It shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it was still very telling that the percentage of 248 local chief executives who rated Long Island’s availability of affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, and local government support as “excellent” was ZERO. The key finding in the new Long Island Business Leaders Survey, really, is this: Nothing’s changed.
What the Siena College Research Institute poll shows is that there is a critical need to address the region’s high cost of living, traffic congestion, lack of public transit — and the troublesome way government seems to make doing business here far too difficult.
Perhaps we sound repetitive. It’s been discussed for decades. But we’re at a turning point. Long Island is trying to build new businesses and industries, like biotechnology. Advocates brim with excitement as they talk of creating a glorious corridor that connects our universities, transit-oriented developments and fledgling companies.
But when a company like General Electric leaves its hometown in Connecticut for Boston, there are lessons to be learned here, as we try to grow our own future GEs. In part, it’s about lowering the cost of doing business. But success is also about creating a critical mass, so that a ripe crop of technology companies and employees is surrounded by other technology companies and employees, so they all can develop, grow and stay. To do that, this region must focus its energy on creating the affordable housing, transit-oriented development and mass transit improvements that Long Islanders have talked about for far too long.
Most important, local government has to get on board. Officials must make it easier to build a business, add a warehouse, create a new store or move to a new complex. They must make it easier to grow.