A Conversation with Laurence P. Gottlieb HVEDC President and CEO: Developing Strategies to Grow the Hudson Valley Region
John Jordan | August 22, 2016
NEW WINDSOR—Real Estate In-Depth recently sat down with Laurence P. Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation based in New Windsor on the grounds of Stewart International Airport to discuss the key strengths of the Hudson Valley region and how HVEDC is looking to grow the regional economy.
The HVEDC is a regional economic development organization whose market area includes: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan counties.
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 firms including: PepsiCo, IBM, Atlas Air, Dannon, Sabra Dipping, Acorda Therapeutics, OrthoNet, Regeneron and Lifetime Fitness.
It was in his post as head of economic development in Westchester County where he rebranded the county as “New York’s Intellectual Capital” and worked with then HVEDC President Mike Oates to form HVEDC’s first industry cluster: NY BioHud Valley to market the region as a mecca for biotechnology and biopharmaceutical firms. Since then, HVEDC has formed a number of other industry clusters: 3-D Printing, the Food & Beverage Alliance, EDs & MEDs (health care and higher education), Hudson Valley Play (amusement, gaming and recreational industries) and Hudson Valley Economic Development Network (a cluster geared to encourage continued business education and training to enhance economic development throughout the region.)
Q: Regionalism has always been a lofty goal for economic development professionals, but for years fell victim to partisan realities. Do you believe that has changed and did regionalism get a major boost with the launch of Gov. Cuomo’s Regional Councils?
Gottlieb: We take a lot of pride in the fact that as a regional organization a number of years ago we decided to go in the direction of these (industry) cluster development initiatives because we wanted to take the lead in moving from economic development being specific to a building, a geography, a street corner and elevating it to here is the direction that we believe the economy is going in the Hudson Valley and here are areas where there can be tremendous growth. If you look at the governor’s regional council system and you look at the regional strategies that were developed, those strategies ultimately mirror and match what HVEDC set before those Regional Councils were formed (in 2011). So we take great pride in having in a way set the regional council up, at least in our region (the Mid-Hudson) for success because out of the gate the first few years the number one priority projects were the priorities of our organization. If you look at year one it was the bioincubator space at New York Medical College and year three it was the 3-D Printing Center (at SUNY New Paltz). So you look at those key priority projects they are projects, concepts and are partnerships that we formed ahead of the that strategy being put together by the Regional Council. We don’t want to solely take credit for everything positive that happened in the Hudson Valley, but we certainly take great pride in knowing that we set very important ideas forward that other people also picked up on and moved that ball forward.
Q: One of the first growth sectors identified by HVEDC was biotechnology. How important is this sector to the region and are you expecting further growth in the years to come from biotech-related firms?
Gottlieb: Biotechnology is a fantastic economic development tool because for every scientist job, you get five other jobs, you get three professional and two non-professional positions. For example, law firms that are adding IP attorneys have grown significantly. Biotech growth has affected businesses up and down the line—catering firms, hotels are now filling rooms with business trips from folks that are visiting Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Acorda Therapeutics, Pfizer and other life science companies in Rockland County. You have biotech firms peppered throughout the Hudson Valley. So, the more science jobs you bring in, you are going to get those other jobs in support of those science jobs. Just take Regeneron for example; the company has built a million square feet of space (in Westchester County) over the past few years. Think of all the construction jobs that went into building those properties. Think of all the support services jobs that have been added to that…
Conceptually the idea of NY BioHud Valley was to bring together previously disconnected resources. Each county said I have a firm here, I have a school here, I have some resources here, but when you look at it at a 60,000-foot level as a region that is an attraction tool because people say I want to be co-mingled with these other companies.
Editor’s Note: Gottlieb noted that the Hudson Valley has more than 80 biotech companies doing business in the region and has some of the largest biotech firms in the country. He said a major potential for growth of biotechnology in the Hudson Valley is not just the addition of new biotech firms, but also spinoffs of existing companies. Gottlieb added, “I don’t think people truly and deeply understand the potential that is still unlocked within these companies.”
Q: Another key sector HVEDC has championed is 3-D Printing. Why is this an important market and where do you see it heading in the near term?
Gottlieb: 3-D Printing’s importance to the region is really two-fold. One, we are generating tomorrow’s workforce and when you do that it attracts companies that need that particular skill set that cannot be easily replicated by a robot or automation and so the skill set in digital design and fabrication, as we have learned, is so critical for so many companies that design products (automobiles, airplanes, clothes, sneakers, and delivery methodologies for pharmaceuticals). But, what they need is a level of engineering and a level of artistry, which is really what 3-D Printing is. It is the fusion of those two skill sets… By creating this center at SUNY New Paltz, we are creating a center for learning for the United States. It is much bigger than the region, it is much bigger than New York State. It is a national model. Schools are coming from across the country and from around the world to learn how to replicate what we have already created at SUNY New Paltz. So from that perspective it has been a huge win for the region.
In addition, SUNY New Paltz and 3-D Printing act as a magnet that draws out entrepreneurs, inventors, consultants and contractors that were hidden from your typical Chamber (of Commerce) or economic development office. Editor’s Note: Gottlieb noted that these firms are now tapping into the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center and its 3-D Printing center to eliminate thousands of hours that were formerly required to develop a product prototype and bring a new product to market.
Q: HVEDC has also identified food & beverage, health care, education and gaming as growth sectors? Do you expect these industries to continue to grow in the years to come?
Gottlieb: Yes I do. We launched a cluster ‘Hudson Valley Eds and Meds’ to focus in on the importance of higher education and health care to the continued growth of the Hudson Valley. You cannot turn a corner without finding space being repurposed by a health care organization, company, hospital or private medical group that is expanding. If it has health care in its name it is expanding.
To continue that growth, what is the workforce development engine and what part does higher education play and what is the interplay between the two? In the depths of the recession, the two areas that were growing were health care and higher education. Just look at West Point, which is investing $500 million in a new science building and they are also re-doing their barracks. West Point is a huge part of the regional economy—that is higher education. At some point health care becomes a much bigger issue—the delivery of health care to members of the military. So if West Point is making that investment, as they become bigger, you have a top-rated medical college here. You also have other colleges here, such as Marist, which now has a Physician’s Assistant program, that are generating a lot of talent. The question is are we also generating at the same time the areas of opportunity for that talent? We are very good in the Hudson Valley in turning out talent; the question is can we be equally as good in retaining that talent? That is the importance of EDS & MEDs. It is retaining talent here in the Hudson Valley by helping those institutions to grow (smart growth) within the region and educating folks as to the importance of the industry.
Photo Caption: Laurence P. Gottlieb, President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation.