What’s Happening: 2nd Quarter 2022

Newsletter sponsored by: TD Bank
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Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

Economic Development Government Affairs (EDGA)

Green Council

Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

HR Connexions

Professional Marketing Council

Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals (REBOP)

Technology Initiative

Women’s Leadership Council

 

 


 

Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

In April the CRED council had guest speaker Steve Porath, Rockland IDA’s Executive Director.  Steve updated us on the many projects that are currently underway in Rockland.  This year the IDA has seen an unprecedented number of new business projects.May’s meeting was a Round Table discussion where members were able to update the group on their company’s projects and anything else that would be of interest to the group.In June, CRED hosted a very informative session with Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann and Steve Yassky, Rockland Reality Commercial Real Estate Services. Steve discussed projects that he has in the town and the positive process he’s experienced with different municipal departments.  The Supervisor gave an overview of his approach to economic development and talked about retail and commercial opportunities under consideration, as well as some under development.

The Construction, Real Estate, and Development Council is sponsored by Rand Commercial and going forward will be co-chaired by Michael Chang, Rand Commercial and Tivona Cunningham, PTS Contractors.  Many thanks to Judith Bachman, Esq. and Michael Shilale, Architect for their leadership of the CRED Council for the past several years.


Economic Development / Government Affairs

The second quarter of each year always brings lots to discuss at the RBA ED/GA meetings. The state budget is due on April 1 and legislative session ends in June.  This year was no different.

When we met in April, the budget still hadn’t been passed and that opened up a lively discussion regarding process and politics and how they contribute to the delays. In May, with a budget in place, we were privileged to host a special session with Hope Knight, President & CEO, Empire State Development Corp. and Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. The Commissioner gave a detailed analysis of the 2023 enacted budget and discussed elements important to Rockland and our region.

In June, at the end of the legislative session, we were joined by Eric Warren, Senior Project Manager for the Mid-Hudson Region of Empire State Development. Eric, Rockland’s direct contact at ESD, is well versed in our interests and discussed a wide range of economic development issues and programs.


Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

HTA had a very spirited conversation about short-term rentals brought about by a shooting incident at such a venue.  There were very diverse opinions on regulation of the industry and the value these rental options provide.  Two key elements for discussion centered about the affect on our hotels and ensuring that people providing these rentals pay both the county bed tax and sales tax. At the same meeting, Lynne Allan and Lisa Falone of PayServe Corp. provided insights into the Spread of Hours rule.  “Spread of hours” pay is an extra hour of pay at the minimum wage rate that must be paid to certain non-exempt employees (i.e., employees who must be paid overtime wages) when the interval between the beginning and end of an employee’s workday (the so-called “spread”) exceeds 10 hours. This regulation has particular impact in the hospitality industry.

 HTA also had a very lively session in June when we heard from Chloe Petretti, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Hotel Nyack, about their rebranding and the opening of their new farm-to-table restaurant, appropriately named “The Farm.” We also heard from Doug Foster about changes at Nyack Boat Charter. And, there were reports on the Nyack Film Festival and the PRIDE Festival.   


 

Green Council

The Green Council’s 2nd Quarter featured 3 speakers who addressed topics such as the benefits of adoption and implementation of the NY Stretch Energy Code 2020, reuse of building materials & zero waste development, and concerns about reaching the goals of 100% carbon neutrality in NYS by 2040.

In April, Mark Thielking, principal of Logical Efficiency, LLC based in Katonah, NY provides a number of services to private and public entities including the Town of Bedford NY. He serves as the Director of Energy and Sustainability and as such has a long history with adopting high performance building requirements for the Town. Mark provided an overview of the Town’s participation with  NY’s Clean Energy Communities and specifically the adoption and implementation of NY Stretch Energy Code 2020. The NY Stretch Energy Code was created for any municipality in NY to adopt if they wish. This version of the Energy Code allows for buildings and residences to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency and be made solar and electric vehicle charging ready.   Mark provided an overview of the process the Town used to adopt the Code and how it is being implemented and enforced.

On May 10th, Gretchen Worth of CR0WD (Circularity, Reuse & Zero Waste Development) addressed the Green Council regarding the means to achieve sustainable, equitable, and resilient built environments by promoting deconstruction, salvage, and reuse of building materials and architectural elements through data-driven policy recommendations, engagement, and education. We learned that construction and demolition waste (90% from demolition) is generated at two times the rate of municipal solid waste. Buildings account for more than 50% of resource extraction and solid waste production. Globally 39% of greenhouse gases originate from our built environment. Conservation through reuse provides economic benefits, socio-cultural shifts, and environmental stewardship.

On June 14th, John J. Murphy, International Representative of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Sprinkler Fitters (a member of the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition of NY) presented concerns about reaching the goals of 100% carbon neutrality in NYS by 2040. In his estimation, a renewable electric grid will not support this goal – as admirable as it is – by 2040. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be imperiled by this goal, which also has economic and social consequences. One possible contributor to the solution to this conundrum is the re-education of new skill-sets for jobs that will be supplanted. The green power industry is on the threshold of burgeoning.

Respectfully submitted,
Tony Lisanti, CEM, CPHC
Integral Building and Design
Jan Degenshein, AIA, FAICP, LEED AP
Degenshein Architects
Green Council Co-Chairs

Our annual Legal Update with Michael Hekle and Thomas Petriccione, Esqs. From Jackson Lewis was June 8, 2022 via Zoom. They covered what is going on federally and at the New York State level, such as, COVID 19 updates, marijuana laws, and expanded whistleblower laws. We also learned that the Restrictive Covenants commonly used by companies need to be re-evaluated frequently since there are many considerations in having candidates sign them and, also have current employees sign them.

The group is in its summer hiatus and will be returning in September 2022. Membership in this group is free as are our meetings for all RBA member companies. We meet every other month, five times a year, so our meetings are in February, April, June, September, and November being cognizant of the fact that December and January are probably the busiest months for our HR members.

If you are responsible for the HR function at your company or have an HR staff member – this group is for you! We have been around since 2013 and would love to see the group continue to grow.  Since this is an invitation only group, please reach out to one of us to be added to our invitation list.

Sincerely,

Liz O’Halloran & Lena Bodin

Co-Chairs

Doreen:  db@rocklandbusiness.org

Lena:  lena@4prs.com

Liz:  ohalloranl@coned.com

An exciting quarter for the PMC featuring experts to enlighten us about Tik Tok, Google Analytics, and email marketing.  

April 19Let’s Talk about The Tok! This was a great session presented by renowned expert Wave Wyld. Keeping up with the latest social media craze isn’t easy, but Wave provided an excellent breakdown of what Tik Tok is, how it is being used, how to get started, how videos have an opportunity to go viral, and essentially provided attendees with a great 101 primer. Considering that Tik Tok now has over 1 billion monthly active users, this is certainly a platform that can’t be ignored.

May 17 – Understanding Google Analytics. Local website expert Michael Loewenberg of MESH Business Solutions, Inc. in New City was the guest speaker for our May meeting. Michael gave an excellent overview of Google analytics and not only why it is important, but how to understand the stats and some of the information that can be gleaned by this incredible free tool. There will also be a migration to the newest platform – GA4 and he offered some insight into the differences. This is another tool that should not be overlooked. It is your opportunity to gain free insight into your website’s performance and your overall marketing performance by understanding how people find your site and how they use it when they get there.

June 21 – Email Marketing, how to make the most of your email list and email Best Practices. Constant Contact’s Thomas Nettesheim, was a terrific source of information on preparing email marketing and understanding that the two main goals of email marketing are to grow and retain the customer base and increase engagement. He also explained how to craft subject lines to increase open rates, how to understand and utilize reporting and how to expand your email marketing. He reminded us that you want to have a clear call to action in the email, send between weekly and monthly and send out emails midweek. Personalizing content, doing A/B testing, adding social media sharing and polling can all be helpful in increasing open rates and engagement. Marketing industry and PR averages are 22.15% for opens, .84% for clicks and 11.27% for bounces.


 

Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals

We want to cultivate ambition and passion and create a comfortable, educational environment to help guide younger business professionals get acquainted with reality, and onto the proper path to success.

Chaired by David Palma, Payed Processing, Jason Horowitz, Triforce Commercial Real Estate LLC

REBOP has held monthly Zoom calls to network and connect with our peers.

To learn more about REBOP visit the REBOP Facebook page facebook.com/reboprba


 

Technology Initiative

April was Cybersecurity with Harry Srolovitz.  With threat actors becoming more creative, social engineering attacks evolve as well, making it increasingly difficult to protect your organization. Harry discussed the importance of implementing cyber hygiene policies and continuous user education. Harry highlighted five steps to help put your organization in the best possible position to defend against cyber threats that lurk online.1. Learn how to detect a potential social engineering attack2. Educate users on devices3. Implement multi-factor authentication and password management4. Keep up with software and hardware best practices5. Choose the right technology
Maintaining your cybersecurity is an ongoing process.  With the constant flow of people throughout your organization, especially in the form of new and departing employees, educating each member of your organization on cybersecurity best practices is an endless process.While it begins at onboarding, both new and existing employees require constant reminders and updates on the steps that they must take, every day, to protect your organization against an evolving number of cyber threats.

May was FCC deadline with Erik Knight.  In August 2019, the FCC released a mandate requiring telephone networks to sunset long-standing POTS phone line connections, requiring a full phase-out nationwide by August 2, 2022. That deadline is fast approaching and could cost any organization still using these outdated phone lines thousands of dollars per month. What Are POTS Lines Used For? POTS lines (stands for Plain Old Telephone Service) are copper-wired telephone lines that use analog technology. They have been used for over 100 years and have an estimated 36 million lines still active. But their lifetime is quickly ending.POTS lines are common in business-related applications. In addition to their use for voice phone calls, organizations may have POTS lines for the following uses: 

  • Fax machines
  • ATMs
  • Elevator call boxes
  • Fire alarms
  • Burglar alarms
  • HVAC systems
  • And More

Any organization with POTS lines is looking at a significant increase to their telephone bill starting in August 2022. Right now, one line can cost $65-100 per month.  Why Are POTS Lines Going Away?  The FCC finds POTS to be unsustainable for several reasons:  1. POTS Lines Are Expensive.Each POTS line currently costs an estimated $65 – $100 per line, and multiple can be found throughout an organization. 2. POTS Lines Are Exposed.  3. POTS Lines Lack Monitoring Abilities.  4.POTS Lines Face Limited Support.

June was TD Bank Cyber Fraud Part 1 presenter Barbara Shapiro In a TD Bank survey of treasury and financial professionals at the Association for Financial Professionals Conference, 44 percent of respondents identified risk of payments fraud and cyber security threats as their greatest challenge for 2022. This concern isn’t without reason: 74 percent of companies in the 2017 Association of Financial Professionals Payments and Fraud Control Survey reported they were victims of payments fraud. Combating these risks means that companies need to step up their defenses. While there is no one, guaranteed solution, every participant in the business financial ecosystem – financial institutions, third-party payment processors and companies – must do their part to help prevent and minimize cyberattacks and payments fraud.While many businesses already have some amount of risk processes in place, a smart organization will look for opportunities to invest in and operationalize their fight against cyber criminals. Among the suggested methods to reduce fraud and cyber risks:

  • Take advantage of email or text alerts which can notify the company of payment orders that have been sent from your account
  • Review and reconcile bank accounts daily to check for discrepancies, which will help flag suspicious or missing payments or wires almost immediately
  • Verify all payment orders or account changes issued by company executives, customers or vendors via phone or in person, instead of relying on email confirmation
  • Segregate employee functions:
  • No employee should be responsible for both recording and processing a transaction
  • Limit the number of people who can authorize purchases
  • Set a dollar limit that each person can authorize
  • Designate a computer to be used exclusively for banking transactions and restrict all other Internet and email access. Similarly, do not access company financial information on any other computer. Doing so will help block the most common entry point for cyber criminals
  • Create strong passwords, change them frequently, and prohibit the use of shared usernames and passwords. Make sure to also update login information if an employee leaves the business
  • Take advantage of email or text alerts from your bank, which can notify the company of payments or transfers that have been sent from your account
  • Do not click on links in emails that indicate your bank needs you to update account information online. Do not provide password or other authentication credentials over the phone to anyone; it is highly unlikely a financial institution would request that type of information from you
  • Conduct background checks on all new hires, including contractors. Many successful cyberattacks leverage someone who is familiar with a company’s systems
  • Train and educate employees about fraud and how to spot suspicious emails
  • Form and maintain a risk and fraud management committee. Cyber criminals are constantly innovating their techniques and executives need to meet the challenge head-on by staying up-to-date on the latest technological and security solutions

 

Women’s Leadership Council

Fuel your business aspirations with the help of Women’s Leadership Council

Designed for female business owners and professional women. WLC provides networking, inspiration and resources. Keeping in mind the safety and wellness of all participants, both in-person and zoom presentations are scheduled to provide information and stimulate discussions about topics that, especially now, impact women in business.

In April, Sarah Goforth, then outgoing Executive Director of VCS, Inc., led us through a frank and candid presentation of her professional journey. Entitled “Calculated Risk: The Key to Successful Leadership”, Sarah shared inspirational stories of her career risks, challenges and successes, concluding that we need to be open to and unafraid of change in our career path, as well as how persevering through workplace challenges can create real organizational change and effective leadership.

In May, WLC hosted a very informative health panel discussion titled “Women’s Lives Matter”, with three distinguished women doctors, Drs. Anita Bhola and Sunny Mitchell from Montefiore Nyack Hospital and Dr. Amala Chirumamilla from the Bon Secours Medical Group at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dr. Sunny Mitchell, a breast surgeon, kicked off the panel discussion about women’s breast health, stressing early detection and informing WLC members about her surgical practice’s no scar surgical techniques; Dr. Bhola talked about the importance of sleep, providing helpful tips to aid in falling sleep and staying asleep; and Dr. Chirumamilla discussed cardiovascular disease and the importance of early detection.  The panel was so well received and there were so many questions, most attendees stayed on well past the hour to keep the conversations going with our esteemed panelists.

June saw the return of WLC’s Wine-Pairing dinner at Paramount Country Club and the return of in-person WLC networking! It was a delightful evening which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. Talented jazz saxophonist Herve Alexandre kicked off the cocktail hour, and the delicious five-course dinner paired beautifully with the wine selection, graciously provided by Oak Beverages and expertly described by sommelier Andrew Wepner.  Our keynote speaker was Dr. Helen Rothberg, professor at the School of Management, Marist College and author of “The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender.” Sharing stories of life lessons learned from bartending and working in the service industry in her college years, Dr. Rothberg captivated our dinner audience with leadership techniques, from taking action to effective communication to having empathy, and brought her own specialty cocktail to share with and toast our group.  Door Prize announcements brought the evening to a fun conclusion.  Heartfelt thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Mental Health Association of Rockland County, Gold Sponsor MHA Westchester, Music Sponsor GARNER Historic District and of course our Wine Sponsor Oak Beverages.

Finally, it is with a mixture of great fondness and some measure of regret on their part, that co-chairs Marian Rokeach and Robin Rosenberg announce they are stepping aside as co-chairs.  Marian served as co-chair dating back to the days of the Women’s Forum, the predecessor group to Women’s Leadership Council, and WLC extends its heartfelt thanks and appreciation to her for her many, many years of wonderful service to women in business!  Robin’s work on the NYS Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and her many other professional business endeavors are making it harder and harder for her to devote as much time as she would like to WLC.  Robin, along with Marian, kicked off WLC from its inception, bringing many new leadership ideas and programs to our members over the many years she served.  Both Marian and Robin will continue to serve on the Board of Directors of RBA.

WLC looks forward to continuing to present inspiring programs and growing its membership, bringing back in-person meetings and networking opportunities as conditions allow, with co-chair Stephanie Madison, and newest co-chair Julie Sadowski, who we enthusiastically welcome!

On behalf of Marian, Robin, Stephanie and Julie, we wish everyone a great summer and look forward to seeing you at the next WLC meeting on September 29th when WLC will welcome Nyack Center Executive Director Kim Cross.

Co-Chairs: Marian Rokeach (mgrdir@aol.com);

Robin Rosenberg (robin@garnervillearts.com);

Stephanie Madison, madisons@mharockland.org;

Julie Sadowski, julie@rocklandgives.org