Originally published: August 20, 2012 5:14 PM
Updated: August 20, 2012 8:02 PM
Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko’s decision to resign, in order to become the executive director of Accelerate Long Island, is good for the region. But it’s tough news for the huge town, which is grappling with major budget problems. On balance, it is a positive step toward creating a new economic core: high-tech industry.
Accelerate is a coalition of research institutions — Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Hofstra University, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and Stony Brook University – and the business community, including CA Technologies, Canrock Ventures, a venture capital fund, and the Long Island Association, which incorporated Accelerate and will house its two-person staff. The goal is to build a vibrant technological economy here.
The Island’s research strength is sure to churn out good ideas that can become thriving companies paying good wages. But if past is prologue, a lot of those start-up firms are likely to leave the region, because of its high costs. Accelerate is supposed to change that pattern. In fits and starts, the Island has been trying to pull together its research strengths for two decades. But this specific approach owes a lot to Lesko. He did the research, looking at the way San Diego helped its technology industries grow, and he played a key role in the launch early last year, along with the Rauch Foundation. The search committee cast a wide net for a director, but it finally reached out to Lesko, because he knows the region and the players — and has the ability to harness them harmoniously.