Business Buzz: Budget Clashes, $15 Million Iona Donation

What you need to know in the Westchester business world this week.

County Budget Woes: Astorino vs Nonprofits

The elimination of funds for various Westchester non-profit organizations proposed in County Executive Rob Astorino’s $1.8 billion county budget for 2016 is ruffling plenty of feathers. Calling the elimination of funding to the arts shortsighted, ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam has spoken out, arguing that funding to the arts is one of the few non-profit investments that yields almost immediate financial returns. “Every dollar the county allocates to ArtsWestchester triggers another $40 in other funds,’’ said Langsam speaking at the first of three county budget hearings in Yonkers earlier this week. “Put another way, the $330,000 cut to ArtsWestchester could cost the arts in this county some $13.2 million.” And Nonprofit Westchester (NPW) and coalitions that represent hundreds of nonprofit agencies throughout the county recently held a press conference, prior to the first hearing, to urge the county to reconsider its funding cuts. The organizations urged the county to restore funding for nonprofits programs slated to be eliminated and launched an advocacy campaign #KeepWestchesterThriving. “The cuts in County Executive Rob Astorino’s proposed 2016 budget impact the fabric of our community,” said Joanna Straub, Executive Director of NPW. “The proposed budget calls for major cuts to funding for many services that are essential for Westchester to thrive. It is our job as citizens to advocate for our community so that everyone can reach their full potential and fully contribute to the community.” Defending Astorino’s budget is The Business Council of Westchester, which released a statement commending Astorino for “once again proposing a fiscally responsible budget that includes no tax increase, keeps spending flat, protects essential services and reaffirms the County’s triple A bond rating.” The budget must be adopted by Dec. 27.

Iona Receives Largest Gift In Its History

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Earlier this week, Iona President Joseph E. Nyre, PhD, announced a gift of $15 million from Robert V. LaPenta to the Iona Forever Campaign. It is the largest gift in the College’s 75-year history, and will support the redesign and transformation of Iona’s School of Business. LaPenta’s gift will transform Hagan Hall, the home of Iona’s business school, with a new structure connecting to the existing building—nearly tripling the space available for students and faculty. It will house state-of-the-art classrooms, case study and meeting spaces, faculty offices, a lecture hall, a business career center and an expanded trading floor classroom. Mr. LaPenta, an Iona alumnus (’67, 00’H) and Board of Trustee member, is chairman, CEO and founding partner of Aston Capital, a private investment company specializing in secure military communication companies and companies with green technology. He is one of the College’s most generous benefactors, previously investing in the construction of the LaPenta Student Union Building, the Ryan library, and the trading floor for the School of Business. “I am proud to support Iona’s mission of creating graduates that are smart, ethical, creative problem solvers,” said Mr. LaPenta. “My time at Iona prepared me well to be successful in business, and positively impact businesses and the livelihoods of others. I believe this gift will enhance Iona’s strong business school performance and reputation well into the 21st century.”


55 Bank Street Projects Breaks Ground

Construction has officially begun on the $250 million mixed-use project at 55 Bank Street in downtown White Plains. The transit-oriented development will provide a mix of residential and retail space. The developer, LCOR—a fully integrated real estate company specializing in property development, investment and management—expects the project to offer a total of 760,000 square feet to the White Plains community. “The groundbreaking at 55 Bank Street serves as a pivotal moment in White Plains, as the first large-scale residential development since 2009,” said James Driscoll, senior vice president of LCOR. The project will be developed in two phases: Phase 1 will include a 16-story, 288-unit residential building with 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 381 parking spaces. Phase 2 will consists of a 16-story building, complete with 273 homes, 3,350 square feet of retail space and a mix of above and below-ground parking, consisting of 189 parking spaces. The total 561 units will have 20 percent workforce-designated housing.

County Airport to Get $30 Million in Upgrades

As announced earlier this week in The Journal News, Westchester County Airport is set to receive roughly $30 million worth of upgrades, part of a modernization effort.  Slated improvements include an updated and streamlined baggage check-in system, more bathrooms and additional seating areas. The footprint of the airport may also get a boost, increasing by about 20 percent from its current size of roughly 40,000. “Right now, we’re just behind the curve on how we treat our customers,” Peter Scherrer, the airport’s manager, told The Journal News. While the improved baggage area will be completed toward the end of 2016, other upgrades are further off.

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BCW Hosts Panel on 2016 Presidential Campaign

The 2016 Presidential campaign is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable in recent memory. That was the consensus of a panel of seasoned political journalists and pollster who were featured in last week’s forum presented by The Business Council of Westchester. Called “The Road to the White House,” the program featured Adam Edelman, Chief Political Reporter for the Daily News; Beth Fouhy, Senior Political Editor for MSNBC; Steven Greenberg, Chief Pollster for the Siena Research Institute and Lane Filler, Columnist and Editorial Board Member for Newsday. Fouhy of MSNBC discussed the national demographic trends affecting the election, noting that “we are becoming a browner and younger nation. Hispanic voters are key to the GOP,” she said noting that Marco Rubio may be the best bet for the Republicans in 2016. Siena’s Greenberg presented an overview of polling data from previous elections. He noted that since 1900, there have been 15 Republican presidents and 14 Democratic presidents. “We are a 50/50 country,” he said. 

Filler of Newsday said the big issue in the 2016 campaign is the role of corporate political speech, while Edelman’s presentation focused on how social media is changing the way candidates interact with the news media and voters. When asked to name the two nominees for 2016, all agreed that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic choice, and many said Marco Rubio would be the GOP nominee noting the importance of winning Florida.

Two Real Estate Giants Partner

Friedland Realty Advisors, with offices in Harrison, NY and Manhattan, recently announced a significant investment from Elmsford-based Robert Martin Company, a real estate investment, development, and management firm. Through the investment, Friedland Realty can now offer clients the combined expertise and resources of two of the longest-standing real estate companies in the area. In addition, Robert Martin Company’s geographical footprint throughout the tri-state area will help expand the reach of Friedland Realty’s team of brokers. Both companies will continue to operate as separate entities. “Friedland Realty has been a leader in the Westchester and New York City commercial real estate markets for decades and the investment by Robert Martin Company will help catapult our business to the next level,” said Bob Friedland, founder and CEO. “Robert Martin Company has a stellar reputation and a proven track record of success, making them the perfect ally as we move Friedland Realty’s next chapter. Robert Martin Company has been a leader in real estate investment, development and management for more than 55 years and, for several decades, was Westchester County’s largest diversified developer and builder. The company has developed and acquired over 20 million square feet of real estate across virtually every asset class.

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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