‘Charting the Course’ builds bridge between government, business community
(Long Island, NY) Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and his colleagues last week took a major step in their mission to build a stronger bridge between the business community and local government when they hosted “Charting the Course,” a free seminar for small business owners.
The daylong seminar, held June 24 at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, drew more than 120 attendees who made business connections and were given an opportunity to speak directly with the people who can help their businesses grow and prosper.
At “Charting the Course” are, from left: Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun McKay with the main panelists, Joanne Minieri, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning; Gina Coletti of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers; New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre; moderator Dr. Martin Cantor; Suffolk County Legislators Kara Hahn and Al Krupski; Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute and the Suffolk County representative to the MTA Board; Jon Cooper, president of Spectronics; Anne Shybunko-Moore, president of GSE Dynamics Inc. and founder of the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island; and co-host Suffolk County Legislator William J. Lindsay III. Photo Credit: Suffolk County.
“One of the goals of the seminar was to help small business owners see local government not as an impediment, but as a partner in growth,” said Presiding Officer Gregory, who hosted the event. “In the Suffolk County Legislature, we want to work more closely with businesses to maximize private and public sector cooperation, ease some of the regulatory hurdles that new and existing businesses face, support strategic outreach and networking opportunities, and develop programs for worker training. This is how we will help give the next generation the ability to call Long Island home.”
“Small business creation today drives future innovation and leads to long-term growth and sustainability,” added Suffolk County Legislator William J. Lindsay III, who represents the 8th Legislative District and chairs the legislature’s Economic Development Committee. He co-hosted the event with Presiding Officer Gregory. “However, for far too long, government red tape has stood in the way of business development. Fortunately, we are starting to rethink how we do business here in Suffolk County. The partnerships created here today will help us develop more business friendly policies and make it easier for our residents to start a business and grow that business to unprecedented success.”
The day began with a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Martin Cantor about how small businesses can benefit from key economic drivers like infrastructure, manufacturing and tourism, and what resources the government offers to help business owners drive their companies forward.
“The most important aspect of the event was the need to bring awareness to our small businesses of the many opportunities which are available to assist them in being successful in Suffolk County,” said panelist Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute and the Suffolk County representative to the MTA Board. “Many government agencies, including the MTA/LIRR, have specific programs to provide procurement options for the goods and services which many small businesses provide. It is essential that our small businesses take advantage of these programs so that they can succeed and create new jobs in our community.”
“I received a tremendous amount of feedback from those who attended ‘Charting the Course’ that emphasized the genuine desire and commitment that Long Islanders want to be part of a positive solution in how we approach the economic challenges facing our region,” added panelist Anne Shybunko-Moore, president of GSE Dynamics Inc. and founder of the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island. “People want to see progress and want to see positive change, and I am prepared to be part of the solution and strategy for Long Islanders.”
Enjoying “A Taste of Suffolk” are, from left: event host Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, Gina Coletti of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, “Taste of Suffolk” vendor Crepe Snacks, Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun McKay, and Bob Fonti, aide to Presiding Officer Gregory. Photo Credit: Suffolk County.
Other panelists included Gina Coletti of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers; Jon Cooper, former legislator and president of Spectronics; and Joanne Minieri, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning. Suffolk County Legislators Al Krupski and Kara Hahn and New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre joined them on the panel.
“It is essential the business community and government communicate effectively so government understands the best way to help businesses thrive in Suffolk County,” said Legislator Krupski, who represents Suffolk’s North Fork. “I want to thank Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory for hosting this important event.”
After the panel, nearly 20 other industry leaders facilitated small discussions during breakout sessions on building a pipeline for sales, workforce development, access to financing, and how government can help businesses navigate processes like securing permits and making business plans.
“‘Charting the Course’ was a fantastic event that brought together so many experienced voices from the world of economic development,” said Suffolk County Legislature Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “Suffolk County’s economy is strong and growing thanks to public, private and non-governmental partnerships. Thank you to Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory for hosting this event.”
After the breakout sessions, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spoke about his vision for Suffolk County’s economic future and praised its progress and potential before welcoming Frank Boulton, founder and CEO of the Long Island Ducks, who made a tremendous economic impact on the region since founding the baseball organization in Central Islip in 2000.
“I’d like to thank Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Suffolk County Legislator Bill Lindsay III for hosting this forum and engaging our small business community in a meaningful dialogue on how to grow the region’s economy,” said County Executive Bellone. “Suffolk is home to world-class assets that attract millions of visitors each year – including our world-class beaches, world-renowned wine country, award-winning breweries and vibrant downtowns. We must continue to build upon our key assets in order to create an environment where businesses can thrive.”
Attendees then enjoyed “A Taste of Suffolk,” a wide spread of samples from more than a dozen restaurants and food suppliers from across Suffolk County. The room was lined with culinary treats, including fresh strawberries from the Long Island Farm Bureau, East End wine from the Long Island Wine Council, and beer tastings from Blue Point Brewing Company. Other “A Taste of Suffolk” participants included Akropolis Greek Restaurant in Nesconset, Albert’s Mandarin Gourmet in Huntington, A Rise Above Bake Shop in Huntington, Bonappetito Pizzeria and Ristorante in Smithtown, Crepe Snacks, LLC in Lake Ronkonkoma, Del Fuego, Lucky Lou’s Gourmet Rice Pudding in Calverton, Mama Sbarro Pizzeria in Hauppauge, Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet in Bayport, Panico’s Community Market in Smithtown, and Reinwald’s Bakery in Huntington.
Small business owners and advocates in attendance said they found the event to be a helpful stepping stone and a sign of increased collaboration between the business community and local government.
“This well-attended, well-planned event was a giant step for the many associations, chambers, political officials, civic associations and business groups to gather, exchange ideas and information, discuss future projects and obtain guidance on how to create more business locally,” said attendee Barbara Franco, executive director of the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce.
“My appreciation to the committee for a very successful educational event,” said Elisabeth Zamarelli, Ph.D., of Stony Brook. “I left with a clear description and appraisal of the concerns of Suffolk County: education, using and keeping the many diverse talents of our youth, revitalizing our downtowns, implementing better infrastructure, the importance of manufacturing to our economy here in Suffolk, and how to maximize the appeal to keep our college graduates local while they earn quality jobs and appropriate living spaces. In all, the event was outstanding and the food, prepared and donated by local businesses, was second to none.”
Many speakers commended venue host Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun McKay for guiding the college through an age where demands on students and workforce recruitment are changing.
“Suffolk County Community College with the support of the presiding officer, the legislature and county executive, continues to foster longstanding strategic partnerships with Long Island’s small business and manufacturing communities by preparing students for the high-tech jobs being created as well as helping businesses stay competitive by training their incumbent workers,” said Dr. McKay.
Presiding Officer Gregory wishes to thank all the sponsors and participants of “Charting the Course,” including premier sponsor, the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers; financial sponsors, Chase Mortgage Banking and Giachetti Law Firm; supporting sponsors, Commercial Industrial Brokers Society, Long Island Payroll Xperts, Inc., and Smith & DeGroat Real Estate; promotional sponsors, American Red Cross on Long Island, Bradley Marketing Group, Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. and North Fork Potato Chips; and “A Taste of Suffolk” sponsors, the Long Island Ducks and the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, as well as all the vendors.
He also thanks all breakout discussion leaders: Richard Amsterdam, senior vice-president at the New York Business Development Corp.; David Chiaro, veteran business adviser at Farmingdale State College’s Small Business Development Center; Jill Clough-Johnston, Brookhaven National Laboratory’s small business liaison officer; Jennifer Culp, Craig Knepper and Christopher Sortino of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services; John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor; Mark Grossman of Mark Grossman Public Relations; Rachel Hersh, northeast region sales director at Prestige Capital Corporation; Charles Jaquin, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ general services manager; John Lombardo, associate vice-president of workforce and economic development at Suffolk Community College; Kelly Morris, deputy executive director of the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency; Rich Oakley, assistant chief program officer at MTA/LIRR; David Pennetta, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield; Dr. Nathalia Rogers, director of the American Communities Institute and founder of the Long Island Youth Summit; Bernard Ryba of the Stony Brook University Small Business Development Center; and Elana Zolfo, vice-president of workforce development at ADDAPT.