LIA: Turning Words Into Economic Action

Posted on June 15, 2012 · Posted in PK Metals Blog

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This month is all about innovation here at Forbes. In order to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, it is crucial have organizations that bring together various members of the community to foster economic development.

To understand what it takes to run this type of organization, we reached out to Kevin Law, President of the Long Island Association. Mr. Law has headed the LIA for the past two years, and has brought in prominent speakers such as President Bush, Mayor Bloomberg, Tony Blair, and President Clinton to speak to our business community.

PK Metals is a commercial recycling company that has been based on Long Island since inception in 1979. We started with 5 employees, and have grown to over 80, and have added more than 20 jobs this past year.

We have witnessed how effective the LIA has been bringing together a diversified organization to encourage economic development, and believe Mr. Law’s insights can provide value to the Forbes readers.

The mission statement for the LIA is to lead and unify the region in order to strengthen Long Island as a place to live, work, and do business. How do you ensure that words are put into action?

The LIA is the leading business organization in the region. We support the viability of the business community and work collaboratively to create jobs and grow the Long Island economy. We connect with a vast network of Long Island’s small businesses and large companies and we advocate for their interests in Washington, Albany and locally to improve tax and regulatory policies in order to create economic opportunities and jobs.

You recently spoke about sharpening this mission to focus on jobs. How do you plan on doing that?

Before I became President & CEO, the LIA had become more of an umbrella group for organizations that tried to address a wide variety of issues. I have repurposed the LIA’s core mission to be pro-economic development, pro-growth, and pro-jobs. The LIA needs to be advocating for a better business climate on Long Island and in New York State. That is where we are focusing our attention.

The LIA is known for brining elected officials and business owners together to spur economic development. What are some new initiatives that you have planned for the second half of the year?

The LIA hosts Executive Breakfast Meetings and Luncheons featuring prominent speakers from the public and private sectors who address our members and answer their questions.  The LIA also hosts meetings of our members only strategic committees which allow our businesses to network and recommend policy positions.

Long Island is struggling to keep talented young professionals. What are you doing to address this issue, and ensure that young professionals have a seat at the table?

Long Island’s viability is threatened by a brain drain, however, there have been significant steps recently to counteract it. The LIA has been leading the charge to increase and diversify the housing stock suitable for younger workforce members and is a strong supporter of several transformative transit oriented development projects such as the Ronkonkoma Hub, Wyandanch Rising, Heartland Town Square, and the Thought Box in Hicksville that will create jobs, cool downtowns, and entertainment destinations.

Sustainability initiatives have proven to be very effective, and the past few years have seen strength in sectors such as commercial recycling and technology on Long Island. How will the LIA continue to encourage job creation in these areas?

The growth of the technology sector is critical to sustaining Long Island’s long-term economic growth. While the defense and aviation-related industries that characterized Long Island have declined, we have turned a corner in our efforts to create an innovation economy that relies on the highly-educated and highly-skilled workforce of our region and the world class research institutions that are giving birth to new technologies and businesses. This is where Accelerate Long Island will play a vital role.

The LIA has been known to attract prominent speakers such as President Bush and President Clinton. What is it about the LIA that draws such distinguished speakers?

In our 86th year now, the LIA is recognized as the preeminent business organization in the region and a must stop for anyone on the national circuit. When prominent speakers visit Long Island, it is the LIA where they want to go because we offer them a platform to address the business leaders of our community .

Can you elaborate on Accelerate Long Island?

Accelerate Long Island will unlock the economic potential of Long Island’s world-class research institutions by connecting their work product with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and inventors to commercialize technology, foster the growth of a high-tech innovative economy, and create new jobs and businesses on Long Island. By working with all relevant public and private sector stakeholders, it will create an entrepreneurial ecosystem where ideas are transformed into commercial success in industry clusters focusing on technology, clean energy and the life sciences.

The LIA is a founding member of Accelerate Long Island and is leading the effort. We have brought together the other founding members, which include Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Hofstra University, North Shore-LIJ, Stony Brook University, CA Technologies, and Canrock Ventures.

How did your time at the Long Island Public Authority prepare you for your role at the LIA?

LIPA helped me prepare for the LIA because I had run a high profile organization that generates a lot of media attention. My experience interacting with elected officials at all levels of government and dealing with numerous stakeholders and second guessers at both organizations have made the transition smooth.

If you could invite any four people to dinner, who would they be?

I think having Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Jerry Garcia, and Steve Jobs at the table would be fun.

What are some of your favorite restaurants on Long Island to conduct business?

Any diner on Long Island.

What four books have had the biggest influence on your life?

The Power Broker, Book of Proverbs, Goodnight Moon (because I have read it to my boys over 500 times) and anything by Walt Whitman.