10 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • JANUARY 2021
INNOVATING LI’S FUTURE
BY PAUL TRAPANI
President of LISTNet Long Island
In the 1990s, Long Island was going
through a major recession.
The defense industry, which many
Long Islanders relied on for employment
for years, had shrunk dramatically.
There were a lot of empty office
buildings and unemployment was
high. A lot of people were worried
about the future of the region.
It was during that time that LISTnet
(Long Island Software and Technology
Network) was created by Peter
Goldsmith with a group of founding
members who shared the belief that
creating a strong technology ecosystem
on the Island was part of the solution.
They were right, and LI emerged from
the recession with a thriving software
and technology sector.
During the pandemic, we have seen
how the power of technology allows
businesses to continue to operate. But
businesses will need to keep leveraging
technology to continue adapting
and stay competitive. One thing we
can do as a community is help connect
businesses with the people who can
help them with the technology they
need to succeed.
Businesses are also dependent on being
able to hire people to help them build
their solutions. As such, we should
foster connections between the universities,
colleges, trade schools, and
the local business community. The
more that businesses and educators
can interact, the more that what the
schools teach can align with skills that
businesses are looking for. The schools
can become a pipeline for talent as
those businesses grow.
Nassau and Suffolk counties also need
new businesses. As such we should
encourage, support, and mentor
entrepreneurs and help connect them
to sources of funding when they need it.
Entrepreneurs are true innovators.
They look at the world and see a way
to make it better. In order to succeed,
though, they need to successfully manage
their businesses as well.
Finally, we need to create more spaces
for entrepreneurs, innovators and other
dreamers. Five years ago, LISTnet
created the Digital Ballpark in Plainview
as a coworking space for technology,
creative, and innovation-based
companies. Though the lineup has
changed over the years, it has become
a home base for 25 companies.
Many team up to win business they
could not get individually. Most importantly,
though, it has become a place
where the ideas mentioned above happen
on a small scale and then spread to
the community at large.
“We face new challenges, but there is also new
opportunity to innovate.”
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