On January 17, 2020, CMM Managing Partner and HIA-LI Board Chairman Joe Campolo moderated the 42nd HIA-LI Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, attended by over 350 members of the business community. Joe reported on HIA-LI’s incredible year in 2019 and the plans to relentlessly push for even greater economic growth in 2020. He then led a discussion with elected officials about the issues most affecting the business community. Panelists included U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin, New York State Senator John Flanagan, New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, and Executive Director of Islip Economic Development Bill Mannix. Read Joe’s full remarks below.

I’d like to welcome everyone to our Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast. Thank you for being here this morning. As Chairman of the HIA-LI Board of Directors, I’m honored to join you as the moderator for this event as we embark on a new year for Long Island business and for the continued prosperity of our region.

2019 was a wildly successful year for the HIA-LI. Building on our success in uncovering the numbers and facts that we learned through our Economic Impact Study about what was then known as the Hauppauge Industrial Park, we took a giant leap forward. Based on the success of that initiative, the Suffolk County IDA funded an opportunity analysis to take a deeper look at the Park.

The conclusions were staggering – in addition to verifying the prior economic analysis, this report also found that the Park has the largest concentration of tradable businesses not only on Long Island, but also is a full 20% above the national average for tradable business clusters. Tradable industry is critical to a healthy economic ecosystem. The Park truly earned its new name and new brand – the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.

We now know how critical to Long Island it is to maintain and grow this high percentage of tradable business in the Park, for to lose them would be catastrophic. Unlike non-tradable businesses, tradable businesses are our only way to attract and keep the recent grads of our own educational organizations, who are all too often lured away by the glitz of NYC or Silicon Valley. This is the key, as these jobs will pay them adequate wages so they can buy our homes, afford the taxes and enjoy the higher-end amenities Long Island is known for.

And speaking of taxes, we also learned the astronomical amount of taxes that the businesses located in the Park generate on a federal, state, and local level. In the past, being that we never quantified those numbers, we didn’t have them to use when we engaged with our elected officials for resources and support. As a result, HIA-LI was relegated to the kiddie table while the adults shaped Long Island. Everyone, I believe, now knows that it was a huge mistake to leave so many business owners out of the discussion.

All of that changes now. HIA-LI has earned and will not accept anything less than a seat at the grown-ups table and will not accept being left out of critical discussions anymore. Armed with all our data, we are now able to have more intelligent conversations with our elected officials on a dollars-and-cents basis and are able to help educate them on the need to support this Park.

Luckily, our current elected officials understand this and have welcomed the new HIA-LI with open arms.

We’ve had productive and meaningful conversations with the County about economic development and sewers, with the Town of Smithtown about signs and overlay districts, and with the state about a workforce development center.

To my friends on the dais, I say thank you, and I say our work has just begun. HIA-LI will continue to relentlessly pursue improvements to the Park that will help foster and grow our beloved Long Island business, and we look forward to working with you all on these initiatives.

In addition to these efforts, our Small Business Task Force, headed by Rita DiStefano, and our Solar Initiative, headed by Scott Maskin, took enormous strides in 2019. HIA-LI also launched our Gold Member initiative, and I look forward to the growth of that program this year as well.

I am proud to report that HIA-LI is poised for another successful year. Thank you.