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Riverhead asks to join high-tech plan

Technicians inside a giant magnet at Brookhaven National

Technicians inside a giant magnet at Brookhaven National Lab. Credit: Newsday

The announcement of a new effort to spur high-tech jobs on Long Island wasn’t even over Monday morning when Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter crashed it and pledged his support.

“We’re done with the ski mountains and the drag strips,” Walter said of past stillborn efforts to develop the Calverton Enterprise Park, the former Grumman factory that’s been under town control for more than a decade. “It’s time to get serious.”

Walter arrived, slightly breathless, at Stony Brook University’s Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, where Sen. Chuck Schumer and the heads of Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory were announcing an effort to collaborate not only on research, but also on efforts to turn that work into well-paying high-tech jobs on Long Island.

“We have three of the greatest research institutions in the country, not just on Long Island,” Schumer said. “Today’s meeting could be historic. It has the potential to create the kinds of jobs on Long Island that the defense industry once did.”

“I think this is exactly the right thing to do for economic development on Long Island,” said Brookhaven lab director Samuel Aronson.

“We do have an extraordinary powerhouse of research,” said Bruce Stillman, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “Between these three institutions, we have everything we need.”

The key is overcoming obstacles between high-level research and creating companies that make money.

Stony Brook president Samuel Stanley said space and over-regulation are two factors that inhibit new high-tech companies from setting up shop on Long Island. Business parks that are user-friendly to new companies and allow them to tap into the resources of the research giants would help, he said.

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