Name: Beth Zafonte
Title: Director of Economic Development Services
Company Name: Akerman LLP
Years in your current field: 33
What professional organizations or associations are you a member of? WX – New York Women Executives in Real Estate, CREW Network, IIUSA – Invest in USA
What was your greatest professional accomplishment in 2017?
A record number of my professional goals were achieved in 2017. My most challenging work last year involved negotiations to achieve amendments to significant City and State multi-year incentive awards on behalf of two clients. I was able to successfully conclude the negotiations and achieve results that were beyond expectations in both instances. I love it when the “problem projects” come my way, which they often do, and I can resolve the obstacles in a manner that is a win-win for all of the stakeholders. In the case of the economic development work that I do, ultimately creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base in a community is very satisfying.
What trends are you seeing so far this year in your field?
New York City will see more laws and initiatives to help minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) gain access to government business. A new local law, expected to be effective April 30, reduces the M/WBE solicitation requirement threshold on ICAP projects from $1.5 million to $750,000. This has a huge impact on projects seeking ICAP tax abatement. Developers need to be aware of this. The comptroller’s new 2018 “M/WBE University” will hold workshops designed to help M/WBEs get certified with the city, navigate the procurement process, and gain access to government business. The needle on the 2017 M/WBE’s 4.9% of the $1 billion in awarded city contracts will be moving up.
When I am not working, I am…
When I am not working I find great joy in directing my energy and full attention toward my family and friends and engaging in various philanthropic activities.