One of the strongest backbones of a community is its ability to connect with its businesses, but more importantly, connect them with each other.

The MacArthur Business Alliance (MBA) represents the businesses, industries, and general commerce of Suffolk County, mainly with a focus on the area around Islip MacArthur Airport (ISP). A league composed of various chambers of commerce, as well as individual businesses in the Islip-Brookhaven areas, the MBA took it upon themselves to hold their first annual networking event: “Hangar Fest.”

Last Thursday evening saw the Executive Fliteways Hangar on the northern part of the ISP property host nearly three hundred guests from dozens of businesses in the ISP area, as well as live music, elected officials, and photo opportunities with private jets and supercars.

Chris Coluccio, President of the MBA, and CEO of Techworks Consulting, Inc., said that the greater ISP area “doesn’t get the credit it deserves.”

One of the strongest backbones of a community is its ability to connect with its businesses, but more importantly, connect them with each other.

“In the five-mile radius around this airport, there’s 10,000 businesses and nonprofits,” said Coluccio. “So, it became my mission, and our mission as the MacArthur Business Alliance, to make sure that this area can support all of you who just want their families to stay here on Long Island, and who want to see this Ronkonkoma area grow in a great way.”

Rick Ammirati (pictured above), recently elected Vice President of the MBA, and president of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce said that the networking event is one at which businesses receive a whole new level of exposure.

“We’re literally on airport property in a private hangar,” Ammirati told The Messenger. “This took about four or five months of hard work to put together with a very good group of ambitious people, and the airport has been very receptive to it as well.”

Ammirati said that ISP Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken and Deputy Commissioner Rob Schneider “welcomed us with open arms.”

Ammirati also spoke optimistically about the future of the greater ISP area, referencing several projects that aim to revitalize the area and make it more conducive to local business, such as the Station Yards development under construction at the LIRR Ronkonkoma Station, the expansion at Jake’s 58 Casino, and Midway Crossing, which is planned to feature a convention center, hotel, and streamlined connections with rail-to-air service.

“We have so much happening here and we have a great regional airport,” said Ammirati. “We as the MBA would like to be one of the voices to help harness a little bit of that energy and funnel it into one nice voice to get things done.”

The event was so anticipated by the community, that Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter (R-West Islip), and nearly the entire Town Board attended in person. Carpenter discussed the progress on the Midway Crossing project, namely a proposed Life Sciences Center that she says would produce the “six-figure jobs that we need here on Long Island to keep our young people here so that we don’t pay to educate them only for them to leave.”

Carpenter also said that, in addition to the Life Sciences Center, a convention center, a Department of Life Sciences, and a STEM Center are also proposed for the project.

Furthermore, Carpenter discussed relocating the ISP terminal to be adjacent to the LIRR Ronkonkoma Station, the “busiest train station outside of Jamaica.”

“That is what we need to sustain a sense of region because we all know taxes are high, the cost of living here is high, so we have to make sure the jobs that are produced here are the kind of high paying jobs that can enable everyone to afford to stay here,” said Carpenter.
The Messenger caught up with Supervisor Carpenter to learn more about the projected future of the greater ISP area.

“People love MacArthur Airport and I constantly hear that we need more flights and destinations,” Carpenter told The Messenger. “Southwest has just announced nonstop service to Miami.”

Carpenter says that anyone can correspond directly with the airport and the airlines to request destinations. She said that the latest nonstop service to Vero Beach, Florida, offered by Breeze Airways was initiated by public input.

Moreover, Carpenter says that investing in a local airport is vital to the profit of a region. She has taken notes from airports of Providence, Rhode Island, and Huntsville, Alabama, who “know how important their airport is, but they have the ability to make it even better.”

(Photo above) Supervisor Carpenter (right) serves a ping pong ball to Chris Coluccio (left). (Credit – Matt Meduri)

“All of the businesses around here profit so much from the airport, and in other areas of the country, the business community really coalesces around their airport so much that they contribute financially to help market their airport,” said Carpenter. Carpenter says that Midway Crossing, Station Yards, and other developments are all part in parcel to that plan. Carpenter said she has been in active discussion with airports around the country to gauge their community investments and partnerships and a develop a comparable plan for ISP.

Carpenter also shared that the Town is discussing a possible Amtrak route directly to Ronkonkoma that would connect riders to Penn Station, and then north-south up the East Coast. She says that such a move could “truly help alleviate” traffic by allowing commuters and travelers easier access to destinations directly from Ronkonkoma.

In addition to Supervisor Carpenter, (pictured above left to right) Town Councilman Jorge Guadron (D-Central Islip), Town Councilman Mike McElwee (R-West Islip), and Councilman John Lorenzo (R-West Sayville) were also in attendance.

“The MBA has been around for a long time, and I love the fresh blood and fresh vibe it has,” Councilman Lorenzo told The Messenger. “To have multiple chambers from all over the county and businesses come here and network is a wonderful thing for the area. I’m all for it.”

County Legislator Steve Flotteron (R-Brightwaters) also attended Hangar Fest and shared his thoughts with
The Messenger.

“I used to represent this area when I was on the Islip Town Council,” said Flotteron. “I think this venue is amazing, some people don’t even realize what we have in our backyards. MacArthur is on the map as a business epicenter for Suffolk County.”

After opening remarks, the crowd was treated to live jazz from Sasha Levitan on vocals and keyboard, Aaron Kinard on vocals, trombone, and percussion, and Kevin Twigg on the drumset.

Open bar was provided by Twisted Cow Distillery of East Northport.

Dozens of businesses and organizations set up tables to engage with the public: Edesia Restaurant and Pizzeria of Bohemia, Harvest Bakery of Holtsville, Philly’s Pretzel Factory of Ronkonkoma, Toast Coffeehouse of Bay Shore, Po’boy Brewery and Ciders of Port Jefferson, and Spider Bite Beer of Holbrook offered free food and beverages to attendees. Paws of War of Nesconset and Pal ‘O Mine Equestrian of Islandia offered information on their animal services.

Additionally, Cigar Cigars of Sayville sold and cut cigars for customers outside the hangar.

(Picture left to right) Ann Pisano, Cara McNamara, Kevin Hyms, and Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce President Ed McNamara (Credit – Matt Meduri)

Various chambers of commerce also attended: Farmingville Hills, Greater Middle Country, Holbrook, and Ronkonkoma.

Present also were ISP, Executive Flitways, Habitat for Humanity, Entrepreneurial Operating Systems, AHRC Suffolk, Big Brothers and Sisters, East End Thrive, the Boy Scouts of America, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the Alzheimer’s Association, Tri-tec, L.I. News Radio, JVC Broadcasting, Listen to Lead, Patchogue Arts, M&T Bank, Miller Business Resource Center, Dudes Gourmet, the Fish Store, Tea and Munchies, HIA-LI, and Gary Lee Brown, a former football offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers who grew up in Brentwood.

Event Pros and Viper Studios helped capture the moments of the event, as well as coordinate audio, impromptu video interviews with VIPs, and a 360-photo shoot booth.

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Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.