Rockland Business Association Annual Expo Showcases Diversity of Rockland Industry

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

BOCES students displaytheir culinary creationsHomes for HeroesA baseball organization, an architect, a technical school, a veteran’s housing program, a hotel, a pharmaceutical start-up. What do all these have in common? They are just a small sample of the enormous diversity to be found in Rockland’s business community and just a few of the hundreds of members of the Rockland Business Association who exhibited at the RBA’s annual Regional Business Expo last Tuesday at the Park Ridge Marriot Hotel.

“If you do business in Rockland County you would be cheating yourself if you don’t become a member of our organization,” says Al Samuels, president of the RBA. “We address issues that affect everyone doing business here, and every business benefits from our advocacy.”

The annual expo, which is open free to the public, offers members the opportunity to publicize information about their business both to other members and to the community at large. Visitors can also pick up the RBA membership guide which, in addition to listing member contact information, provides a wealth of demographic information about Rockland along with a complete listing of every elected official connected to the county from the President of the United States on down.

The architects of Michael Shilale Architects, Inc.
The architects of Michael Shilale Architects, Inc.

Member businesses range from schools to non-profits to banks and financial planners to large corporations to health and health-related services and beyond. Good Samaritan Hospital operated a booth alongside Provident Bank; the Rockland JCC and Rockland Community College sat at tables next to utilities such as United Water and Orange and Rockland.

The Rockland Boulders staffed a booth not only to promote the baseball club, but the activities and events hosted at the stadium in the off-season as well. Directly across the aisle, Rockland BOCES culinary students cooked up samples of their wares—ratatouille crepes and orange-chocolate cake. Their teacher, Kendall Brenner, has also organized the first ever Rockland food event, the Smoke and Fire Food Fest, to be held at Provident Bank Park this October 12.

Homes for Heroes, a non-profit that builds affordable housing for homeless veterans, displayed plans and prices for the new housing it just completed in Tappan. Nearby, John Cirilli and Michael Shilale of Michael Shilale Architects proudly displayed photographs and plans of some the many schools and industrial buildings they have built or restored throughout Rockland.

In another aisle, Holiday Inn Orangeburg offered visitors shrimp freshly cooked by master chef Ula Robertson while Director of Sales Regina Miller extolled the hotel’s full line of services both for business and recreational guests. Not far away, one of Rockland’s newest business arrivals, Protein Sciences Corporation, distributed information about its recently FDA approved flu vaccine, Flublok. Rachael Felberbaum, Ph.D., and Susan Manganello, RN, BSN were there to answer questions about the unique medication, which does not contain any flu viruses, egg product, latex, formaldehyde or antibiotics. The corporation has leased two buildings in the Pfizer complex, and plans to increase the production of its vaccine from 125,000 doses in 2013 to as much as 5 million doses in 2014.

This is one of the new businesses that Al Samuels, when asked about the health of the Rockland business community, refers to. “Like everywhere in the country,” he explains, “we lost businesses, and association members, during the recent recession, many of them small businesses, never to return. But a new kind of business is finding a home in Rockland, such as the Bloomberg Data Center in Orangetown or Protein Sciences in Pearl River.”

He continues, “The Rockland Business Association will continue to advocate on behalf of all businesses, in order to create and promote the county as an attractive place where business can thrive.” As demonstrated at the expo, they are already well on their way.