Long Island business and political leaders are still dealing with the shock of Amazon’s decision to cancel its planned development in Long Island City. The promise of 25,000 new jobs held out the possibility that many of those employees either would come from this area or would settle here, creating a new and long-term source of tax dollars and economic growth for the region.
I have long since learned that when there is a setback of some kind you sift through the ashes and try to come up with new ideas that will compensate for the losses. There are plenty of things that our bi-county elected officials can do to move us forward. Nassau and Suffolk counties boast of having more than three million residents, great schools and many natural resources. Regrettably, for many years, we have failed to promote ourselves as one region that has world-class companies, great talent and institutions that would happily contribute to a new Long Island.
The two counties and many towns compete separately for companies to relocate or expand in their area. If you read the handful of airline magazines or scan the Internet, you will find that in other parts of the country, numerous counties band together to promote their assets and cast aside local rivalries. Step one is for Nassau and Suffolk to embark on a joint campaign to promote what a great place Long Island is to live and work.
Everyone agrees that the Hub development, adjacent to Hofstra University, must succeed in attracting new businesses and exciting attractions for our residents and visitors. The project is moving along in capable hands and with a highly respected developer. But the Hub alone will not save us. Efforts are being made to build new projects in downtown areas that have direct access to mass transit. Those plans are slowly coming to life, but if the two counties worked together on finding other similar projects, it wouldn’t matter where the new downtown would be.
There are currently a small number of companies that are building more affordable housing. Nassau and Suffolk should work together to encourage more builders to find sites to accommodate our younger residents, who are faced with finding apartments that they can afford. The LIRR Third Track project promises to make the daily commute much shorter for our young work force, but they need housing to keep them here.
In fairness, this is not just a challenge for the two county leaders. Other elected officials must cast aside their local thinking and become part of the team that makes this region the economic engine that it deserves to be.
Former State Assemblyman Jerry Kremer is a columnist for Long Island Weekly and partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.