For years, we have spoken about a so-called “brain drain” on Long Island — the steady departure of young people in their 20s and 30s. They’re fed up with the Island’s high cost of housing, in particular the property taxes. They leave for parts down South and out West, and anywhere, really, where it’s cheaper to live.
Before they leave, though, they need to hear an alternative message: There is hope. Long Island is poised to become the next Silicon Valley. No, really, it is. And that will mean a steady supply of high-paying jobs for the well-educated and the industrious.
At the Long Island Association’s 2019 Executive Breakfast last January, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone were the keynote speakers, and they laid out a grand vision for a high-tech future for the Island, with the Nassau Hub serving as a center of medical treatment and research and extending 47 miles east to the world-renowned Brookhaven National Laboratory.
That vision is steadily making progress. At this year’s LIA Executive Breakfast last Friday, one of the featured speakers was Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven’s director, who sits on the LIA board. Gibbs spoke about the U.S. Department of Energy’s awarding of federal funding to Brookhaven for the construction of an electron-ion collider, at a cost of $1.6 billion to $2.6 billion. The project is expected to take a decade to complete.
That project will infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy through the creation of thousands of high-paying jobs. Add to that the tens of millions, even hundreds of millions, of dollars that are expected to pour in because of planned offshore wind projects, along with tens of millions more because of the coming medical research park at the Nassau Hub, and suddenly Long Island looks like the land of opportunity.
The electron-ion collider will allow scientists to smash atoms apart to peer into the inside of nuclei and examine quarks and gluons — the basis of all matter. The research will have applications in medical treatment, space travel and computation, Gibbs said.
“It’s a really exciting project, and it’s a big deal,” he told the 900 people assembled at the LIA meeting.
That, no doubt, is an understatement.
Besides BNL, the Island’s rapidly growing research institutions include the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Hofstra University, Northwell Health, LIU, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Stony Brook University.
The LIA has pushed for years to bring the concept of a Long Island “high-tech corridor” to fruition. “People are investing in our region,” LIA President and CEO Kevin Law told the Herald. “That’s a great sign, from a young person’s perspective. You want to move to a region that’s growing.”