“We’re missing out on a lot of opportunities by not...

“We’re missing out on a lot of opportunities by not having a dedicated Economic Development Organization," said Cara Longworth, executive director of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Credit: Corey Sipkin

The creation of a private-sector entity dedicated to attracting large employers to Long Island is being weighed by local business executives, union leaders, educators and nonprofit officials.

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, whose members are appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, has formed a study committee to explore establishing an Economic Development Organization, or EDO, for the Island.

Many of the state’s regions, including Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany, already have EDOs.

The organizations have been instrumental in attracting tens of billions of dollars in new factories to upstate, most notably semiconductor makers Micron Technology Inc. to the Syracuse suburb of Clay and GlobalFoundries to Malta, north of Albany, said Cara Longworth, the council’s executive director.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Local leaders are examining whether Long Island needs a new dedicated entity to attract large employers and help them to set up shop here.
  • The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council is exploring the creation of an Economic Development Organization that would be funded by businesses and be separate from government.
  • EDOs in other parts of New York State have been credited with bringing semiconductor factories.

“We’re missing out on a lot of opportunities by not having a dedicated Economic Development Organization …[that] markets the region outside of the region, that helps big companies with site selection” for a new facility and secures federal grants, she told a council meeting held last week on Suffolk County Community College’s Ammerman campus in Selden.

Longworth pointed to the development council’s 2023 Strategic Plan which found the number of jobs on Long Island increased 2% from 2011 to 2021 compared with 12% nationwide in the same period.

“Long Island must attract major employers while growing existing businesses,” the plan states.

Longworth said the proposed EDO wouldn’t supplant the work of town planning departments, industrial development agencies, business advocacy groups or trade associations.

“We have wonderful groups that do regionalized planning but none of them is mission-driven purely on economic development and business attraction from outside the region,” she said.

The study committee that’s looking into whether to establish an EDO is led by council member Kyle Strober, executive director of the developers’ group Association for a Better Long Island, and Kelly Murphy, acting executive director of the Suffolk County IDA.

Strober said, “We don’t have a site selection organization, a group that goes out and identifies areas that can be used for businesses looking to move to Long Island. We also don’t have a group that goes out and recruits businesses to Long Island. So, it’s worth looking into …[EDOs are] something that our competing regions have and utilize really well. Why shouldn’t we?”

One upstate EDO, CenterState CEO in Syracuse, has been credited with helping to bring Micron to New York State in one of the biggest deals ever. 

Idaho-based Micron has committed to spending up to $100 billion to construct what it says will be “the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the history of the United States.”

President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Gov. Kathy...

President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Gov. Kathy Hochul look at a 3D rendering of a future Micron factory near Syracuse in 2022.  Credit: AFP via Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

Nearly 50,000 jobs would be created over the next 20-plus years in New York State, with 9,000 at the Micron factory, the company's CEO, Sanjay Mehrotra, said in 2022 when the deal was announced with Hochul and President Joe Biden.  

Development council member Jim Morgo, a former chairman of the Suffolk IDA board, said last week that it would be crucial for the EDO to work with Long Island's eight IDAs, which provide tax breaks to expanding companies.

Council member Phil Rugile, an advocate for offshore wind farms and skills training for workers, asked about how the EDO would be funded and if it would have employees.

Longworth, who also serves as regional director of Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, responded that the state’s other EDOs are nonprofits with paid staff and funding from the private sector.

“They are all privately funded by businesses,” she said.

The study committee is accepting input from the public via email at LIREDC@esd.ny.gov.

Spokesmen for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine weren’t able to comment.

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