Page 14 - grow

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dentifying key industries and
fostering the development of regional
cluster organizations to spur business
growth in Westchester County are
two tasks being tackled by the Office of
Economic Development.
“As we emerge from the Great
Recession, many business owners realize
their continuing survival is dependent,
in part, on forming regional partnerships
that strengthen the overall economic
atmosphere within which they operate,”
says Laurence P. Gottlieb, the county’s
Economic Development Director. “When
many previously disconnected companies
come together and speak with one voice,
one purpose, the likelihood of success for the
group is far greater.”
Westchester County is already seeing
business growth emerge from two clusters:
the NY BioHud Valley and the Hudson
Valley Food and Beverage Alliance.
Acorda Therapeutics is a Hawthorne-
based biopharmaceutical company that
develops prescription medications. Jeff
Macdonald, Senior Director of Corporate
lenty of twenty-somethings dream of moving to New
York City and living in a trendy apartment. Westchester’s
business leaders want to make sure that young professionals
also think of moving to – or staying in – the county,
since tomorrow’s economic success stories are dependent upon the
development and influx of young talent today.
Tim Jones, Managing Member of Robert Martin Co., is Chairman
of the Westchester Coalition for Business Development, a task force of
The Business Council of Westchester established to develop strategies
to attract and retain business. Jones points to the Council’s Rising
Stars program as evidence that young business professionals flourish in
Westchester. Modeled after the national “Forty Under Forty” business
recognition program, 40 Rising Stars under the age of 40 are honored
each year for making a mark in their profession and in their community.
“We have a great number of opportunities here, particularly in
biotech and healthcare,” Jones says, adding that it’s important to
understand what matters to younger workers. “They have different
values; some things are a higher priority to them, and we need to
understand and accept that. We’ve been hearing that open space is
Communications, says biopharmaceutical
companies need to be in an area “with a
critical mass of people with the right skills.
We need access to the right scientific minds
and academic collaborators.”
Describing the benefit of clusters, Peter
Herrero Jr., Founder and President of New
York Hospitality Group and Caperberry
Events in White Plains, uses an old restaurant
analogy: “You want to be the only one in
the game, or you want to be on restaurant
row.” Taking the “restaurant row” approach
improves business opportunities for all.
Gottlieb agrees: “By working together in
such tough economic times rather than going
it alone, business owners draw strength from
each other, and their combined resiliency
ensures greater success for all. Equally,
government entities are always looking to
bolster regional economic efforts rather than
investing limited resources in one company
at a time; therefore, clusters tend to attract
more resources, which are then spread out
among the individual firms.”
Dr. Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of
The Business Council of Westchester, adds,
“Clustering provides an opportunity for
businesses to cross-fertilize in terms of ideas,
innovation and cutting-edge technology.
You develop a location where people with
education and skills want to locate because
the resources are there. It encourages
entrepreneurs in an area that is ripe for
growth and has all the ingredients necessary:
business resources and people, intellectual
capital, quality of life, business-friendly
policies and an educated workforce.”
The clusters lead to job growth not only
within their industry, but in others as well.
“A big part of our business has become
the biotech industry,” says Renee Brown,
President and CEO of C.W. Brown Inc.,
a general contracting and construction
management company in Armonk. “We’ve
built labs and biotech space and we’ve noticed
there’s a growing number of companies
coming to Westchester. We’ve been able to
target that market, and it helps everybody.”
She praises County Executive Astorino
for using clusters to support and grow
businesses. “It’s a brilliant move on the part
of the county,” she says. “They didn’t just
stop with the biotech cluster – now we’ve got
the food and beverage cluster. We work for
them, too. We just finished a job with Pepsi.
Each of these clusters benefits those particular
sectors, but they benefit all of us – they
benefit the entire economy of Westchester.”
important and economic and ethnic diversity is important to this
generation, and those are things we offer.”
Brendan Meyer, Chairman, Westchester County Association’s
Young Professional Group, notes, “As a young business owner, having
access to successful companies and people is key. Westchester County’s
vibrant economy has all that and more.”
Timothy Donohue, a 32-year-old White Plains native and Chair of
the Rising Stars “Forty Under Forty,” returned to Westchester after
he graduated from Villanova University. He’s now a senior associate at
CBRE, a commercial real estate firm. “Westchester is so wonderfully
positioned,” he says. “You can live in White Plains and head an hour
south to walk in any New York City borough or neighborhood, and
an hour north offers pretty much every type of outdoor recreation you
could hope for – rock climbing, skiing, hiking, horseback riding –
you name it.”
Donohue notes that the relationship between the county and New
York City is synergistic. “We’re not going to compete with the size and
scope of New York City, but we offer a different lifestyle.” He adds that
policies and environments must continue to be created that enhance
young workers’ lives, focusing on issues as varied as social opportunities,
commutability, affordable housing, recreation and taxation.
“Given all the amenities in the region,” Donohue explains, “the
county is keenly positioned to attract the kind of young talent that
will build an even stronger economic future for Westchester.”