LI development agency plans jobs-growth forums

New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy speaks to

New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy speaks to media as Long Island Association president Kevin Law looks on after a meeting Wednesday of the Long Island Economic Council in Stony Brook. (Aug. 10, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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After meeting privately Wednesday for the first time, the Long Island Economic Development Council announced plans for at least two forums for residents to offer ideas about spurring job growth.

Kevin Law, the council's co-vice chairman, said he hopes to hold one session next month to gather ideas and another in October for public feedback on a five-year development plan. That plan is due to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration by Nov. 14.

Cuomo established 10 councils across the state to compete for up to $1 billion in state grants and tax credits during 2011-12. The councils will initially vie for $200 million, with the best plans receiving the most aid.

The local group met Wednesday at Stony Brook University's Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology. The 22 voting members are drawn from business, labor and education. The Nassau and Suffolk County executives and the supervisors of Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Brookhaven and Islip towns serve as advisers.

"We absolutely want the public to be involved," said Law, president of the Long Island Association business group.

He urged residents to submit ideas by clicking on the "suggestions" tab on the right side of the Long Island page of the website.

Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy is chairman of all 10 councils. He said he would attend every meeting of every council. Each council is expected to convene six times, or roughly every other week between now and mid-November.

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Duffy said the next session of the Long Island council, on Aug. 23, would be open to the public. He said he made the first one private so council members could get to know each other and complete organizational tasks with less stress. Such secrecy sparked a protest in Syracuse but none locally. The councils aren't subject to the state's open-meeting law.

"This is the governor's No. 1 priority; it's about regionally based economic development," Duffy said. "As opposed to the state being an impediment [to business development], we want to be a facilitator."

Kenneth Adams, president of Empire State Development Corp., said the Long Island council, like others across the state, will have working groups that include people not on the councils, especially members of industrial-development agencies. Locally, some IDA officials were miffed Cuomo didn't include them on the council.

During yesterday's three-hour meeting participants said the area's assets, disadvantages and opportunities were identified, though not publicly disclosed.

One topic not discussed was what to do with Nassau's Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the wake of last week's defeat of a public referendum on replacing the aging home of the Islanders hockey team. "It did not come up," Law said. "I'm sure the working groups will be discussing it along with other regionally significant projects."

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