Joe Campolo delivered these remarks for HIA-LI’s 26th Annual Business Achievement Awards virtual ceremony on September 29, 2020.

Good morning everyone. My name is Joe Campolo and I proudly serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of HIA-LI. Now more than ever, I am thrilled to join you in celebrating the best and the brightest on Long Island. Almost 10 years ago, CMM learned that we were the recipients of the Rookie of the Year Award, and to this day, especially when faced with the nonstop challenges of 2020, that remains a proud moment for us and a source of inspiration to keep fighting no matter how difficult the circumstances. So to all of the finalists and recipients, I extend my most heartfelt congratulations.

This year has tested us, and continues to do so. Fortunately, I believe that leaders aren’t born – they are made by the times they exist in and how they rise to the occasion.

The richness of Long Island lies not only in our real estate and our school districts, but in our innovative businesses, restaurants, and hospitality. I have spent my entire career helping to build Long Island – and I am not willing to sit back and watch these businesses be destroyed without a fight. How do we do it? By being leaders.

Leading through this pandemic requires both an acceptance of reality and being adaptable to our ever-changing circumstances.

This March, like many of you, our team headed home with stacks of folders, remote login instructions, and no clue that our world had changed forever.

Personally, I felt like I had been hit in the head with a bat, and I wasn’t alone. The next few days were filled with panicked calls from clients and friends who simply had no idea what the future held, and how their businesses could survive. Within a few days, most people were either overtaken by panic (not sure what to do, so doing nothing), or in total denial (refusing to accept reality).

I was trained in the U.S. Marine Corps that no one is coming to help me. So I did the only thing that made sense to me: worked with my team to help cut through that static, and take action.

Among other things, that first week, we set up a coronavirus relief hotline open to all members of the business community, whether or not they were existing CMM clients, where we provided free advice to critical questions businesses were asking about their very survival. I know that this work helped many businesses stay open when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

We don’t know where this next chapter leads us, but we can all control our responses. We must be patient and focused, yet optimistic and zealous.

We must continue to endure the most stressful conditions we will likely face in our lifetimes. We must look at a macro level, accept, and adapt. We must help others along the way. We must find new ways to bring value to our new reality.

We must be leaders to survive – and the companies and businesses being recognized today have done just that. We should all take pride in their accomplishments, for their strength and resilience is a model for all of us to move forward.   I am proud of the work that HIA-LI has done to help lead Long Island through this crisis and I am proud of all of you for your leadership and courage. Together we will remain Long Island Strong.