s economic confidence rating had attained a 7.2 level.
“This 7.2 rating is the highest we’ve ever seen,” Bob reported, on the occasion of the AVZ survey’s silver anniversary. “It matches our 1999 and 2000 levels.”
Some 77 percent of respondents had increased company revenues in 2018. Ninety-five percent had increased prices for products or services, and 43 percent had expanded their staffing.
Chris Valsamos, President and CEO of Castella Imports, urged Long Island to promote itself more forcefully:
“Long Island must advertise itself as family-friendly,” he said. “We have excellent schools, recreation, and employment opportunities.”
“Our region should stop playing defense and start playing offense,” said Kevin O’Connor, BNB Bank’s President and CEO, striking similar chords. “We offer so many pluses, including our institutions of higher learning and proximity to New York City.”
“Locally, confidence is high,” said Michael Fener, executive director of Northwell Health. Echoing Kevin O’Connor, Michael highlighted our nearness to The Big Apple as “a benefit for Long Island.”
“This region has world-class institutions,” said Rich Humann, President + CEO of H2M architects + engineers. But, he added that there is a serious “talent gap in the engineering industry.” Rich urged the expansion of STEM education.
“Stony Brook graduates are getting jobs,” Dr. Anne-Marie Scheidt, Economic Development Director at Stony Brook University, told attendees. “Many get multiple offers before graduation, especially in STEM fields.”
Sometimes I think we’re so close to Long Island that we forget what a great place it is to do business. So let’s take our panelists’ advice — and tell the world!
Click here for a copy of the 2019 AVZ Economic Survey and Opinion Poll.
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.
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!
Coming off our 40th anniversary last year, the HIA-LI is looking to the future and carrying forward our momentum into 2019.
We’re working together to promote the interests of the Long Island business community – and of America’s second-largest industrial park. And we’re fueled by the knowledge that everyone benefits – our companies, our organizations, our employees, and our households – when we successfully strengthen Long Island’s regional competitiveness.
This year, HIA-LI will center much of our attention on three strategic initiatives:
First, we’ll build upon the groundbreaking work of the Hauppauge Industrial Park Task Force – chaired by Joe Campolo, Esq., of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP – which focuses on elevating the park’s economic impact.
One component of our Task Force work will be to fortify relationships with Long Island’s educational institutions to help better meet the workforce needs of the region. We’ll also be looking at re-branding the Hauppauge Industrial Park to better reflect the pride we have in this critical economic engine.
Our second area of concentration in 2019 is the HIA-LI Solar Initiative – co-chaired by Jack Kulka of Kulka Construction Corp. and Scott Maskin of SUNation Solar Systems – which will leverage our park’s 20 million square feet of unused rooftops. Solarizing this untapped resource will reduce electricity costs, generate jobs and revenues, and help preserve our environment.
And third comes our Small Business Task Force – chaired by Rita DiStefano of Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates – which is working to enhance HIA-LI’s ability to engage with Long Island’s small business community.
Our small and mid-sized business owners have asked us to concentrate on three critical needs: The first is to find, train and retain good talent. The second is to promote business development and generate fresh revenue streams. And the third is to secure financing that facilitates business growth.
While we’re always looking to recruit new board members, this year we’ll be specifically aiming to attract young entrepreneurs to our association, to our park, and to the Long Island region’s leadership ranks.
And it makes sense to mark your calendar now for one of our seminal annual events, the HIA-LI 31st Annual Trade Show, which this year will be held on Thursday, May 30.
In 2019, let’s keep working together to elevate Long Island as one of the country’s great and vibrant economic centers.
I’ve said it before: One special attribute of HIA-LI is that we bring “a personal touch” to our work.
This pleasing dimension of our operations was evident at last week’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Stonebridge in Hauppauge.
We were able to have some fun, interact socially, honor some great friends, and reflect on HIA-LI’s many accomplishments over four decades.
It’s nice that HIA-LI doesn’t default into clinical-style, by-the-book networking. Instead, we enjoy each other’s company. We engage each other as people, not just business prospects.
It calls to mind my initial encounters with the group about 30 years ago. As an executive with Dale Carnegie Training, I was a rank-and-file member of HIA-LI, hoping to drum up some local business.
But what treatment I received! Marcy Tublisky introduced me to virtually every CEO in the organization.
My first reaction was, “This group is different. Sure, they’re all aiming for business success. But these people bring ‘a personal touch’ to the whole enterprise!”
And it was a personal thrill for me last week when we recognized four honorees:
We applauded an HIA-LI founding father and development icon Jack Kulka — President and Founder of The Kulka Group — who was there on Day One in 1978.
We recognized the Miller Business Center of Centereach, represented by Middle Country Public Library Director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips. Few know that HIA-LI had been poised to launch our own business library years ago when we realized that the nearby Miller Business Center was an ideal partner to fulfill our needs.
Supervisor Edward Wehrheim spoke for the Town of Smithtown, our final honoree. He’s already begun building upon the legacy of former Supervisor Pat Vecchio in facilitating the enrichment of our complex.
And I was truly surprised and humbled to be given an award by the HIA-LI board. It is my honor to serve as president and C.E.O., and I share this honor with the outstanding staff at HIA-LI who work hard every day in order to make my job look easy.
We also recounted some of HIA-LI’s achievements over four decades, including our growth from 350 to nearly 1,000 member companies.
HIA-LI remains an effective agent of regional economic growth, while maintaining the “personal touch” that facilitates relationship building among members. And HIA-LI keeps advocating for the Hauppauge Industrial Park, whose 1,350 businesses and 55,000 employees make it America’s most job-rich industrial park east of the Mississippi River.
We’ve leveraged dozens of assets for the Park and its member firms, such as a Northern State Parkway exit ramp, a dedicated COPE car in cooperation with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the country’s first-ever industrial park-based childcare centers, dozens of sewage, lighting, and road improvements, and a truly lengthy list of other deliverables.
Click here to check out our 40th Anniversary Report for a more complete list of accomplishments, current initiatives, and along with the history of HIA-LI.
So, bravo to you, HIA-LI! And congratulations on 40 proud years of successful business advocacy – all carried out in a way that maintains a warmly appreciated “personal touch.”
All right, time to put yourself in my shoes for a minute – and picture how exciting it is to witness HIA-LI’s dedicated staffers and volunteers finalizing preparations for Thursday’s 40th Anniversary Gala at the Stonebridge Country Club in Hauppauge.
We’re all busy getting ready for a delightful night of dinner, dancing, and nostalgia at this wonderful venue.
HIA-LI will celebrate four decades of commitment to enhancing Long Island’s economic climate and expanding growth opportunities for our members.
But the high point will come when we join to recognize four honorees for their leadership and dedication to Long Island.
We’ll be honoring:
• Jack Kulka, an HIA-LI Lifetime Board Member and President and Founder of The Kulka Group. In 1978 when the Hauppauge Industrial Park experienced a three-day power outage, Jack Kulka was one of our original founders – along with several other business owners – who helped form the Hauppauge Industrial Association to advocate for the Park’s interests and for the Long Island business community. Jack was one of the first to envision Hauppauge as a major business crossroads for our region.
The Kulka Group is a highly regarded developer of waterfront residences, community complexes, retail and industrial centers, hotels, and corporate offices.
• The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, which has an extraordinary record of success helping local companies expand or renovate, build or add new facilities, or relocate to Suffolk County. In the past three years alone, the IDA has helped to create or retain 5,600 jobs – and leveraged some $454 million in private investment.
Currently the Suffolk IDA is partnering with HIA-LI to build the future of the Hauppauge Industrial Park, the largest in the Northeast with over 55,000 employees and 1,300 companies.
• The Miller Business Center, a regional resource for businesses, entrepreneurs and not-for-profits. Located within Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, the center provides HIA-LI members with valuable business resources and personalized research support.
• The Town of Smithtown, home base for the vast majority of the Hauppauge Industrial Park. Under former Supervisor Pat Vecchio and now Supervisor Edward Wehrheim, the Town has continued to be enormously supportive of HIA-LI by helping us navigate zoning challenges and leverage a myriad of infrastructure improvements.
OK, so now that you’ve worn my shoes for a minute, it’s time to change into your dancing shoes – for some fun at Thursday’s Gala!
Festivities begin at 6 pm – and I look forward to seeing you there!