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Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce

Assemblyman Steve Stern and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone outside Bon Bons Chocolatier in downtown Huntington Nov. 25.

On Nov. 25 New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) unveiled a series of state legislative proposals intended to help small businesses on Long Island.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy,” Stern said. “They employ half of New York’s private sector workforce and generate nearly $190 billion in payroll receipts, according to the Small Business Administration. Given these statistics, it is imperative that New York State move forward with a business-friendly agenda that supports local economies and fosters our suburban neighborhood quality of life.”

The announcement was held at Bon Bons Chocolatier, a local family-owned business located in the heart of downtown Huntington for 40 years. The announcement came just prior to Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, which encourages consumers to shop locally at the start of the holiday shopping season.

In addition to the owners of Bon Bons, the officials were joined by a host of local chambers of commerce and business advocacy organizations including representatives from the Long Island Association, Long Island Business Council, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers of Commerce, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Melville Chamber of Commerce. They all applauded the initiatives and welcomed the extra exposure and promotion for small local businesses as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

“Small businesses are vital to our downtown communities. Not only are they the backbone of our local economy, they are what makes Long Island such a vibrant place to live, work and raise a family,” said Bellone.

“Small businesses are vital to our downtown communities. Not only are they the backbone of our local economy, they are what makes Long Island such a vibrant place to live, work and raise a family.”

-Steve Bellone

“The new measures Assemblyman Stern has laid out will help strengthen our brick and mortar shops and ensure they have the tools and resources they need to thrive.”

The business-friendly agenda, which will be up for consideration when the New York State Legislature re-convenes in January, includes the following innovative legislative proposals:

• SMALL BUSINESS INCOME TAX EXEMPTION EXPANSION: increases the corporate tax threshold by $100,000 for businesses and farms that employ at least one person and lowers the rate from 6.5 to 4 percent. Coupled with other incentives, these changes are estimated to save small businesses $300,000,000 statewide (A.6309).

• NEW YORK STATE INNOVATION VOUCHER PROGRAM: provides direct funding to eligible small businesses with dollar-for-dollar matching funds to acquire expertise from our outstanding local colleges and universities, government laboratories and public research institutes and facilitate innovation and job creation in New York State (A.45).

• REDUCING COMMUTING COSTS AND BUSINESS EXPENSES THROUGH TAX INCENTIVES: designed to enable workers to offset commuting costs (by as much as $265 per month) and save employers through reduction of payroll tax liability; this plan may also reduce traffic congestion and pollution with mass transit incentives. (A.7264).

• SMALL BUSINESS TAX-DEFERRED SAVINGS ACCOUNT PROGRAM: allows small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to deposit profits into a tax-deferred savings account as an incentive for both job creation and economic development in New York State (A.7693).

• FUTURE OF WORK COMMISSION: to study and research the impact of technology on workers, employers and the economy of the state of New York and develop a plan to keep the state’s economy competitive, durable, equitable and sustainable while protecting and strengthening middle-class jobs for a new generation of New Yorkers (A.8446).

The proposals, officials said, all represent “outside the box” approaches to help retain our existing businesses and attract new ones through a combination of tax incentives, collaborations with colleges, universities and research institutions and proactive anticipation of new technological advancements.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Long Island’s economy and thus I commend Assemblyman Stern’s plan to lower taxes and reduce costs that would help these companies grow and succeed,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.

The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers of Commerce stated that brick and mortar businesses, offices, manufacturing and service contractors are at a disadvantage when the economy turns. The proposed legislation, they said, allows small businesses the opportunity to save “tax free” in good times and establish that rainy day account.

“As policy makers, we have an obligation to listen to the concerns of our local business community and work together to create a business-friendly environment to keep our homegrown workforce on Long Island both now and for generations to come,” Stern said. “I am proud to support these innovative measures, which are key to sustaining and growing our local economy, and I urge my colleagues in the State Legislature to do the same.”

Bob Bontempi, of Huntington, recognized as one of TBR News Media's 2017 People of Year

Huntington resident Bob Bontempi, center, at an event hosted by Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

By Kyle Barr

There are qualities that allow a person to excel no matter what they are doing or put their mind to. Huntington residents who know Bob Bontempi say it’s his simple ability to listen that makes him so capable.

“He has a way of making you comfortable and feel more important than anyone else in the room,” said Jim Powers, president of The Townwide Fund of Huntington. “He’s very easy to get to know, and he’s giving you compliments half the time even when he’s doing something right — not you.”

A longtime Huntington resident, Bontempi has bridged the gap between business professionals, charities and government in the Town of Huntington.

“Bontempi in Italian means ‘good times’, and we like to call him, ‘Bobby good times,’” said Brian Yudewitz, chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “If a colleague or a friend needs guidance with a problem they’re having or an opportunity they have with work, he’s the guy to talk to. He’s so good at identifying issues and working toward solutions in that area, as well as the local political area as well.”

Bob Bontempi, former chairman of the Huntington Tonwship Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Long Island Fall Festival. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

Bontempi served as chairman of the Huntington  Township Chamber of Commerce from 2009 to 2013. He remains the driving force behind the annual Long Island Fall  Festival, an event that he said showcases
everything that Huntington has to offer — and is proud of.

“The chamber of commerce is a great example of Bontempi’s work. You don’t get paid to be the chairman and the amount of work that you have to do to give back is huge,” state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) said. “So that just typifies what kind of person he is that he’s willing to go that extra mile to make sure things go well. He has a heart of gold and he’s willing to share that heart with everybody.”

Bontempi is also a founding board member of the Long Island Business Council. This year, he started the Huntington Township Business Council Political Action Committee to raise funds and give campaign contributions to political candidates who members felt would benefit downtown businesses.

“He’s not afraid to get involved in any social issue or political issue,” said Robert Scheiner, vice chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “He is very, very up front with his opinion.”

But Bontempi is more than a businessman. As the Northeast regional business director at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, he is also involved in numerous local charities. He previously served on the board of Pederson-Krag Center, a nonprofit mental health care provider, and served on the advisory board for Splashes of Hope, a charity that uses paintings to improve hospital aesthetics. Bontempi is a supporter of Moonjumpers, a Huntington-based charitable foundation that provides financial assistance for needy families, children, veterans and other charitable organizations.

“He’s a guy who is very committed to the town and to the betterment of the people,” Scheiner said. “Bob is the kind of guy you go to for anything, and there’s very few people that you can count on like that, only the number of fingers on your hands.”

Friends and colleagues alike marvel at how many organizations Bontempi has been involved in. They laud his compassion and attention to anything involving the Town of Huntington.

“I think [Bontempi is] a very dedicated civic-minded individual that really tries to help people and just make Huntington and our community a better place,” said Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R). “He has a ton of energy and it doesn’t matter if he’s traveling for business or if he’s right here in Huntington, he’s always very
accessible, he’s always willing to help out the community.

Huntington Town celebrated fall this weekend at the annual Long Island Fall Festival. The event, free to the public, is organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and spans Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. Festivities include a carnival, food courts, entertainment, vendors, animals and more.

Petrone: RFP for parking garage coming soon

The Huntington Town Board authorized a $1.6 million purchase of property to create 66 additional parking spaces in Huntington village. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington village’s parking pickle may soon become a little less of one.

On Tuesday, the town board green-lighted a $1.6 million purchase of property on West Carver Street to create about 66 new parking spaces in the village.

The board unanimously authorized Supervisor Frank Petrone or his representative to execute a contract to purchase a portion of the property at 24 West Carver St. from owner Anna Louise Realty II, LLC— right across the road from the New Street municipal parking lot. The money will be bonded for over a 10-year period, Petrone told reporters after the meeting.

It won’t be the only parking update in Huntington village this season. Petrone said the town is working with the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Station Business Improvement District to draft a request for proposals to build a parking garage in town — an idea town officials and residents have mulled for years.

“It’s a beginning,” Petrone said. “We made a commitment that parking is a continuum. We changed the meters. We have a different approach. We restriped, we added more spots, we redid lots. And now this is adding like 66 more additional spots, which is pretty substantial given the fact of the needs in the town.”

Town officials are hoping to get the RFP out by the end of summer, Petrone said. Asked where the structure would be sited, the supervisor said there have been discussions about locating it at the New Street lot, right across from the 66 additional spaces.

If a parking structure is to be built, it is likely current spots would be closed down in the construction process. Part of the idea of purchasing the 66 spaces would be to help mitigate parking during the building of a structure, he said.

Town officials had explored creating a parking facility on Elm Street for years. Those ideas aren’t dead, Petrone said, but the feeling is the town might be able to get more spots out of the New Street location. “We begin with New Street,” he said. “I’m not saying Elm will not be looked at.”

Petrone said the town’s been thinking up creative ways to finance a parking structure. Asked how the town would pay for such a facility, Petrone said it could be a private project, with the town providing the developer with a lease to the land, or it could be a public-private partnership. If a private entity were to come in, it would have to be worthwhile to them financially. To that end, he said “we’ve heard all sorts of ideas,” like building apartments or shops into the structure — properties that could be rented out. He said officials have also explored whether the cost of parking in the structure would suffice in terms of paying the debt service on the bond off.

The supervisor said he’s also weighed creating a parking district for the whole village area, with businesses paying into it, “because it’s the cost of doing business, it basically will provide better parking in the village.”

The chamber of commerce has “played an integral part in the push for increased parking options” in the town over the last three years, according to David Walsdorf, a chamber board member and member of the Huntington Village Parking Consortium.

“We view the parking challenge as a positive reflection of the growth and vitality of our flourishing businesses and we continue to support further improvement in our infrastructure to meet the needs and sustainability of our community,” he said in a statement.

Chamber chairman Bob Scheiner praised the news.

“The Huntington Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a part of this parking consortium and we fully support the supervisor and town board in this acquisition, which will go a long way to help the parking situation in downtown,” he said in a statement “The chamber looks forward to the release of the RFP and thanks the board for their efforts.”