Despite Slip, AVZ Survey Says Long Island Economy Is Still Strong

AVZ Economic Summit
Moderator Robert Quarte, Managing Partner, AVZ & Company, P.C., and panelists, from left: Jim Coughlan, Principal, TRITEC Real Estate Co., Inc.; Janine Logan, Sr. Director, Communications & Population Health, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council; Rich Humann, President and CEO, H2M Architects + Engineers; Dr. John Nader, President, Farmingdale State College; and, Kevin O’Connor, President and CEO, BNB Bank.

Long Island business executives feel optimistic about the region’s economic future, as we explored at HIA-LI’s 26th Annual Economic Summit on February 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge. HIA-LI sees this event as critical to helping our members interpret what’s going on here on Long Island.

Based on the annual survey conducted by AVZ & Company, one of Long Island’s largest accounting firms, confidence in the regional economy – which reached a survey record high of 7.2 in 2018 – stood at a healthy 6.8 by the end of 2019. Yet forty-six percent of respondents added employees last year, and 43 percent had “no problem” finding skilled workers.

With AVZ managing partner Bob Quarte keeping the discussion lively and interesting in his role as moderator, a five-member panel sustained the attention of over 250 guests as they delved into issues shaping our region’s economic future.

Jim Coughlan, principal of TRITEC Real Estate, praised IDAs for their powerful contributions to the success of large business development projects. But if State lawmakers begin requiring IDA-supported projects to pay “prevailing wages,” he cautioned, IDAs would lose much of their ability to promote growth.

Rich Humann, president and CEO of H2M Architects + Engineers, praised HIA-LI’s work in building bridges between the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH) and regional universities.

Looking big picture, Kevin O’Connor, president and CEO of BNB Bank, said there’s been an evolution in deal structures over the past fifteen years that should lessen the incidence of “crash and burn” economic cycles.

Janine Logan, Senior Director for Communications and Population Health with the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, seemed unsurprised that the AVZ survey had ranked healthcare as the regional industry with the greatest growth potential.

Why? Well, nearly one-fifth of our population is age 65 or older, she said, and the top, predisposing factor for chronic disease is age.

Dr. John Nader, president of Farmingdale State College, told attendees that many people burdened with college debt had never received diplomas. Instead of two- or four-year degrees, he said that many jobs now call only for “micro-credentials” and certifications. That’s something for us to keep in mind as we develop a proposed LI-IPH workforce development center.

This year’s Economic Summit was stimulating and upbeat and once again served as a very important discussion on the pulse and future trends on Long Island.

Our Task Force Has Begun Building the Park’s New Future

We’ve got the vision – and we’ve got the strategy.

And now, we’ve got a blue-ribbon Task Force in place to implement the strategy.

Our goal? The HIA-LI is spearheading a bold expansion of the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH), formerly known as the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

While our 55,000-employee workforce already delivers $13 billion in annual output, we’ve now identified powerful opportunities for new growth.

With support from the Suffolk County IDA and the Regional Plan Association, HIA-LI commissioned a full-blown “Opportunity Analysis” by James Lima of James Lima Planning + Development, a nationally respected economic development consulting firm.

It found that the Park stood as Long Island’s top source of new, incoming wealth – thanks to our unsurpassed ratio of “tradable” businesses. These are companies whose exports and services attract new dollars into the region.

Tradable industries constitute only 23 percent of the regional economy, well below the 36 percent national average.

But our Park’s ratio is super-high: 58 percent of our workforce represents jobs in tradable industries.

The 160-page Lima assessment pinpointed five expansion strategies: facilitate business growth, attract and retain key knowledge workers, strengthen workforce development, promote innovation, and bolster connections among businesses, government, and institutions.

Happily, our new LI-IPH Task Force has already begun implementing these strategies.

In addition to myself and Joe Campolo, HIA-LI board chairman and managing partner of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, its members include:

I applaud our Task Force members for their commitment to the LI-IPH – and to our region’s future.

Let’s enthusiastically support their efforts to usher in a new era of economic vibrancy for Long Island.