Orange County Partnership - News

  • Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester.

COVID-19 Case Study: Task Force Makes Recommendations to Fuel Economic Growth Post Pandemic

As Orange County and the Mid-Hudson region begins phase two of the reopening process for the economy, business, government agencies and economic development groups throughout the region are looking at best practices, safety precautions and workforce-related actions necessary to successfully relaunch operations as we continue to cope with COVID-19.

While there are many predictions on how the coronavirus pandemic may change how we do business in the future; some forward-thinking organizations are looking at current impediments to business growth and how certain reforms can unshackle business in New York State post pandemic.


One such initiative is being undertaken by the Business Council of Westchester, which formed a 46-member BCW Westchester Economic Recovery Task Force that represent a wide range of industry sectors in the county including: arts, biotech, energy/environment; entertainment, hospitality, transportation, finance, healthcare, higher education, municipalities, not-for-profits, professional services, real estate brokerage and construction, retail and small business.


The task force issued a report earlier this month that included an extensive list of strategies and recommendations to assist the state and Westchester County in their reemergence from the coronavirus pandemic.


In the report, among its recommendations concerning the real estate brokerage industry, the task force advocates for extending tax credits to developers/owners who make capital expenditures for new construction and to owners/ leaseholders of older properties that install modern HVAC in their buildings with improved air circulation in tenant spaces and other common areas in multi-tenanted buildings.


Other real estate-related recommendations included:


  • Simplify/Amend SEQRA to expedite approval processes and encourage developers who find state regulations too stringent to enter the market.

  • Reopening schools, which is in phase four, may be appropriate to open sooner in some counties that are under control.

  • Streamline cumbersome business licensing requirements and regulations that inhibit businesses from opening or operating in the state.

  • Other issues of concern include having access to municipal offices to access and file necessary documents to effect transactions.


Among its key recommendations concerning real estate construction/development include:

  • More expeditious timelines for regulatory and public review by municipalities for permitting, planning, and inspections.

  • Financial support for low income housing tax credits from the states or federal government.

  • Just as New York State signed into law the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act (EDTPA), which expanded N.Y.S. Executive Order No. 202.10 (March 23, 2020) that provides limited civil liability for healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 crisis, the state should expand this umbrella of protection to include commercial real estate owners (CRE).

  • Clarification on the applicability of the current COVID-19 crisis as it relates to a landlord’s right (similar to the Citizen Arrest statute) that permits a property owner to restrain or “detain” persons whom they have probable cause to believe have committed or about to commit violations of their property.

  • New York State should recommend (not mandate) all commercial real estate property owners create the position of a COVID-19 Compliance Officer in order to facilitate the flow of Covid-19-related information, updates to rules and regulations, sharing of best practices.


The report, which is the first of several to be prepared by the Task Force, is available online at: