With Confidence Levels at a Record High, Let’s Boost Long Island’s National Profile

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Bob Quarte, partner with AVZ & Co. and HIA-LI Board Member and former Chair, moderates the February 13 HIA-LI Economic Summit.

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.

Small Business Task Force Tackles Character

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Rita DiStefano moderates the panel at HIA-LI’s November 1 Small Business Task Force Open Forum.

There were some important take-aways from last week’s Small Business Task Force Open Forum, “Hitting the Mark: Character, Competence, and Chemistry that Create Effective Culture.”

  • First, these forums are critical to educating small and mid-sized business owners – who account for 80 percent of HIA-LI members – with best practices from other companies and organizations who have gone through the growing pains that they are likely going through.
  • Second, before anything else, character is critical. You want to surround yourself with employees who have the values, work ethic, and dedication needed for success.
  • Third, when interviewing potential employees, ask questions that help bring out character. Questions such as: Where have you volunteered?  What is your life mantra?

My sincere thanks to Task Force Chair Rita DiStefano, Director of Human Resource Consulting for Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates, for another successful and well-attended forum, which was held at Simplay Entertainment.  Rita, along with Task Force members Sue Gubing, Joe Garofalo, Allan Lippolis, Elana Zolfo, and AnnMarie Scheidt put together a sterling lineup of panelists:

Because small businesses don’t often have the bandwidth and staff found at larger organizations, HIA-LI’s Small Business Task Force was created to boost engagement with Long Island’s small business community.  It does that by listening to their needs and addressing issues with concrete, proven solutions.

Since its inception the Task Force has identified three major areas that small businesses find challenging:

  1. Personnel: Finding, training, and retaining talented employees.
  2. Business Development: Creating new and innovative revenue streams.
  3. Financing: Gaining access to capital in order to have adequate funds to grow.

To address these concerns, the Small Business Task Force began holding Open Forums with the goal of providing continuous support and information for members. Previous topics have covered how to attract and retain the millennial workforce, how to create a positive and attractive work culture, how to be a leader, and more.  The Task Force will continue to support businesses, address their concerns, and find solutions.