HIA-LI Board of Directors Legislative Breakfast

Good morning, everyone and thank you, Terri.  As mentioned, my name is Joe Campolo and I proudly serve as the Managing Partner of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, and just as proudly I serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HIA-LI.  It’s wonderful to have so many distinguished guests and friends joining us today at our Legislative Breakfast.

Today we are here to discuss with you the HIA-LI, which to us is a truly remarkable place.  While it undoubtedly serves as the leading organization on Long Island for making business connections, many don’t know that it also acts as the watchdog and chief advocate for the Hauppauge Industrial Park, a tiny 11 square mile patch of land located primarily within the town of Smithtown, with a small piece in the town of Islip.  Contained within these 11 square miles are about 1,400 companies run by some of the most innovative minds in the country. I’d like to share a few remarks with you today about this amazing ecosystem.

My own personal journey to the Hauppauge Industrial Park came as a result of studying Warren Buffet, the greatest investor of all time.  You see, Warren is a strong advocate of “value” investing, whereby you look for companies the market has significantly undervalued – the proverbial “diamonds in the rough” – and you invest in them and hold them for the long haul.  As a young lawyer, I didn’t have much capital to invest, but I did have time, and I reasoned that time, invested correctly, could have the same long-term impact as invested capital. So more than 20 years ago, I took a page from Warren’s playbook and looked for those places here on Long Island that I felt were diamonds in the rough.

The first place I identified was Stony Brook University, my alma mater.  Today, Stony brook is unquestionably not only a top university, but also a top economic powerhouse on Long Island, but it wasn’t always that way.  As a student at Stony Brook, I found that it was occupied by some of the brightest people, both faculty and students, that I had ever encountered.  The President of the University at that time was Jack Marburger, a brilliant physicist educated at Stanford, whose vision was to create a top-notch university with a focus on the hard sciences like engineering and math.  And while he clearly accomplished that, and more, from a student’s perspective there was always something missing.  The campus itself was quite frankly a dump, and the university just simply couldn’t seem to ever get enough resources to uncover that diamond it was hiding.  Yet I still felt it had such strong potential, so I stayed connected with Stony Brook and after graduating from law school invested more into it by joining the Alumni Association board of directors.

And it was right about that time that magic started to happen at Stony Brook, it reached its tipping point—and while I would like to think it was because of me, it wasn’t – the magic started to happen because there was a new president of the University, Shirley Kenny, a fiery woman from Texas who was determined to get the resources, both public and private, Stony Brook needed to get to the next level.  She believed that by investing in the infrastructure of the University, the true genius it contained could be tapped and revealed. Clearly, she was right.  Today Stony Brook is a top 100 academic university worldwide, with award-winning faculty and students who go on to do amazing things; it has a division one sports program whose athletes compete at the highest levels; it has a statewide center of excellence in wireless information technology, five or six business incubators, a world-class medical facility, and the list goes on and on.

The story of the growth and accomplishments of Stony Brook is so remarkable that it is impossible to ignore.  And while there are many things that have led to its success, in my opinion the most critical was the tireless advocacy by the folks in Stony Brook leadership to our elected officials that if Stony Brook was able to build a student-friendly infrastructure, it would excel beyond all expectations.  As for elected officials, we know that you have many competing interests and constituencies to balance, and sometimes it takes a big stick to get your attention! So Stony Brook created that stick in the form of an economic impact study, which demonstrated in dollars all the economic stimulation that Stony Brook University was generating in the region, and that was the AHA moment.

Once we could clearly document and articulate the billions and billions of dollars, and more importantly tax dollars, that Stony Brook was generating and stimulating, then elected officials had no choice but to take notice and render their support. And now, not coincidentally, Stony Brook students play their football games in the Senator Kenneth LaValle stadium.

However, while I watching this amazing growth happen, I quickly realized that the success of Stony Brook story was only helping Long Island half way; I mean what good is it to have this University annually produce thousands of highly qualified workers if we don’t have the jobs here on Long Island to retain them?  Which leads me to my second value-based investment, which I made a little over 10 years ago, in the HIA-LI.  To me, the growth potentials of both these organization are aligned, and combined can synergize economic growth and development on Long Island for decades. This is exactly why the Hauppauge Industrial Park was formed, to be an economic hub to foster job growth and innovation – in fact it is the second largest industrial park in the country, behind only Silicon Valley (which, ironically, used to be called the Stanford Industrial Park before a little chip was developed there).

Our mission at the HIA-LI is do everything we can to help ensure that the Park remains a thriving economic engine.  To that end, we have taken a play from Stony Brook, and led by our own fiery woman, Terri Alessi-Miceli, last year we commissioned an Economic Impact Study with graduate students from Stony Brook University to measure the economic impact of the Park on Long Island and the region.  The results of the study shocked even us. Here are some of the facts this project uncovered:

  • This 11-square mile area is home to approximately 1,400 companies that employ 55,000 people.
  • One in 20 jobs on Long Island depends on the Park.
  • 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 help us create a plan for infrastructure that will enable residents of the park to maximize their 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 and his administration, including Councilman Tom Lohmann, as well as Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, have 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.  So to Ed and Tom I say thank you.

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. By studying the success of Silicon Valley, we realized that a huge factor in its success is its partnership with Stanford University, which provides those companies with a consistent stream of talent. Learning that, we realized that we must directly collaborate with our great universities and colleges. And so,  we are creating a unique and direct 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 (a lifelong educator) 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.

We have also created, based on direct feedback from companies in the park and students, job fairs exclusively for companies in the Park so those amazing companies have a direct platform and pipeline to the likewise amazing talent that is here on Long Island.  With these initiatives, and others that you will hear about today, 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.

All of this demonstrates that 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 Terri and her staff, along with all my talented board members,  to keep these important initiatives moving forward.

Of course, none of this could be accomplished without the support of all of you, our elected officials, many of whom see the value and support the Park, and some who still need convincing! In addition to Supervisors Wehrheim and Carpenter, we have and continue to receive strong support from Suffolk County, where we are fortunate to have a strong relationship with and support from both the Legislature and County Executive’s office. At our recent Business Achievement Awards celebration I was happy to see many State representatives in the room, including folks from Governor Cuomo’s office, demonstrating that Albany is beginning to understand and support our initiatives. This is very good to see, as we cannot do this alone and need all of your help.

So what’s next? Plenty.  Another critical initiative we will undertake in 2019 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.  Appropriate housing will round out and complete the mission of attracting and retaining the best and the brightest who can receive a top notch education, work for some of the most innovative companies in the world, and live all right here on Long Island.

We are also in the process of creating a buying consortium among Park businesses, so that they can bundle their purchasing needs and save valuable dollars on expenses that can used for jobs and innovation.

We are going to be collaborating with other Long Island universities and high schools, to scale out the success we are seeing with Stony Brook.

And we are even launching a contest to rename and rebrand the Park to instill a sense of pride in this powerful economic engine. As you can see, here at the HIA-LI we are just getting started!

And now I’m very happy to introduce my fellow board member Scott Maskin, Co-Founder and CEO of SUNation, who has been working incredibly hard on HIA-LI’s new energy initiative, with the goal of helping business owners prosper by investing in renewable energy and drastically lowering their energy bills.

I want to thank you all for your support as we continue to work together to move our beloved island forward.