REDC Honors Dr. Cliff Wood of RCC, Three Businesses At 2016 Economic Development Awards Luncheon

John Jordan | December 16, 2016

From left, Steven Coyle, chair of REDC's Board; Dr. Mary Jean Marsico, Supt. of Rockland BOCES; Rockland Community College President Dr. Cliff Wood, the 2016 “Special REDC Board Recognition” honoree and Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

SUFFERN—The Rockland Economic Development Corp. honored one of the county’s top civic and business leaders as well as three businesses and a critical service provider at its 22nd Annual Economic Development Awards Luncheon on Nov. 18.

The event held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Suffern was attended by nearly 300 people and featured presentations by Rockland County Executive Ed Day and other dignitaries as well as an informative look ahead to some of the key economic issues facing Rockland and the nation by keynote speaker Dean Whittaker, founder and president of Whittaker Associates, Inc., a data analytics and market research company. The 22nd Annual Economic Development Awards Luncheon was sponsored by TD Bank.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day at the 22nd Annual REDC Annual Luncheon.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day at the 22nd Annual REDC Annual Luncheon.

County Executive Ed Day congratulated the award winners and also recognized outgoing REDC President Richard Struck and welcomed newly appointed REDC President Jeremy Schulman. He briefed the gathering on the recent change that now has the REDC operating as a contract agency to the county’s Office of Economic Growth and Tourism. This modification will provide REDC funding certainty and will also foster a greater partnership between county government and the REDC, he noted.

He concluded his remarks by saying “The equation is simple—lower taxes, accessible transportation, safe communities and a government that welcomes responsible growth. These are the keys to economic development and that is the path we are on and the REDC has been a partner in that journey. I look forward to continuing that together with all of you. That is a legacy we will keep and you can count on that.”

The major award winners for 2016 included Rockland BOCES as Service Provider of the Year; Safer World Group as Manufacturer of the Year; Debra E. Boening of Oak Beverages, Inc. as Entrepreneur of the Year, W.H. Kassner, Inc. as PTAC Achievement Award winner; and Rockland Community College President Dr. Cliff Wood as Special REDC Board Recognition honoree.

Dr. Wood has been a civic and business leader in Rockland County ever since he took over as RCC President in 2004. In the 12 years as head of RCC he has overseen major growth in the college’s physical plant, enrollment, community involvement and workforce development. Widely known in business, political and civic circles as a man of integrity and a visionary leader, he served as president of the New York Community Colleges Association from 2009 to 2013 and led the association in a host of statewide advocacy efforts and remains active in the organization. RCC’s excellence under Dr. Wood’s leadership was recognized earlier this year by the Aspen Institute, which named RCC as one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States.

He is also a key member of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and played an important role in engaging RCC in the state’s START-UP New York program focused on public-private partnerships based on SUNY campuses. The college currently hosts two START-UP New York locations—York Analytical Laboratories in Nyack and the recently opened RCC Innovation Center at the IRG campus in Pearl River. RCC currently has an additional 168,000 square feet of space available for START-UP New York eligible companies.

In another initiative geared at helping the Rockland County economy and workforce, RCC is meeting the employment needs of both job seekers and employers through its oversight of the Rockland County Career Center on campus. The Small Business Development Center also operates both on RCC’s main campus and in Haverstraw.

Dr. Wood has been honored by a number of organizations for his fine work, including the REDC, the Rockland County Police Hispanic Society, the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance & Education, Texas A&M University Commerce, JCC Rockland and the Child Care Resources of Rockland. In addition, Dr. Wood and his wife Wylene Branton Wood were honored for their community service work by VCS Inc.

REDCC’s 2016 Manufacturer of the Year Award went to Safer World Group of Airmont. For more than 30 years, Safer World Group and its member companies have been supporting domestic and international entities with their defense, aerospace, security and energy initiatives. The company combines its international presence with its technical and management expertise to address a wide range of challenges related to the protection and security of countries, people and infrastructure.

The company currently has key manufacturing facilities in New York, New Jersey and France and sales offices throughout the U.S South America, Europe and the Middle East. Safer World Group’s flagship manufacturing location in Tallman was acquired in 2005 through the direct assistance of the REDC and the local banking community. The plant employs a diverse workforce that includes engineers, product and system integrators, quality control personnel, chemists, program managers and sales staff. The facility provides critical support to key U.S. and Allied nations defense agencies for a wide range of applications, including submarine electronic systems, jet encryption systems, ship propulsion systems, radar systems and satellite communication systems.

W.H. Kassner Inc. of Tomkins Cove, the 2016 PTAC Achievement Award winner, is now in its third generation as a family business that has called Rockland County its home for more than 50 years. The REDC reports that in the past five years under sibling owners Ellie Kassner (president) and Dirk Kassner (vice president) the ornamental and architectural metals firm has carved a new path. The firm custom fabricates stairs, railings, platforms and other commercial projects for public and private clients.

Under its new leadership, WHK is now a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by New York State, New Jersey and New York City and is also a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Recently, the firm has performed work on a host of major public works projects for the Rockland Sewer District No. 1 in Orangeburg, the Bayonne Regional Sewereage Authority in New Jersey and is currently performing work on the Tappan Zee Bridge Permanent Maintenance Facility Project.

The 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year went to Debra E. Boening of Oak Beverages Inc. of Blauvelt.  Oak Beverages, under the leadership of CEO and President Debra Boening since 2000, services the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster counties. The company employs 220 people, operates three warehouses and a fleet of 42 beverage trucks. Oak has recently added wines and liquors to its portfolio of available beverages.

Not a stranger to major awards, in 2009 Oak Beverages was awarded the Rockland Business Association Pinnacle Award in the “Women’s Forum for Outstanding Achievements by a Woman-Owned Business” category. The award recognized a woman-owned business that has “exhibited a track record of superlative business performance and growth.” Boening serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association.

The REDC Service Provider of the Year was presented to Rockland BOCES of West Nyack. For more than 56 years, Rockland BOCES has delivered educational programs for students with special needs, teens interested in career and technical training, adult learners preparing for new job opportunities and educators seeking to upgrade their professional skills. Its mission is to provide high-quality shared educational, administrative and technical services that enable component school districts to achieve higher standards of performance.

Rockland BOCES is one of 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) throughout New York State that cover a combined total of 721 public school districts, Rockland BOCES serves eight component school districts with a county-wide student population of approximately 41,000.

On Dec. 1, Rockland BOCES announced that after following a rigorous, year-long assessment process, it had received formal accreditation by the CABAS® Professional Advisory Board for seven district-based elementary CABAS® classrooms in the Nanuet, South Orangetown and Clarkstown school districts.

Originally developed by educational experts at Teachers College, Columbia University, the CABAS® (Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling) program is based on the principles and behavior change tactics of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). By partnering with Columbia University, Rockland BOCES offers a student centered, data driven and research-based program specific to the needs of each individual learner. The goal is to foster each student’s development across all areas of academic, behavioral, physical and social domains.

“This is a very proud moment for Rockland BOCES,” said Rockland BOCES COO Mary Jean Marsico, Ed.D. “We work extremely hard to ensure our children and adolescents with disabilities receive measurement-based, individualized education. The CABAS® accreditation allows for superior learning based exclusively on scientific procedures. This incredible accomplishment is a milestone—not the finish line—reflecting the commitment and dedication of our Rockland BOCES special education team.”


John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth