BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Orangetown – With a year and a half gone by since he took the helm of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation, REDC President and CEO Michael DiTullo took the opportunity to speak with the Rockland County Times about past successes and future plans for bringing business to the county.
Since its inception in 1987, the REDC’s goal is to attract companies and encourage them to invest and expand. According to DiTullo, the group has worked to bring local officials and industry management together for business, present Rockland as a business-savvy county, and utilize both its skilled workforce and easy access to New York City.
“We try to both internally and externally market the county as a place where businesses can come and grow and prosper,” DiTullo explained.
DiTullo explained that strategic marketing to outside groups was an ongoing activity with the REDC which will likely expand in the future. Their marketing aims to draw groups associated with biotech and life sciences, data centers, and advanced manufacturing, three major skilled job sectors in Rockland County, and retain them within the county.
Among the most recent programs is a data center which will be used by Bloomberg. The $500 million investment has already been confirmed, with site work and preparation already complete thanks to what DiTullo characterized as proactive action from the Town of Orangetown to secure preapproval for the site plans.
“If they didn’t do that, we would not have been able to make this deal,” DiTullo said.
DiTullo also credited Orange & Rockland’s recent Orangetown additions, including substation and subterranean transitions, as critical infrastructure improvements which made a large-scale data center possible in the town.
Aside from the Bloomberg data center, DiTullo also explained how the REDC brought Protein Sciences, a biotech firm specializing in the development and manufacture of flu vaccines, to the Pfizer facility. As part of Pfizer’s planned move out of the facilities, the REDC is working with Pfizer to reposition and market the campus for new users and repurpose former Pfizer employees, transforming a setback into an asset.
“Though [Pfizer’s move] was not good news, it presented opportunity for us because we had excellent facilities to market and an excellent workforce with many of the Pfizer associates who were no longer needed at the campus,” DiTullo explained.
Ultimately, the diversification of the campus is the goal, with DiTullo hoping for the hiring of thousands of new employees with several new businesses moving in to replace Pfizer.
Among future prospects, DiTullo also announced the REDC has “turned up the volume” in its talks with brokers, developers, and other members of the real estate community by forming a real estate council, which often serves as a crucial line of information on one of the main resources for business development: Real property.
“Many of them now in the region contact us when they have a requirement,” DiTullo explained. “That’s a very, very positive, very good thing.”