Timothy C. Donohue believes that drawing attention to Westchester County’s rising stars of business will encourage them to stay local.
“It would be really easy for us to go into our cubes, bury our heads and just grind it out every day, but people like to be recognized for their achievements. It’s a motivator and tends to unite professionals to their communities,” says Donohue, a lifelong White Plains resident who is Senior Associate at the Stamford, Conn., location of CBRE Inc., the world’s largest real estate brokerage firm.
In his early 30s, Donohue is also Chairman of “40 Under 40 Rising Stars,” a program of The Business Council of Westchester geared toward honoring business professionals under the age of 40 who make a mark in their profession and in their community. Members not only find support through the organization’s networking and charitable events, but also receive friendly greetings when running errands or ferrying children to activities.
“It’s not immediate or quantifiable, but if we reward people for their contributions to the Westchester community, it is possible they will feel a sense of commitment,” Donohue says. “It’s very synergistic like that. People feel an unspoken responsibility to give back and plant roots.”
Each year, the organization receives about 100 nominations, and a selection committee chooses 40 members based on criteria such as success in an individual’s field of work and philanthropic engagement. “We pile into a room one morning, and it’s kind of like ‘Twelve Angry Men,’” Donohue says, “but at the end of the day, it’s pretty democratic and we feel really good.”
Members of the organization, which started in 2004, are chosen not just from the ranks of large corporations, for which Westchester is well known, but also from a vast pool of entrepreneurs, small businesses, biotech companies and non-profits.
“The 40 Under 40 Rising Stars has really become a very coveted recognition,” says Dr. Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester, “and the alumni group has grown into a very powerful network which has connected businesses, professionals and served the community.”
Rising Stars offers a variety of intellectual events, charitable endeavors and laid-back fun. It has “adopted” Abbott House, an organization serving 1,200 children, and a round-table discussion with the county’s mayors is in the works for 2013.
One concern Donohue voices is that hiring has slowed due to the economy. “We haven’t identified the next generation yet,” he says, “but that’s not unique to Westchester.” It’s just another issue for the vibrant group to tackle, while focusing on business development and civic and educational engagement.
“The nice thing about Rising Stars is that every year you get 40 new faces who are intrigued, inspired and motivated to participate,” Donohue says.
Finding Capital Through the Coalition
The Westchester Coalition for Business Development has enjoyed far-reaching success tackling issues that impact business. The group, started by The Business Council of Westchester in 2010, advocated for the repeal of the MTA tax, which was ruled unconstitutional; it supported the building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, which has been fast-tracked for federal funding; and it lobbied for rezoning White Plains’ “Platinum Mile” to allow for mixed-use development, a change approved in August 2012 that is expected to revitalize the office park corridor.
The Coalition – a high-level, 20-member committee of business and community leaders – is also involved in ongoing efforts to help young entrepreneurs find access to capital for establishing or expanding a business.
Coalition Chairman Timothy M. Jones, Managing Director/Partner with the Elmsford-based Robert Martin Company real estate and investment firm, notes that regulations and the current state of the economy have made it difficult for banks that are lending at the local level.
“In the old days, a community banker could make a decision based on his knowledge of the person and the business, but that’s become a much, much more risky and expensive decision,” Jones says. “One of the things we’re doing is identifying and creating sources of capital for smaller, younger businesses.”
The Coalition has partnered with the Inner City Capital Connection (ICCC), which helps develop businesses that are more urban-oriented. Businesses chosen by the ICCC have received additional training and introductions to potential equity partners.
The Coalition also works with the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, which helps businesses access government funding while also identifying both sources for and users of private capital. The coalition pinpoints businesses that might be a good fit for private or government capital and encourages them to apply.
“We’re also working to develop our own sources of capital,” Jones says. “Access to capital is one of the really critical pieces. That right now is a big focus for us.”
Another effort that appeals to Coalition members is the promotion of mixed-used development, which is popular with both young professionals and empty nesters. By allowing a mix of residential, office and commercial uses, the concept creates vibrant communities where people can work, live, shop and dine. It’s good for the environment, especially since it allows the reuse of impervious surfaces, which reduces harmful runoff. It reduces automobile trips, allows for the re-development of vacant office space and creates a better community.
The city of White Plains recently rezoned its “Platinum Mile” office corridor area to allow for mixed-use development. “I hate to use the word holistic because it’s over-used,” Jones says, “but it is a more holistic community. You develop a sense of place.”
RISING STARS CLASS OF 2012: 40 UNDER 40
- Lauren Amsterdam, AMSTERLAND
- Nelson Barreto, Diebold
- Katrine Aliha Beck, Wilson Elser
- Michelle Brier, Guiding Eyes for the Blind
- Lori Calandruccio, Arc of Westchester
- Daniel M. Chen, Consolidated Edison of NY
- Michelle Citino, DoubleTree by Hilton Tarrytown
- Courtney Clark, CBRE Inc.
- Christopher Dessi, Silverback Social
- Tracey A. Di Brino, Carr Workplaces
- Samantha Durante, Medley Media Associates
- Jeanette Gisbert, The Volunteer Center of United Way
- Guochun Gong, Ph.D., Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Sasha Guillame, Mrs. G’s Services, LLC
- Matthew Holst, AIA, Reckson, a division of SL Green
- Jamie Imperati, Professional Women of Westchester
- Jennifer Johnson, Lois Bronz Children’s Center
- Nicholas Junta, Northwestern Mutual
- Kurt Kannemeyer, St. Christopher’s, Inc.
- Giancarlo Lanzano, DGC Capital Contracting Corp.
- Thomas Madden, Town of Greenburgh
- Sabrina Magid, Advanced Dentistry of Westchester
- Dan Malasky, Esq., United States Tennis Association
- Paul J. Marino, Esq., Marino Partners, LLC
- Michael Martinelli Jr., Today Media Inc.
- Barbara McRae Robinson, The New York School for the Deaf
- Justin J. Moundas, York International Agency, LLC
- Richard Nightingale, Westhab, Inc.
- Aaron Ondrey, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Mark Pauletti, Arctic Mechanical, Inc.
- Edward Philipp, Rye YMCA
- Tiffany Phipps, BioMed Realty Trust, Inc.
- Michael Radosta, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
- Stefano Safaei, Ares Capital Advisors of Wedbush Securities
- Sherry Saturno, Westchester Medical Center
- Caitlin H. Snyder, Mercy College
- Adam Stone, Examiner Media
- Richard Thomas, NY AREA (Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance)
- Franklin Vasquez, Mahopac National Bank
- Peter Zimmar, Heritage Realty Services, LLC