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IDAs band together for $100,000 ad campaign to attract businesses

Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of Discover Long

Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of Discover Long Island, speaks during a Long Island Association meeting in March.  Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island’s eight industrial development agencies are collaborating on a proposed $100,000 advertising campaign to attract new businesses to the region, officials said.

The Nassau County IDA agreed Thursday night to contribute $11,500 to the potential campaign, which would be run by the tourism promotion agency Discover Long Island.

Approvals from the region's seven other IDAs are expected to follow in coming weeks to reach a total of $50,000. Discover Long Island then will apply for a $50,000 matching grant from the utility company National Grid.

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel said it's unusual for IDAs to cooperate. Each offers tax breaks to expanding businesses in return for promised job creation and investment. Money for the ad campaign comes from fees charged to IDA clients, not taxpayer dollars.

“This is a unique cooperative effort that hasn’t been done too much in the past,” Kessel said on Thursday.

The IDAs' ad campaign is part of “BeLONG on Long Island,” a new campaign from Discover Long Island, according to Harry Coghlan, CEO of the Nassau IDA.

The campaign by the IDAs will include a region-focused website where out-of-state companies can learn about the economic and labor advantages of Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to a resolution adopted unanimously by the IDA board.

Discover Long Island CEO Kristen Jarnagin said the marketing push by the IDAs comes on the heels of a research report commissioned by her group that found “Long Island is a brand with strong name recognition.”

She added, “It has been proven that increasing visitation to a destination leads to a more favorable perception, and ultimately increased economic opportunities.”

Among the eight IDAs, six have pledged to contribute money for the ads and two will lend staff expertise.

William Mannix, executive director of the Islip Town IDA, said what he and other IDA officials are proposing is already being done across the country. Local IDAs “need to recognize the benefit of regional branding and marketing by pooling their resources and acting collectively,” he said.

The ad campaign will reach a larger audience than the Riverhead Town IDA could on its own, according to that agency's CEO, Tracy Stark-James. The Riverhead IDA has one of the smallest IDA staffs.

If the ads are successful, they could lead to other joint initiatives by the Island's IDAs.

Anthony J. Catapano, executive director of the Suffolk County IDA, said, “We hope this effort serves to lay the foundation for sustained and successful collaborations moving forward.”

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