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Report: LI could 'stagnate' without focus on biomedical industry, housing

A study released Tuesday by the Long Island

A study released Tuesday by the Long Island Index stresses the benefits to the region of fostering its small biomedical sector and boosting its supply of multifamily housing. Above, Mill Creek Residential Trust continues construction on a market-rate apartment building on Old Country Road in Mineola on Dec. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A study released Tuesday by the Long Island Index projects that the region could "stagnate over the next twenty-five years" if expanding multifamily housing and the biomedical industry aren't made priorities.

The Index, an organization that explores and reports on Long Island issues, commissioned HR&A Advisors Inc., a New York City economic development consultancy, to study census and other government data, and to project what the region would look like in 2040.

The report, "Long Island's Future: Economic Implications of Today's Choices," stresses the benefits to the region of fostering its small biomedical sector and boosting its supply of multifamily housing, particularly when situated near public transit.

"We wanted to wake people up to what's going on in our economy," said Ann Golob, director of the Long Island Index.

The study projects that, without efforts to boost growth and housing, Long Island would add 3,000 jobs a year through 2040, down sharply from 13,000 jobs a year in the 2000s.

The number of Long Islanders ages 25-34 has declined because of limited job and housing opportunities, the report said. They represented 10.9 percent of Long Island's population in 2010, down from 16.5 percent in 1990. The study projects that age group would grow slightly from its current 329,000 to 350,000 in 25 years. The Island's overall population would grow from 2.86 million to 3 million, the report said.

As population and economic growth slow, property taxes would rise by as much as $7,100 in Nassau and $5,900 in Suffolk by 2040, the report estimated.

The report said population growth could benefit from strengthening the Island's fledgling biomedical economy and boosting availability of multifamily housing. Such actions could add 82,000 to 138,000 residents beyond the projected population for 2040 -- including 12,000 to 23,000 aged 25 to 34.

Similarly, the study projected that growing biomedical companies and multifamily housing would boost Long Island employment by an extra 44,500 to 73,000 jobs.

While the Island's Gross Regional Product is expected to go from $168.9 billion today to $258.5 billion in 2040, the report said it could add an additional $9.5 billion to $15.1 billion to its output if it took actions to spur growth and housing.

Mark Lesko, executive director of Accelerate Long Island, which promotes high-tech company growth, said after publication of the report, "I firmly believe life sciences and biotech is where we should place our bet."

"All these issues relate to one another, so they all have to be addressed simultaneously," said Kevin Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business organization.

Law said that he will present the results of the Index study at the next meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which helps distribute state business aid.

As part of the Index's report, the City University of New York Graduate Center's Mapping Service created interactive maps to show how the Long Island economy and population have changed over the last 40 years. See them at: historiccensus.longislandindexmaps.org

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