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Long Island CEOs are optimistic despite most struggling to fill job openings, poll finds

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A poll found that almost 90% of Long Island business leaders are having trouble either finding people to fill open positions or keeping workers.

Terri Alessi-Miceli, the president of the Hauppauge Industrial Association on Long Island, which represents the nation’s largest industrial park second to Silicon Valley, said entering the third year of the pandemic, they are helping business executives connect with education and workforce development.

“We're doing a bunch of programs and also have a very active education workforce for the workforce connection committee that really is chartered with bringing educators together with businesses,” said Alessi-Miceli at HIA-LI’s annual summit, held in-person for the first time since the pandemic.

A majority of CEOs that attended were participants in the latest Siena College poll to measure the region’s economic expectations for the next year. Accounting firm PKF O'Connor Davies collected viewpoints of 270 Long Island CEOs on topics including real estate, local and national confidence levels, projected revenues, profits and salary projections.

Siena pollster Don Levy said Long Island business executives are more optimistic than in the rest of New York.

“The majority of them feel as though there’s going to be a better year ahead than the one that we have certainly come through. And then there’s the optimism that certainly shines through in Long Island,” he said.

The poll shows over half of Long Island CEOs have better expectations for their industry this year than last year, entering year three of the pandemic. They believe their revenues and profits will grow despite having issues filling open positions.

Alessi-Miceli said companies are looking at more untraditional ways to fill positions, like retraining current employees, hiring workers with disabilities and attracting mothers re-entering the workforce with kids back in schools.

She said COVID-19 has redefined Long Island’s workforce.

“If it was not an essential business, many businesses were allowed and had to allow their employees to work from home,” Alessi-Miceli said. “Many of them have come back, but it looks different now so many of them have what are called staggered work schedules. So not everybody is back all the time. So it's really changed the face of and the way I think businesses do business with their employees.

Natalie is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.