Bellone kicks off economic development conference

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said local officials must think and act regionally.

Suffolk County doesn’t lack the transformative ideas that could position it for an innovation economy, but it has so far lacked the regional coordination that has been the hallmark of successful new economies elsewhere, County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday.

Bellone, kicking off an economic development conference at Stony Brook University, challenged Long Island leaders at all levels of government to work together to keep young Long Islanders here and attract their counterparts from other parts of the country.

“If you are not delivering the quality of life to attract the young people needed for a 21st Century workforce, you are losing,” Bellone told the crowd of government officials and developers. “We must all recognize that we have regional responsibilities, that there are things we can only accomplish on a regional basis.”

And the road is long and hard, he added, noting that Long Island planners have too often taken the “Ralph Kramden approach” to economic development, seeking get rich quick-styled solutions to problems that require long and concerted solutions.

Nonetheless, Bellone said he has “great hope and optimism for our future, for the incredible assets we have and our ability to pull them together and leverage them.”

The conference was organized by former Suffolk IDA chief Anthony Manetta and David Calone, who heads the county’s planning commission. Other speakers included SBU President Sam Stanley and Deputy County Exec Joanne Minieri, as well as town supervisors Frank Petrone of Huntington, Ed Romaine from Brookhaven and Riverhead’s Sean Walter.

On the technology front, the summit included presentations by Stony Brook University economic development chief Yacov Shamash, LISTnet President Peter Goldsmith and Accelerate Long Island’s Mark Lesko. A lunchtime panel discussion focused on commercialization efforts by Stony Brook, Cold Spring Harbor and Brookhaven National Lab.