By GREGORY ZELLER //
A “council of elders” works great in the movies, but for 21st century business development, only fresh thinking will do.
This is Edward Mirabella’s mindset, at least, as he trumpets “young, new blood” and steps down as co-chairman of the Long Island Business Development Council Executive Board, effective Oct. 31.
Mirabella, a 43-year commercial banking veteran who launched Wantagh-based corporate consultancy Mirabella Associates in 2006, will continue as treasurer of the 50-year-old networking group, which launched in 1969 as a business-development spinoff of the Long Island Association.
The outgoing co-chairman will also retain emeritus status as an Executive Board member – but his days of running the show alongside co-Chairman Theodore Sasso are over, succeeded by a youth movement that “has to be,” according to Mirabella.
“There are different ways of thinking, new ideas,” he told Innovate LI. “Two or three years ago, we realized we had to rebuild all this again, with young, new blood and more diversity – people who could get the job done for the next 20 years.
“And we’ve been able to do that,” he added.
While modernizing (and perhaps slightly de-aging) the LIBDC leadership has been a priority, Mirabella’s successor is no spring chicken, and is certainly a well-respected veteran of regional economic development: Mitchell Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, will step up Nov. 1.
Pally has served nine years as LIBI’s chief executive, topping off a long résumé packed with public- and private-sector economic-development experience. He’s “been around forever,” Mirabella admitted, but Pally is “very well-regarded, and he’ll bring a real energy to being chairman.”
“He’ll bring host of new ideas and new people to the group, too,” his predecessor added. “He’s levelheaded and does not get rattled easily.
“And I also have tremendous respect for the fact that if he doesn’t agree with you, Mitch will tell you – honestly and directly.”
Mirabella, who’s served as an LIBDC Executive Board member for decades, first joined the group in 1978 as a rookie loan officer for Long Island National Bank in Hicksville. He succeeded former Long Island Business News Publisher and Innovate Long Island founder John Kominicki as co-chairman following Kominicki’s passing in 2017.
While Mirabella will still be fulfilling his treasurer duties, mentoring new LIBDC members and contributing to the organization’s overall success, he said he’s ready to pass the leadership baton – just as he was ready to take it from former Town of Hempstead economic-development chief Roy Cacciatore.
“I think I’m probably most proud of having the ability to step in when Roy passed away and being able to work with the likes of Ted and (Town of Islip Economic Development Director) Bill Mannix and a few others to grow the group,” Mirabella said. “I’m proud that I was not only able to survive in that group, but thrive.”
Among the secrets of the LIBDC’s success during his run, according to Mirabella, has been the group’s ability to leave politics at the door. The all-business mien “opens the organization to people of all persuasions,” the co-chairman noted, “and doesn’t scare anyone way.”
“I’m about as conservative as you can get, and I have come to have tremendous respect for (Democratic Nassau County Executive) Laura Curran,” Mirabella added. “Growing the economy of Long Island is difficult enough without complicating it with political issues, which will only end up dividing the group.”
As he (partially) rides into the sunset, the retiring co-chair said he believes the LIBDC is in good hands, thanks to the other primary focus of his tenure: a diversity-minded recasting of the Executive Board, which now features Mannix, New York Business Development Corp. Senior Vice President Richard Amsterdam, Advantage Title Vice President Denise Angiulo, Cook Maran Commercial Insurance Client Advisor Nancy Bloom, JRS Architect Vice President of Business Development Kathy Pasquale, Islandia-based attorney Andrew Presberg and Innovate Long Island President Marlene McDonnell.
It’s a progressive bunch, carefully cultivated to combine specific areas of knowledge and experience – and very much what LIBDC founders Ford Bartlett and Fred Merill of the LIA, Long Island Business News Publisher Paul Townsend and Gurney’s Inn owner Nick Montemarano had in mind a half-century ago, according to Mirabella.
“[Amsterdam] is probably one of my proudest accomplishments, bringing him along,” Mirabella said. “Somebody always has to reach out and grab the sword and take it to the next level.
“I’ve seen everything happen at least once,” he added. “It’s time for the next generation.”