A cornerstone of Long Island journalism for the past two decades, Innovate Long Island founder and Publisher John Kominicki passed away early Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 62.
Kominicki, who spent 15 years as publisher of the regional business journal Long Island Business News, launched the Innovate LI website in 2015. Earlier this year, he was also named publisher and executive editor of the Long Island Press, where he helped revive the publication’s dormant print operations.
Known for his gifted pen, super-sized wit (particularly behind a microphone) and larger-than-life presence, Kominicki boasted a journalism career as varied as it was successful.
Born and raised in New Hampshire, the young reporter got his start as a Europe-based correspondent for European Stars & Stripes, and later completed assignments for The New York Times, USA Today, the Dallas Morning News and Newsweek, among other well-read publications.
In 1995, he joined the Minnesota-based Dolan Company as publisher of the Journal Record in Oklahoma. In 1998, he assumed the LIBN mantle.
During his 18-year run with The Dolan Company, Kominicki became the company’s go-to editorial troubleshooter, heading up the Dolan Editorial Board and traveling often to many of the chain’s 50-plus publications to coach writers and train editors.
He also proved himself a true innovator, creating LIBN’s first-ever “e-blast” news alerts and founding numerous pro-business-development awards programs – including LIBN’s “40 Under 40” and “Top Business Women” events, often serving as a crowd-pleasing master of ceremonies.
Helping Dolan grow from a regional chain to a national media company with dozens of significant publications was “the best part” of his long run, Kominicki said upon his 2013 retirement from LIBN – a business-development theme that would be repeated at Innovate LI, which the pioneering publisher designed to both chronicle and support Long Island’s regional innovation economy.
Mark Lesko, Hofstra University’s vice president of economic development and executive dean of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, dubbed Innovate LI “the leading voice in chronicling the development of Long Island’s innovation ecosystem,” and called his longtime friend “a throwback, a visionary, a business leader and a brilliant journalist.”
“Three years ago, the story of Long Island innovation wasn’t being told, and it needed to be told,” Lesko said Wednesday. “John applied his unique talents to let the world know what was happening here.
“That legacy will continue.”
Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, called Kominicki – who once served as an LIA board member – “a good friend and a great Long Islander.”
“He was smart and funny and I will miss him,” Law said.
Kominicki is survived by his wife, Marie, and his daughter, Anya, both of Stony Brook. Information on services and other arrangements is coming soon.
Editor’s note: I will sorely miss my friend.
– Gregory Zeller, Dec. 6, 2017