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Former Greenport Village trustee will head Stony Brook Incubator

Riverhead Town’s longtime Community Development Agency director is moving on, but not far.

Chris Kempner, who has been CDA director since January 2008, has resigned that position effective May 15 and will be taking over a new position as the associate director of the Stony Brook University Business Incubator in Calverton.

“I am looking forward to joining the Stony Brook University Economic Development team and to work closely with Dr. Yacov Shamash, vice president for economic development, who has accomplished so much for the region,” Ms. Kempner said in a press release.

“Together, we can undertake a concerted effort to reach out to eastern Long Island economic development officials and political leaders to accomplish the goals of creating more jobs and economic growth for the region.”

The Riverhead Town Board formally voted to accept her resignation on Tuesday and to appoint Dawn Thomas, who is currently a deputy town attorney, as interim community development administrator at an annual salary of $100,000.

The Suffolk County Civil Service department has given the town approval to appoint Ms. Thomas and says she meets the qualifications for a community development administrator, according to town’s resolution.

The Town Board also authorized Supervisor Sean Walter to sign an agreement with Ms. Kempner’s consulting business, called Free Money LLC, to provide project development and grant consulting services to the town.

The Riverhead CDA was established in 1982 and is responsible for obtaining grants for economic development projects, affordable housing and home repair programs, and other revitalization programs in town.

Ms. Kempner also is an attorney, a licensed real estate broker and a former Greenport Village Trustee.

She also was selected as the Riverhead News-Review’s Person of the Year in 2009.

“Appointing Chris Kempner as associate director of the Business Incubator at Calverton will greatly strengthen Calverton’s contributions to the East End economy, creating new economic opportunities with sensitivity to the region’s unique heritage,” said Ann-Marie Scheidt, director of economic development at Stony Brook, in a release. “Her network of regional connections, as well as her outstanding skills and talents, will provide an invaluable resource for the Calverton program.”

The Calverton incubator first opened in 2005 and currently has six resident tenants, and 40 other companies that are regular users of the incubator’s agriculture and consumer sciences center.

Former Riverhead Deputy Supervisor Monique Gablenz had been the director of the incubator from 2005 until last fall, when she retired, and Jeff Salens was running the incubator until the end of 2016, when he retired, officials said.

The 24,000-square-foot facility comprises offices, conference rooms, and laboratories with both fresh and salt water access, as well as a state-of-the-art food processing facility, and aims to provide an environment to help new businesses succeed on the East End.

The Incubator provides the opportunity for businesses to collaborate with researchers, other scientists, faculty and professionals from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the New York State Small Business Development Center who can guide and advise them from a product or business concept to commercialization, according to officials.

Among the companies that have benefited from the incubator are North Fork Chocolate, Subtle Tea, Long Island Pickle Company, Graphen Laboratories and Applied DNA Sciences, among others.

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Courtesy photo: Chris Kempner