What’s Happening: 3rd Quarter 2020

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

Hospitality & Tourism Alliance

HR Connexions

Professional Marketing Council

Rockland Emerging Business Owners and Professionals

Technology Initiative

Women’s Leadership Council




Joint Meetings:

Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

Green Council

For over a decade the RBA’s Green Council has been advocating and educating the business community the benefits of adopting sustainable strategies.  Many of the Green Councils programs are also very valuable to the RBA Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

Amidst the turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic the RBA has been delivering essential information and programs (albeit virtual) to our members.

In June we welcomed David Singer, the President of Original Energy to lead a discussion on “The Future of Energy in Our Region”

David highlighted America’s transformation in recent years to cleaner energy.  While renewable energy (I.e. solar, wind) has been increasing, the transition to natural gas from less efficient fuels such as oil and coal has helped the US become a leader in reductions in carbon emissions.   Hydraulic fracturing or fracking has helped the US become energy independent.  Ironically, NYS policy has led to a moratorium on natural gas in our region.

Transitioning to cleaner more renewal fuels must continue.   However, reducing the energy consumption of our buildings is just as important.  Energy efficiency is sometimes considered the ‘first fuel’.    Buildings use almost three quarters of the electricity we generate in the US and account for almost half of our carbon emissions.  Reducing energy use in buildings is both easy and cost effective.

Our September event is perfectly timed.  Adam Boese of the Daylight Savings Company will be presenting “Getting to Zero Net Energy (or at least heading towards) – Strategies and Incentives to Save Money and Energy”.  Adam’s Company has help business and building owners save energy and access significant incentive dollars by adopting numerous energy saving strategies.   All of us pay extra money on our utility bills each month towards what is called a ‘Systems Benefit Charge”.  These dollars are redistributed through NYSERDA to businesses throughout New York State.  For many years, Rockland County has lagged behind other counties in spending our incentive dollars.  We can do better.  Join our Zoom meeting on September 22 at 4pm and learn how you can benefit from these amazing cost saving strategies.

As always, we at CRED and Green are looking to provide programs that are timely and valuable to our members.  If you think of a program or service that would benefit you, please reach out to us and we will work to deliver a presentation on the topic.




One of the most hard-hit sectors of Rockland’s business community has been the Hospitality Industry.  Rockland Hotels are struggling to stay in business and most have cutback to survive.  The two largest areas of business loss are Corporate Travel and Weddings & Events.  The big question looming is if the largescale corporate business will ever return to anywhere near where it had been.  We have spoken to four of our hotel members and this is what they have to report

Pearl River Hilton, William Maloney G.M.

Occupancy is very minimal.  During the week they have some limited business and leisure travel.  On the weekends more leisure travel, mostly from within driving distance.  For safety concerns their pool and fitness center are closed until further notice.

The Pearl River Hilton voluntarily chose to temporarily close in late March out of an abundance of caution, and reopened their doors to guests in mid-July.

To give families and small groups the opportunity to reconnect in a comfortable and relaxed space, they just launched Destination Dinners, which offers private dinner in one of many unique and memorable settings around the property, such as on the back lawn or on the bridge  Their restaurant, Two Henrys is open for dinner with limited indoors and outdoors seating and the response to outdoor dining on the back patio has been tremendous.

Hilton CleanStay has helped give guests the confidence and peace of mind to return to Hilton, though guest room demand remains understandably light.  There is weekend demand from people that want to get away, even if for one night, without flying.

They have postponed many larger events until next year and for the remainder of the year they are booking meetings and events limited to 50 people, taking advantage of the outdoor space and ample indoor space their property offers.  Known for their highly acclaimed Wedding Package, they have hosted some beautiful small weddings and look forward to many more until it is feasible and responsible to host larger events.

West Gate Inn, Gregory Parseghian, GM

Business has fallen off but there is a steady flow of room occupancy and they have been able to pay their bills.  The mix of customers; travelers, workman in trades and health-care workers has remained the same as before.  Their location, right off the ramp of NYS Thruway, has helped their visibility in attracting travelers.   Unlike most Hotels in the County having rooms accessible to parking has been an advantage.  They have in some cases reduced their rates to stay competitive.  They have kept open their Restaurant, which has helped.  As a side note, Lisa’s award-winning Cheese Cake business (made in the Hotel’s Kitchen) is doing well.  They are one of the only hotels that has not had staff layoffs.

Quality Inn, Rosey Sopariwala, GM

Corporate Travel is way down.  One area that has remained strong has been contractors/blue collar workers. When the epidemic hit, they had to furlough staff and they are having a hard time getting them back and finding replacements.  They have not lowered rates as they feel it probably won’t help. While business is way down the cost of staying in business has not receded, the big killer has been the property tax.    While struggling they have realized that going forward, they will have to update and modernize their building to be competitive.

They did get a boost of business from the storm that knocked out power and internet service for many. Their sister hotel, Days Inn on Route 59, is doing well because it is a low-price alternative in Rockland. In a word they are SURVIVING.

Double Tree, Naji Saliba, Sales Manager

Occupancy since the start of the pandemic, while fluctuating, has been around 40%.  One of their major sources of revenue, business travel has disappeared. Their business is coming from third party bookings and locals taking a staycation. Their swimming pool has drawn a lot of guests.  While they traditionally do a lot of wedding and family event business, all of it for this year has been cancelled.  Fortunately, 90% has re-booked for 2021.   They have adjusted their room rates from time to time to stay competitive. They have closed their catering and instead of their very popular breakfast buffet they now offer grab and go to their overnighters.

They are working with a trimmed down Staff. Their Front Desk is now One person, previously it was occupied by 3 people. They too, use the CleanStay program that is recognized for its high standard of keeping rooms safe.




Lot’s Happening As You All Know…

Our last meeting was in February 2020 just before we went into Lockdown. Liz and I hope our readers are all safe and healthy and back to as close to normal as we can expect.

Our February meeting was a “Meet & Greet” open forum where participants come together and get to talk about any topic on their mind. We had a very engaging discussion on some of the new legislation that was going to impact HR. We have an open forum Meet & Greet at least once a year to allow participants to socialize and discuss open issues that anyone is dealing with and looking for answers. Of course, the HR Connexions community is always available to help each other out with HR practice questions that come up throughout the year.

Due to NYS Lockdown, as have many other businesses, we have been on hiatus from meetings and webinars. However, as we go into September and back to normal in Phase IV for most businesses, we thought it is a good time for us to have our annual Legal Update in webinar format to update HR Connexions group members on the legal landscape, especially since we are getting a lot of questions on business openings and employee issues that come up such as childcare concerns for those parents who choose to have their children attend school remotely or how HR handles employee issues when working with an immune-compromised employee who may opt to continue to work from home. We also have some new laws/legislation that are going into effect in September and some that maybe phasing out…

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 Doreen or myself to be added to our invitation list.

Email Doreen  or  Email Lena

Liz O’Halloran & Lena Bodin




Our new way of living – virtual meetings, social distancing, working from home – hasn’t stopped this committee from coming together to learn and grow! For the past few months, we’ve held our monthly meetings via Zoom and have discussed a variety of topics including virtual meetings, social media, crisis communications and more.

For us, marketing and communications practices have changed and we’ve used our last two meetings to dive deeper into our new way of operating. From reimagining events and fundraisers, to learning how to effectively market our services and products, we’ve workshopped ideas and provided each other with support to ensure we’re still being effective in our jobs and organizations.The Professional Marketing Council is made up of business owners, marketing executives, communications experts and others seeking to network with each other, further understand the current landscape in the industry and grow their knowledge.

If you are in the marketing or communications field, or you’re in charge of marketing for your company or organization, we’d love to have you at our next meeting.




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, and Michael Khekoian, Computuners

REBOP, a brand new council within the RBA, officially launched Q1 of 2020.  Our first event at the end of 2019 to gain attention to the up-and-coming council had over 70 people in attendance.

We have had several meetings and plans to launch a full educational program separately, but unfortunately, due to COVID, this all had to be postponed.

REBOP immediately shifted to monthly Zoom calls to continue to network and speak with our peers.  We speak about all things business and life oriented. A big topic has been how COVID has affected your business and how you have had to adapt.

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




Educational and interactive discussions addressing the ever-changing business needs – for those with a technology background, and those without.

The RBA Technology Initiative Council has had biweekly Zoom meetings “PIVOT or “PERISH”. For business owners, this means first coming to terms with the situation, and then examining how to pivot what used to be “business as usual” in order to add value to clients and drive alternative revenue streams.

Complacency is the one thing a business owner must avoid at all costs in order to survive a crisis. Now more than ever, our RBA members need to be agile and willing to adapt at a moment’s notice. In a time of uncertainty, flexibility is critical. Make sure you are reaching out to every one of your clients, as well.

We discussed if you typically offer in-person service, then turn to technology. Today’s new reality is virtual and business owners need to digitally adapt their typical services. Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you should be closed for business. Set up virtual office hours so you can continue to meet with clients. We discussed different platforms to offer webinars to help clients navigate this difficult time.  We are in this together. Help your clients do the same—discuss the ways they can offer current services online and discuss new ways they can help their own clients.

Take away: Find ways to adapt your services digitally. 

We also discussed that people are more tuned in than ever before, watching to see how companies are responding in the pandemic. Look at your marketing materials across channels to make sure they clearly articulate your business’s value. Maybe a current campaign is no longer relevant to the environment or perhaps there’s an opportunity to market differently.

Look at your marketing imagery and messages—are they appropriate, sensitive, and relevant to the situation?

Are you putting enough focus on the right channels to reach the most people?

Success, if not actual survival, depends not only on foresight and sensitivity to these shifts, but the ability to quickly act on them.

“Pivot” might sound like one of those startup culture buzzwords, but it’s actually as old as business itself. All it really describes is the way a company changes strategy, usually modifying the way revenue is generated, how operations are handled, what customers it serves, or what products it offers.

Pivots don’t always happen as a result of choice, however. Economic conditions and the marketplace are two of the biggest factors that force companies to change their strategies, or to fail.

Pivots don’t have to involve re-inventing the wheel. Oftentimes it can literally be a minor turn in direction, slightly askew of what you were doing previously. Be practical and identify the aspects of your company that can be maintained and re-used once you’ve settled on the new direction to work in.

As technology evolves, so does convenience and consumer preferences. We’ve seen the taxi cab industry get eviscerated by the rise of ride-hailing apps, but this sort of displacement has been happening for many, many decades in every industry imaginable.

Forced change is never welcome or necessarily enjoyable, but, like a brush fire clearing out a forest, a pivot can open up a whole new phase of expansion for your business.

Make the best of whatever technology changes you have to make, and enjoy the journey!


The RBA Technology Initiative Council presents educational and interactive discussions addressing the ever-changing business needs in the technology and computer industries.

The Hudson Valley P-TECH is working to develop the high-skilled, well-educated workforce our region needs to support long-term economic growth.




Enhance your business and career!

Networking, inspiration, and resources designed for female business owners and professional women.

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.  Zoom presentations are scheduled to provide information and stimulate discussions about topics that especially now, impact women in business.

For the month of May our Zoom topic was ‘ Resilience and Adaptability in Business’ presented by Jennifer Mallory, Owner & Founder, New Tea Coaching and Consulting.  Participants learned that in this time of uncertainty, being resilient and able to adapt are key to one’s future success.  Jennifer was able to provide much insight about this topic.

June’s Zoom meeting focused on ‘Healthy Leadership in Stressful Times’.  Our speaker was Stephanie Madison, President/CEO, Mental Health Association of Rockland County.  Leading during a pandemic is sure to impact emotional and mental wellness. Material was presented on how leaders can support their own health and that of their employees during these difficult and unprecedented times.

August’s topic was titled ‘Creating Lasting Change: Lessons from the Suffrage Movement’.  This program, led by Robin Rosenberg, co-chair, drew from the experiences and lessons of the Suffrage Movement to spark a group conversation on the lasting changes each of us has made to overcome challenges in our professional lives.

Join us on September 24 for our next Zoom meeting.  More details to follow.