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.

It Ain’t Just Exhibit Booths!

Top photo: The trade show floor. Bottom photo: The executive luncheon panel.

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.

Later, a stellar Executive Luncheon panel was moderated by Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute and a huge HIA-LI booster.

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.

The analysis was sponsored by Suffolk County IDA and the Regional Plan Association – and a Task Force is poised to turn the plan into a reality.

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!