A rendering of the proposed Midway Crossing development in Ronkonkoma....

A rendering of the proposed Midway Crossing development in Ronkonkoma.

Credit: Jones Lang LaSalle

Once in every generation there is an inflection point that fundamentally shapes the future of our hometown, Long Island.

Years ago, our leaders successfully pivoted the region away from the defense industry to life sciences and health care.

Strategic investments have resulted in a strong health care network and a research corridor stretching across Long Island. These were the fundamental building blocks to construct a strong life sciences sector.

The proposed Midway Crossing project in Ronkonkoma represents another inflection point to make strategic investments to benefit Long Island’s future. Its mission dovetails with that of Northwell Health — improving community health with advanced medical care, top-flight research, and innovation bolstered by the collaborative efforts of industry partners.

Midway Crossing also aims to attract and unite scientific institutions in a new life sciences hub. Leading local biotech firms like Applied DNA Sciences would anchor the facilities, which would include a STEM educational center, research labs, biotech manufacturing facilities, health care offices, a hotel and convention center.

Developer Jones Lang LaSalle is poised to build Midway Crossing on 179 acres of public land around the Ronkonkoma train station, which would be newly connected to an improved MacArthur Airport.

The Suffolk County Legislature and the Islip Town council recently approved the project, which is seeking help on infrastructure costs from the state’s Long Island Investment Fund program and other public funds. 

At a construction cost of roughly $2.55 billion (mostly private dollars), Midway Crossing will produce about 9,300 career-track jobs, including 4,300 science, technology, engineering and health care positions with annual salaries typically well over $100,000, according to a University of Michigan economist’s analysis.

At Midway Crossing, biotech firms, startup employees, and top health care practitioners could work with scientists from institutions like Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, and Stony Brook University.

Strong unions between health care providers and scientists can raise the standard of care locally and create powerful innovations like new mRNA vaccines, which saved countless lives during the pandemic, and targeted treatments based on patients’ DNA.

Midway Crossing would inspire people to work on Long Island, not leave it, while pumping an estimated $4.3 billion in taxes, tourist dollars, and salaries into the regional economy annually at full build-out, economists project.

Inaction is not an option — not when census data shows the number of Long Island residents under age 19 dropped 7.5% in the seven years before 2020. Recent polls, including one by the former Long Island Index, indicate that about two of three Long Islanders ages 18 to 34 intend to move out of the area in the next five years, largely due to a lack of good-paying jobs.

Imagine how dynamic Long Island’s economy would become if we enticed more young people to move and stay here to work, shop, enjoy recreational opportunities, and travel via a new state-of-the-art MacArthur Airport terminal.

They would travel swiftly to Midway Crossing and the airport thanks to new Long Island Rail Road tracks and the railroad’s new service to midtown Manhattan's East Side opening in December.

Now is the time to support a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Midway Crossing — the region's best chance to make this long-dreamed-of commercial, scientific, and health care hub a reality.

This guest essay reflects the views of Michael Dowling, president and chief executive of Northwell Health, and James Hayward, president and chief executive of Applied DNA Sciences.

This guest essay reflects the views of Michael Dowling, president and chief executive of Northwell Health, and James Hayward, president and chief executive of Applied DNA Sciences.