No. 278: NASA in Melville, economic impact in Farmingdale, bottom-line battles and 25 years of ‘Groundhog Day’

Don't drive angry: It's Groundhog Day, again.

TGIF: Welcome, friends old and new, to the end of a cold and snowy workweek.

It’s Feb. 2, and it was 78 years ago today when a famous bandleader invited an unknown singer from Hoboken, NJ, to perform on stage at a bobbysoxer gig in Indianapolis. It would not be the last time Frank Sinatra would perform with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Déjà vu: It’s also Groundhog Day, again, and in case you were wondering, it’s almost the 25th anniversary of the classic Bill Murray comedy of the same name, which actually debuted on Feb. 12, 1993.

The annual event (celebrated in the United States and Canada) traces its origins to Germany, where hedgehogs were the magical weather-predicting rodents of choice; the famous Punxsutawney, PA, festival began in the 1800s, spun out of traditions brought to the New World by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

While many knock-offs, including Long Island’s own Holtsville Hal, have emerged, there’s only one Punxsutawney Phil – literally, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Groundhogs usually live only about eight years, but according to the club, Phil takes an annual drink of “magical punch” that promotes longevity, and is rapidly approaching 140 years of meteorological prognostication.

Also getting up there: Happy birthday Irish author James Joyce (1882-1942) and happy anniversary to Joyce’s modernist novel “Ulysses,” which had been previously serialized but was first published in its entirety on this date in 1922.

And happy birthday in advance to Mark Lesko, executive dean of Hofstra University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and a great friend of Innovate LI, who celebrates the anniversary of his debut on Sunday.

As in, Super Bowl Sunday: It’s the most celebrated of American non-holidays, and while the notion of a New England-Philadelphia championship tilt is as sour as it gets for New York football fans (they just need to work in the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to complete the humiliation), it’s pretty sweet for NBC, which is charging upwards of $5 million per 30-second commercial spot, a new record.

Budweiser Clydesdales, movie trailers, puppy-monkey-babies … what’s your all-time favorite Super Bowl commercial? Cast your vote at (and shoot us some story tips, too, and maybe your best guacamole recipe).

Good sports: We should make boneheaded editorial errors more often! Several eagle-eyed readers responded to Wednesday’s newsletter by noting Florham Park (not to be confused with Nassau’s Floral Park) is in New Jersey. Thank you.

Several others reached out to fill in the gaps of the Island’s professional sports history. In addition to the Islanders, Nets and, yes, Jets (who practiced for years at Hofstra University) – and a current crop including the Long Island Ducks (minor league baseball), the Long Island Rough Riders (United Soccer League) and the New York Lizards (Major League Lacrosse) – LI has also hosted two other professional lacrosse teams (the New York Titans and the Long Island Tomahawks, and thank you for noting that, Patrick Calabria).

Professional tennis, professional rodeo, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and professional wrestling (the judges will allow it) also graced the old Nassau Coliseum (thanks, Jim1776 and Martin L).



Houston, we have a solution: NASA landed at Canon USA’s Melville headquarters on Thursday, with representatives of the top 10 finalists in the NASA iTech challenge showcasing their innovative ideas.

NASA iTech is a collaborative effort to identify common Earth problems and foster innovative solutions – and bonus points if those solutions happen to advance the space administration’s strategic objectives.

New tech making the final round of this year’s NASA iTech challenge includes an augmented-reality advancement that “humanizes telehealth,” novel fuel-injector systems, ultraviolet-emitting robots that kill germs on commercial aircraft and a handheld laboratory-grade medical-diagnostics platform for “extreme environments,” among other breakthroughs.

Welcome to the fast lane: While Long Island and New York City users largely enjoy unfettered broadband Internet access, this hasn’t been the case across the rest of the state. The New NY Broadband Program aims to change that, and this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the program’s third and final funding round – roughly $209.7 million in awards that will help build more than 7,500 miles of broadband-access infrastructure, providing a high-speed onramp for some 122,000 mid-state and upstate homes and businesses.

Since the program’s launch in 2015, broadband Internet access has spread to approximately 2.42 million locations where it was previously unavailable, according to Cuomo, who called such access “critical.”


About our sponsor: SUNY Old Westbury is a selective public liberal arts college serving more than 4,300 students from Long Island, New York City and around the world. With graduate programs in business, education, mental health counseling and more, Old Westbury offers cutting-edge instruction and convenient scheduling, all at the affordable rate of SUNY tuition. Own your future.



School of business: With a $2 billion-plus “economic impact,” Farmingdale State College is this region’s little economic engine that could, according to the Long Island Association.

Relationship status: After batting eyelashes for a year, Melville digital marketer The EGC Group is getting serious with Port Washington cosmetics manufacturer KISS Products.

They earned it: Despite mixed performances, earnings are up at Carle Place’s 1-800-Flowers and Westbury’s New York Community Bancorp, according to quarterly financial reports released this week.



Hofstra is breaking new entrepreneurial ground, Start-Up NY is breaking in some Long Island biotechs and New York is looking to break the bank on wind power.



Step into the Ring: RingLead Inc., the latest endeavor of CA Technologies co-founder Russ Artzt, has quadrupled its staff and doubled its Melville footprint.

Spheres of influence: Inside Amazon’s Seattle-based geodesic biodomes, where endangered plant species (and imaginations) thrive.

Low-salt diet: Worried about the tons of sodium chloride washing into local water supplies, public works departments across the country are turning to beet juice, molasses and even beer to keep roadbeds ice-free.

No if, ands or bots: With the rise of the machines in full effect, the job skills robots can’t master – communication, empathy, problem-solving, collaboration – are more valued than ever.



+ Sylvia Diaz, executive director of the Suffolk County Community College Foundation, was appointed to the board of directors of John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

+ Shan Ahmed was named chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs for Mercy Medical Center. He was previously regional medical director/director of operations for Island Medical Management in Hauppauge.

+ Julie Allegretti was appointed co-president of the Social Media Association. She is a programs coordinator for the Stony Brook University Center for Biotechnology.

+ Peter Stein was also named co-president of the Social Media Association. He is a sales executive with Didit in Mineola.

+ Richard Satin was named vice chairman of Ronald McDonald House of Long Island in New Hyde Park. Satin is the New York office managing partner of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.

+ Matthew Campo has been elected president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Edgewood-based Long Island Chapter. Campo is president of Ronald McDonald House of Long Island.

+ The Long Island Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has also named several new Board of Director members: Sara Lipsky, executive director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Long Island Chapter; Anne Dalgish Koestner, director of development and alumni affairs at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell; Meredith McCaslin, director of development at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island; James Rennert, director of mission advancement at the Sisters of St. Joseph; and Stacy Parsell, vice president of development at Island Harvest Food Bank.



Sick of it: Why experts are calling this flu season the worst in decades.

The ‘early bird’ is cooked: How Baby Boomers and the ailing middle class are killing the value-meal mascot of South Florida retirement.

Affordable housing: An Italian city is putting abandoned mountainside homes on the market for 1 euro apiece. That’s about $1.20. For a house.

Gentle reminder: There’s no such thing as “free” news, so please support the great institutions that support Innovate LI – including the big thinkers at SUNY Old Westbury.