Chairman’s Spotlight: Information, Then Action
The following is an excerpt from HIA-LI Board Chairman Joe Campolo’s remarks at the Business Achievement Awards in September.
Thank you for joining us today – we’re gathered to celebrate our love of Long Island and our desire to see it prosper.
I like to think that my remarks last year marked the “coming out” of the economic importance of the Hauppauge Industrial Park. We had just concluded a research project with Stony Brook University graduate students, and the results of this Economic Impact Study shocked us. Here are some facts I shared last year:
- The Park is comprised of 11 square miles primarily within the Town of Smithtown, with a small piece in the Town of Islip.
- It’s the second largest industrial park in the nation, behind only Silicon Valley!
- It’s home to approximately 1,400 companies that employ 55,000 people. One in 20 jobs on Long Island depends on it.
- The sales volume of these businesses exceeds $13 billion and annual payroll exceeds $2.8 billion, with income tax on that payroll of $806 million. This leaves over $2 billion of household income to spend locally.
- The Park generates over $64 million in property taxes.
But while information is great – and this information is truly staggering – it means nothing if action doesn’t follow. So let’s talk about the work we’ve done at HIA-LI since uncovering this valuable information.
As a direct result of our study, the Suffolk IDA and Regional Plan Association granted critical funds to bring engineering and planning professionals into the Park to make it more viable moving forward. We’re working with James Lima Planning + Development, as well as Park stakeholders, to maximize growth and competitiveness. These efforts are making national headlines as we aggressively get the word out.
The study also coincided with new leadership in the Town of Smithtown. Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, in addition to Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, has been incredibly supportive of our efforts to explore new zoning regulations to allow businesses to grow. Our teams have been meeting regularly, with Smithtown giving us a direct seat at the table to discuss the needs of the Park and a line item in their capital budget.
Next, we’ve sharpened our focus on attracting and retaining talent in the Park and on Long Island in general. By 2025, over 70% of the workforce will be millennials. If we don’t keep them working in our businesses, factories, restaurants, and nonprofits, the Long Island economy can’t survive. We learned that a huge factor in Silicon Valley’s success is its partnership with Stanford University, which provides a consistent stream of talent. Learning that, we realized that we must directly collaborate with our great universities and colleges. And so we have created a unique partnership between HIA-LI, Stony Brook University (Ann-Marie Scheidt), and Suffolk Community College, with a mission to find recent grads jobs right here in the Park. Board member Sue Gubing has graciously taken on the role of career placement liaison so we can help companies find talent and even hand-pick students when they have hiring needs.
Through these relationships, as well as the creation of job fairs exclusively for companies in the Park, HIA-LI is ensuring that these businesses can attract and retain the talent needed to compete with the Googles and the Facebooks of Silicon Valley, which try every day to lure our most talented folks away.
Another critical initiative is active collaboration with LIBI, Tritec, and other real estate professionals to identify zoning changes needed to create new residential developments with direct access to the Park, to house this growing workforce.
My fellow board members are also undertaking other critical initiatives. Scott Maskin and Jack Kulka’s energy initiative aims to help building owners prosper by investing in renewable energy. They have worked closely with board member Mike Voltz of PSEG to identify 20,000,000 square feet of Park rooftops that can house solar, enabling businesses to drastically lower their energy bills. Another initiative came from Rita DiStefano, Joseph Garofalo, and Allan Lippolis, who created a small business task force to address the needs of this critical sector.
The Hauppauge Industrial Park is more than just a random collection of buildings. It’s a living, breathing business ecosystem and HIA-LI takes its role as steward very seriously. I am privileged to work with HIA-LI President Terri Alessi-Miceli and her talented staff to keep these important initiatives moving forward.
What’s next? Plenty. We’re finalizing feasibility studies, creating a buying consortium among Park businesses, collaborating with other local schools, and are even launching a contest to rename and rebrand the Park to instill a sense of pride in this powerful economic engine. We’re just getting started!