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including widening Adams Avenue, improving New Highway, upgrading traffic signals, adding new sidewalks, and removing outdated-looking wooden poles.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.”

Prevailing Wage Bill Would Deliver Devastating Blow to LI Economy

prevaling wage blog imageA bill has passed the New York State Assembly and is now sitting in the State Senate (A1261/S1947) that would require all Industrial Development Agency (IDA) funded projects to pay “prevailing wage.”  The bill is co-sponsored by State Senators James Gaughran and Monica Martinez.

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.

Over recent years, New York State witnessed the way that a new prevailing wage requirement had choked off the pipeline of IDA projects in Ulster County and the City of Yonkers. That same harmful scenario would surely play out here, too.

Our analysis is clear: imposing these onerous new costs on future IDA projects would severely diminish Long Island’s competitive status – and badly dampen our hopes for the future.

We urge our State lawmakers to reject this unsustainable new burden on our region’s economy.

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!

40 Years of “Personal Touch”

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Pictured from left: Grant Hendricks, Vice Chairman, Suffolk IDA; Hon. Ed Wehrheim, Supervisor, Town of Smithtown; Terri Alessi-Miceli, President & CEO, HIA-LI; Jack Kulka, President & Founder, The Kulka Group and HIA-LI Lifetime Board Member; Sophia Serlis-McPhillips, Director, Middle Country Public Library; and, Joe Campolo, HIA-LI Board Chair and Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP

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.

Attendees also praised the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency – represented by Vice Chair Grant Hendricks – which aggressively promotes the growth of our business park.

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.”

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Honoring Those Who Helped Us Reach 40

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!