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Oct 23, 2018 4:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Forum Highlights Plans To Improve East End Economy

Local officials and business leaders gathered at The Spur in Southampton Village Monday night, waiting for the event to start. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Oct 23, 2018 4:40 PM

Local officials and business executives attended an event in Southampton Village on Monday night to celebrate the evolving East End economy and discuss how they can work to further diversify local businesses.

The Long Island Association and the Southampton Business Alliance hosted the event, “‘Spurring’ Growth and Innovation,” at The Spur, a collaborative working space that gives business people and innovators an exclusive place to network and develop new ideas.

Special guests included U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, and Southampton Mayor Michael Irving, as well as Theresa Ward, Suffolk County chief deputy commissioner for economic development, who represented Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

The hosts and special guests alike emphasized the need to increase diversification in industries as well as workforce, encouraging more local start-ups and attracting talent typically found in New York City to create a more robust, year-round economy. The Spur, being itself a start-up, aims to help create that type of economy.

“The ambition is that the youth and the brains and the beauty, when they finish graduate school, will be able to work here, not automatically presupposed they have to go into New York City,” Gary Bierfriend, president and COO of The Spur, said of his company. He added that, conversely, the aim is also to encourage people from the city to move to and work in the area: “Now we’re creating a beacon of hope and saying, ‘Hey, you can be commercial, responsible, industrious—and work right here in Southampton.’”

Mr. Zeldin spoke about the need for more full-time jobs on the South Fork to retain members of the community year-round. “I think one of the best things we can say about the potential for The Spur is to have more year-round, good-paying jobs, so that those young men, young women, coming out of college can come back home, and maybe some new recruits, too, can come out here to live full-time,” he said.

Mr. Schneiderman talked briefly about his recent work in Southampton to boost the local economy. He reassured the audience that the South Fork Commuter Connection, which will give commuters a Long Island Rail Road-and-shuttle option, will be operational in March 2019. He also noted that a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Riverside traffic circle would take place on Friday.

Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, discussed how his team at Accelerate Long Island was administering two early stage seed funds to invest in 10 local start-ups in the energy and biotechnology sectors. He announced that they “already completely subscribed” the first fund and are in the middle of the second fund.

He also mentioned how Accelerate Long Island—a collaboration between Long Island’s research institutions and its business community to commercialize technologies—has created a “research corridor” on the island comprising Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Northwell Health and Hofstra University. Together, they draw in federal and state funding.

Mr. Law directed his final announcement at The Spur. As co-chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, he recommends different local projects to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to possibly receive state funding, and this year, he recommended The Spur.

Mr. Cuomo announces the hundreds of regional winners at the annual REDC Awards Ceremony in Albany in December. “We’ll know in December if, in fact, The Spur will be getting money and how much money, but I feel pretty confident about our chances,” Mr. Law said.

The state money would benefit the company as it is currently constructing a new, 32,000-square-foot building on Hampton Road in Southampton Village. Officials are looking to move into the new location by Memorial Day.

“We have strong feelings that great things are about to happen for The Spur, and that means that great things are going to happen for the economy here on the South Fork,” Mr. Thiele said.

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