The following are answers to The Foggiest Five, a set of questions asked to influential Long Islanders on the future of the region. This round features answers from Hilary Topper, CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc. The views presented are the author’s alone, and do not represent those of The Foggiest Idea:
1. What is your favorite part of living on Long Island?
The scenery is amazing here. I love driving along Ocean Parkway and seeing the beautiful beaches. Then driving out east and seeing the vineyards and farm land. There’s everything here and it’s a beautiful place to live.
2. What is our greatest regional challenge?
The cost of living is outrageous. Housing costs are sky high and salaries don’t compensate enough to meet those rising costs. This all filters down to the young people, which creates “brain drain.” Many young people can’t afford to live here so they are moving out. The salaries in NYC are much higher than the ones on Long Island as well, which creates more demand for young people to live and work in New York City.
I’d also like to see a 21st Century transportation solution similar to the NYC subway system. LIRR is great to get people in and out of Long Island but not around the Island. Therefore, we are all stuck driving cars and there is a ton of traffic and congestion.
3. What is an easy first step to solving this challenge?
That’s a tough question in terms of housing. I wish I knew!
In terms of the rail system, it would be great to be able to have a subway system similar to NYC where you can get around easily without a car. This would limit pollution, traffic and congestion. I would also love to see more bike lanes, particularly in Nassau County. Suffolk County has ample lanes but Nassau has few and far between.
4. What has been the biggest change that you’ve seen on Long Island during the course of your career?
The biggest challenge has been the competition that we’ve faced with NYC firms. For some reason, many businesses think that PR firms in NYC are more prestigious than those on Long Island. However, what many don’t know is that many of us come from big agency backgrounds. I was with Ogilvy & Mather PR, Hill Holliday/PR and Ruder Finn/PR for several years prior to building my business. Interestingly, many of the people I’ve employed have gone on to bigger agencies in the city. Therefore, the businesses hiring the PR firms in the city are in essence hiring those who worked on Long Island.
5. What do you think Long Island will be like in 20 years?
The roads will be more crowded in 20 years! It’s crowded now. I think if we don’t make a drastic move and make some infrastructure changes, we can be in trouble in terms of overcrowded areas. I do think a municipal transit system would be beneficial, along with more bike lanes.
Hilary Topper is a blogger with more than 35,000 unique visitors to her lifestyle blog, hilarytopper.com. She also blogs for blogcritics.org. In addition, She hosts a weekly radio show on blogtalk radio, Hilary Topper on Air, which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/hilarytopper.
Hilary currently serves as CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc, a PR firm that works with a variety of clients on getting people to know their business through PR and social media programs. Hilary loves to run, play golf and spend time with her family in Long Beach, NY.