Thought Leadership Series: Perspective on Long Island’s Current and Future Economy

November 12th, 2015

On October 20, 2015, First Long Island Investors hosted a thought leadership breakfast for clients and friends of the firm.  The session was led by Kevin S. Law, President and CEO of the Long Island Association and Robert D. Rosenthal, our CEO.  Kevin has led the LIA since September of 2010 and is focused on economic development and creating a better business climate on Long Island to strengthen it as a place to live, work, and do business.

Photo of Robert D. Rosenthal and Kevin S. Law

From left, Robert D. Rosenthal and Kevin S. Law.

Kevin made the following key points:

  • Long Island has several challenges:
    • It is a high cost area with both high property taxes and high energy costs.  Additionally, it is a high traffic area.
    • Demographically, the biggest challenge is that the size of the population is staying the same, but overall getting older.  There have been about 2.8 million people on the island for the last 10 years.  However, Long Island is losing 20-34 year olds and residents are not having as many children.
      • One of the reasons Long Island is losing 20-34 year olds is that while we have single-family housing units, there are not a lot of multi-family units which makes affordable housing for a single person more difficult to come by.
  • Alternatively, Long Island also has a lot of assets:
    • We have one of the best educated and trained work forces.
    • The public school systems on Long Island are very good, making it a desirable place to raise a family.  Additionally, there are a number of beautiful environmental landmarks on Long Island – parks, beaches, etc.
    • Long Island is in close proximity to New York City.
    • The gross domestic product of Long Island is $140 billion.
    • Long Island has recovered from the 2008 recession – unemployment is under 5% and real estate prices have recovered.  However, the economy is not growing.
  • The Long Island Association, under Kevin’s leadership, is working on and supporting a number of very interesting projects designed to improve Long Island’s economy and working on obtaining state and federal funding for these projects.
    • Kevin is actively working on getting more investment money from the government.  We send $5 billion more to Albany than we get back in investments and we send $23 billion more to Washington than we get back.  Some of this is due to the fact that governments tend to focus more on cities than the suburbs.
    • Some of the projects underway and/or under review include the following:
      • The redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area.  The coliseum is being redone, but will not have a professional team.  There will be an adjacent, new, tiered parking structure, half underground, half above ground.  The Nassau Hub plans include a new biotechnology center that will be focusing on researching ways to deal with pain through electronics.
      • There are a number of projects underway that together are designed to create a science and technology epicenter on Long Island.  Two notable initiatives are the development of a super computer building at Stony Brook and a new startup vaccine company in Farmingdale.
  • The LIA is more focused on providing ways for companies that are here to stay and grow rather than initiatives to attract new companies.
  • Infrastructure is a key area for investment on Long Island.  Two-thirds of Suffolk County does not have proper sewage infrastructure.  Investment in the railroad and access to New York City is critical to the future of Long Island.  Thirty percent of Nassau County residents work in the city and those residents account for fifty percent of revenues of Nassau County businesses.

Kevin concluded the session by reminding attendees that there are three things that we as Long Islanders should never forget or take lightly: the environment, our schools, and public safety.  The degradation of any of these three things would have a negative impact on our economy.