Long Island Advancement of Small Business is a local networking organization that has the sole focus of helping your business succeed on Long Island. While our programs and events are designed to help grow your business we also work with local, county and state legislature to help the Long Island business community have a unified voice for your concerns and to protect your interest.
It all began in 2008 when the President of one of the organizations, of which I was a member, decided to raise dues by another fifty dollars. I told the president that times were tough and the country is facing a recession. The reply was, “They can afford it.” When I heard that, I knew that I no longer wanted to be associated with that organization.
As I looked around, I noticed other organizations, which, although professed to have an interest in helping small business, found it more beneficial to focus on large companies.
After doing my research, it became obvious to me that there was not a single organization that is really committed to small business. This is quite remarkable considering that statistics showed that over 90% of all of the companies on Long Island have 49 employees or less. I saw an opportunity and decided that Long Island needed an organization whose only interest was small business. While other organizations focused predominantly on networking, I envisioned helping small business with education and growth and to collectively work to having our voices heard by our elected representatives.
A business plan was developed and presented to two people that I know and respect, Dr. George Bouklas and Murray Kleiner. Dr. Bouklas is a business psychologist, and Murray Kleiner, president of his own company, is a good friend of mine. I met with them at a diner on Route 347 for over 90 minutes. In that time they reviewed the business plan and asked numerous questions. When the session was over Dr. Bouklas said it was doable and Murray said, “I think you have something really different that can be helpful to Long Island’s small businesses.”
I realized that this was not something that I could do by myself, but I needed to surround myself with successful small business owners that were equally passionate about my vision.
I was a member of the Long Island Connects, a networking group. One of the first people I met there was Ron Gold, President of Marketing Works, who had a lot of contacts in media and politics. I told him about my idea, and he said he wanted to be involved. He also introduced me to Teresa Ward, Owner of Teresa’s Family Cleaning, and SBDC Small Business Owner of the Year in 2009. She, in turn, invited me to SBDC to meet Gloria Glowacki, Director of the Small Business Development Center on the campus of Stony Brook University. Gloria and I spoke at length about my plans and visions, and when I finally asked her to serve on our board of directors, she accepted. When the time came to become incorporated, Sandra Radna stepped in and took on the task. Since then Sandra has been the Attorney for the Corporation. Sandra has also been serving on the Executive Committee, Programming Committee and the Board of Directors.
Having been a member of a number of networking groups, I was privileged to become acquainted with a number intelligent, innovative and driven business people. I invited them to a meeting in June of 2009, and we formed LIASB’s Board of Directors. We introduced ourselves to Long Island in a big way. We had an evening kickoff event in October, 2009 with over 600 people attending. Suffolk County Supervisor, Steve Levy was our main guest speaker. That evening 30 people joined LIASB.
We started holding meetings at some of the hotels in the area, but this got to be very expensive. Brian White, an LIASB board member, introduced me to Jim McGowan and Jack Krueger of Adelphi University. I made a presentation to them, and they obviously liked what they heard. They have allowed LIASB to use Adelphi’s Conference Center on a regular basis for the last three years. It has been a wonderful relationship and Adelphi has been very supportive of the LIASB program.
One of LIASB’s goals is to make sure that our elected representatives hear the voices of Long Island’s small businesses. Our first challenge came in 2010 when, with Ron Gold and Teresa Ward in the forefront, we took on the unfair MTA Tax. They started a petition and collected over 15,000 signatures. They went as far as visiting a local pro-MTA Tax politician, who was the deciding vote for this bill, and asked him to reconsider. He was not in the least bit interested in what these members of LIASB had to say. As a point of information, this politician is no longer in office
In October of 2010 LIASB celebrated its one-year anniversary as an evening event at one of the local hotels. We had the Director of Economic Development for Suffolk County as our keynote speaker and a turnout of over 200 attendees. We continued to generate more interest, and we gained more members. One of our more successful endeavors has been the quality of our events, which have been praised by all who attend. From the roundtables, workshops and seminars, the LIASB has established itself as an organization that presents programs that are interesting, stimulating and enjoyable.
This did not happen by accident. In 2012 we structured a Program Committee made up of board members. They have done an excellent job of finding new talent that meets the high standards that have been set by this committee. The Board of Directors continues to try different ways to generate interest and membership in the LIASB. We have partnered with other groups like the Association of Contingency Planners—Long Island, the Melville Chamber of Commerce and The Hispanic Network. At our December 2012 Open House, we presented to the members and guests our goals and objectives for 2013. So far we have met many of those goals with regard to both day and evening events, and we continue to look at other ways to increase membership.
In 2013 we made changes to the LIASB Board of Directors and added two new key members that have taken on the responsibility of Chair of the Marketing Committee and Chair of the Grant Committee. Changes continue to be made, a new website being established and marketing material being developed.
The Board has taken a hard look at the types of companies we should be attracting to the LIASB. Hopefully, this effort will take what was a dream and turn it into a positive and exciting reality that is always helping and being the voice for Long Island small business.