A Conversation With: HVEDC President & CEO Laurence P. Gottlieb
John Jordan | April 2018
Real Estate In-Depth recently sat down with Laurence P. Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation based in Goshen, to discuss the key strengths of the Hudson Valley region in advance of the “Hudson Valley Visionaries: A Look into the Future of Commercial Real Estate” conference on April 12. The conference was sponsored by HVEDC and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
The HVEDC is a regional economic development organization whose market area includes: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan counties.
Gottlieb is a veteran economic development specialist. Before joining HVEDC in February 2013, Gottlieb had amassed 25 years of experience as a senior advisor to CEOs, government leaders and non-profit executives. In his last position as Director of Economic Development for Westchester County, Gottlieb was responsible for nearly $500 million in new business expansion and attraction projects, working with high-profile firms including: PepsiCo, IBM, Atlas Air, Dannon, Sabra Dipping, Acorda Therapeutics, OrthoNet, Regeneron and Lifetime Fitness.
Real Estate In-Depth: The conference HVEDC and HGAR are co-sponsoring is entitled “Hudson Valley Visionaries: A Look into the Future of Commercial Real Estate.” What are you hoping to accomplish at this conference?
Gottlieb: Most of the time when discussions are held about real estate it is usually on a local level, sometimes on a regional level, but the discussion tends to be more of a forecast of the current year versus where are all the trend lines moving toward. What do we think the future is going to look like? So, smart investors always look out 10 to 20 years and try to read the tea leaves to figure out where all these disconnected pieces are heading. So the purpose of this event is to try and read the tea leaves using a diverse group of experts that bring different insights to the table.
So, we have someone who deals a lot in digital infrastructure, which is never part of the discussion and something that I think should be. We have folks who have tremendous experience in real estate development. We have folks who are currently out in the marketplace and seeing a different generational view of what the needs are. We have somebody who has expertise in city planning, so we have kind of the urban perspective versus the suburban-office park perspective, as well as individuals who have experience mixing residential, commercial and retail. We are trying to take all these different pieces and bring them together to hopefully have a meaningful dialogue to give the attendees some insights into if you are going to be spending dollars; if you are going to be building out infrastructure from a government perspective; if you are looking for investment; here are some experts that are hopefully going to give us some form of cohesive vision of where we see the Hudson Valley commercial real estate market going in the next 10 to 20 years.
Real Estate In-Depth: What are some of the trends and issues that you believe will have the most impact on the Hudson Valley economy in the years to come?
Gottlieb: Well, clearly the economy is going through a very, very difficult transition as everything becomes digitized and the handling of information is at a premium. So the question becomes are we really moving away from manufacturing to a point where the vast majority of people in the Hudson Valley will be more readily engaged in services, health care and dealing with information, which is very different than what we had in New York State in the past, which was a very heavy industrial base? So, are we moving further and further away from that to the point where we have to take a hard look at the way our government is set up, the way our infrastructure is set up and the way our transportation is set up, so that is a piece of it. Automation, artificial intelligence and the use of autonomous vehicles I think are going to have potentially the biggest impact in terms of redefining when we build an office campus are we going to still need parking? Will anybody be actually parking vehicles or will it just be vehicles on demand?
Editor’s Note: Gottlieb also questioned how building owners will accommodate for the use of drones and will green technology, sustainability be larger issues that must be dealt with in terms of development? Another key factor for building owners to consider is the need for developers to build flexible space and just what will the offices of the future going to look like, he added.
Real Estate In-Depth: What does the Hudson Valley have to do to prepare for these technological, socioeconomic and demographic changes that are on the horizon?
Gottlieb: I always felt it is similar to a 12-step process. The first part of the classic 12-step process is admitting there is a problem and that there is a challenge. And so, part of the reason HVEDC does these kind of forums is to challenge held-beliefs by a fair number of government officials or business executives, or the media or academicians as to where the market is now and what their beliefs are concerning where we are headed because you can’t get real change and real investment until mindsets are changed.
So, the first step is not being shovel-ready, it is being business-ready. It is being attitude-ready. It is being change-ready so that you say transit-oriented design is really the way to go or are we really going to have to take a much harder look at our suburban campuses and say, “How do we make this piece of property as valuable as possible to the most number of people?
Editor’s Note: Gottlieb said government officials and building landlords must adapt to what was once a reliance on a major company that employed thousands to accommodate smaller companies and other uses. He also stressed the need for investment in digital infrastructure to also be at least part of the debate that now exists for the massive need for funding of conventional transportation and water infrastructure.
Gottlieb quipped “In fact we have a lot of potholes in our digital infrastructure and yet we don’t talk about the replacement of that and the upgrading of digital as much as we do the need for traditional infrastructure.”