I’d like to welcome everyone here tonight. Thank you for being here and celebrating the 40th anniversary of our beloved HIA-LI.
You’ve already heard, and will hear more tonight, about the remarkable accomplishments of HIA-LI. But an organization by itself cannot accomplish anything – it must be done through the people who believe in its purpose and mission, and who commit their time and resources to fulfilling its objectives – which is why I am in awe of my fellow board members. There is no other organization that has a group of volunteers as dedicated, hardworking and passionate. The respect and professionalism that permeates our board meetings and events brings me hope, particularly now when there is such a climate of divisiveness in our country, a belief and a hope that together we as an organization can lead and help conquer any problems that Long Island and Long Islanders face. And it is that hope, and that trust, that all of you, our members, have in us which makes this organization so unique and valuable to Long Island. Because of that trust, I hold my role as Chair of this Board as one of my most cherished professional accomplishments.
Through the Board’s tremendous leadership, in addition to all of the other amazing things the HIA-LI accomplishes, this year we’ve focused on three new critical initiatives, which you can read more about in your Annual Report being distributed tonight. Through our Hauppauge Industrial Park Task Force, we have been working directly with James Lima Planning + Development, the Suffolk IDA, and the Regional Plan Association to help ensure the Park’s viability for the future and maximize its growth and competitiveness. We are also working directly with our local colleges and universities to create a direct workforce pipeline, helping to ensure the future of Long Island’s businesses.
My fellow board members Jack Kulka and Scott Maskin have also created HIA-LI’s Solar Initiative, which seeks to educate the community about converting the 20 million square feet of unused rooftops in the Park into an energy source, creating jobs, revenue, and massive savings for building owners.
Rita DiStefano and her team have also been hard at work on the Small Business Task Force, creating Town Hall meetings and opening the channels of communication for small businesses in our community. Small businesses play a vital role in our economy but are often overlooked. Not at HIA-LI. Her efforts have helped small businesses collaborate and find solutions, addressing concerns about hiring, business development, and financing.
HIA-LI also took a critical step in its advocacy this fall when we hosted our first Board of Directors Legislative Breakfast where we discussed these 3 initiatives directly with our Federal, State and local officials. As a result, we gained and are continuing to gain critical legislative support to keep moving Long Island forward.
All of this shows that the HIA-LI and the HIP are more than just a random collection of buildings. They are a necessary part of the long island economic ecosystem and something that everyone in this room should be proud of.
And so I ask you to join me in raising your glass to the first 40 years of HIA-LI.