HIA-LI, one of Long Island’s largest business associations, has issued a whitepaper presenting a progress report on an April 2019 “opportunity analysis” that had set forth a multi-faceted strategy for maximizing the economic potential of the 1,400-acre Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, formerly known as Hauppauge Industrial Park.

The whitepaper was written for HIA-LI by Joe Campolo, Lauren Kanter-Lawrence, and Ilona Kaydanov of Ronkonkoma-based Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP.

As the largest business park in the Northeast, the approximately 1,400 companies in the Long Island Innovation Park employ 55,000 people with an annual output of $13 billion.

The 2019 opportunity analysis – prepared by James Lima Planning + Development and the Regional Plan Association and funded by the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) – documented the park’s status as “the center of Long Island’s current and future economy.”

The study spelled out five economic development strategies for park expansion: facilitate business growth; attract and retain skilled workers; strengthen workforce development; promote innovation and technology transfer; and connect businesses, governments and institutions.

The HIA-LI whitepaper, titled “Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge: Securing Long Island’s Future,” highlights the Town of Smithtown’s August 2020 zoning change to permit developers to apply for a special exception on 13 parcels in the Park for mixed-use buildings that incorporate ground-floor retail or restaurants with upstairs apartments and offices. The whitepaper noted that the Town’s policy decision had been the result of “a fully transparent three-and-a-half-year analysis.”

The report anticipates that the amended zoning stood to generate construction of 1,000 new housing units. These units would, in turn, create more than 2,900 construction jobs with $180.7 million in construction earnings and $472.6 million in construction spending.

In the context of the 2019 opportunity analysis, the zoning change would help achieve at least two of the five growth strategies for the park: the facilitation of business growth and the attraction and retention of a skilled workforce.

The whitepaper, however, singled out two obstacles to park growth: a Hauppauge Union Free School District lawsuit opposing the Town zoning change, and the inadequacy of present wastewater management systems to accommodate the anticipated expansion.

Rebutting the school district’s lawsuit, the HIA-LI document presents a detailed statistical refutation of the contention that the newly permitted building conversions would burden the local school system.

In respect to wastewater management, the whitepaper notes that the size and design of the present-day collection systems, treatment plant, and leaching beds would have to be expanded to handle the expanded output that would be generated by park expansion. The HIA-LI report notes that the Suffolk County Health and Public Works Departments contracted with Melville-based H2M architects + engineers to propose cost-efficient, ameliorative steps that would align wastewater management capacity with future wastewater output.

A key focus of the 2019 opportunity analysis was the pre-eminent value of tradable industries, which are specific business sectors that bring net, new dollars into a region. The report found that on Long Island as a whole, tradable industries comprise only 23 percent of Nassau and Suffolk’s economy, compared to a national average of 36 percent. However, the analysis revealed that 58 percent of the jobs in the Innovation Park were in tradable industries.

“This whitepaper underscores the leadership of the Town of Smithtown in undertaking visionary policy changes that would deliver enormous economic development payoffs for the Innovation Park and for Long Island as a whole,” said HIA-LI President and CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli. “HIA-LI is especially appreciative of the efforts of Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim in advancing job creation and business growth at the park.”

“Business leaders and government leaders alike need to implement well-informed strategies capable of carrying Long Island’s innovative economy to new heights,” said Richard Humann, PE, President and CEO of H2M architects + engineers and Chairperson of the HIA-LI board. “Both Suffolk County and the Town of Smithtown have proven to be reliable partners in maximizing the potential of the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.”

“With its high proportion of tradable businesses, the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge is the indisputable linchpin of the Long Island economy,” said Joe Campolo, Chair of HIA-LI’s Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge Committee and Managing Partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP. “It behooves business leaders, government entities, and regional institutions to promote the Park’s long-term success.”

“It’s essential for local government to understand the impact of policymaking on business growth and job creation,” said Ed Wehrheim, Supervisor of the Town of Smithtown. “The leaders and members of HIA-LI have consistently maintained a candid and constructive dialogue with the Town of Smithtown, and our dialogue helps ensure that we will reach our common goals for economic development.”

“The Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge is the largest economic engine in the region and leveraging all potential opportunities for its continued growth is crucial for our region’s success,” said Natalie Wright, Commissioner of Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning and Chair of the Suffolk County IDA. “We have a longstanding history of supporting HIA-LI and its partners in elevating the profile of the Park as well as its businesses. We’re proud of the progress already made as highlighted in the report and look forward to the next chapter of progress for this hub of employment, tax generation and overall economic prosperity.”