State of the City 2012: Growing NYC's Economy

By - JAN. 12, 2012

The following are Mayor Bloomerg's remarks on growing NYC's economy from his 2012 State of the City address.

“That’s the second major challenge I’d like to address: making our economy a global capital of innovation for the 21st century. Last month, we took a big step toward re-defining our economic future by forming a historic partnership with Cornell University and The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology to build a new science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.

“Building the new campus will generate up to 20,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs, not just for PhDs, but for building staff and office workers. Cornell and Technion will also create educational programs for 10,000 New York City students and 200 teachers annually – a partnership that will begin this fall.

“It’s going to be a transformative project – and today, we’re glad to be joined by the Dean of Computing and Information Science at Cornell, Daniel Huttenlocher and the Director General of the Technion, Dr. Avital Stein. As we work to create the jobs of tomorrow, we’ll also plan for and create the space that the companies of tomorrow will need to grow.

“In Lower Manhattan, we’ll work with Pat Foye and David Samson at the Port Authority to keep progress going on the new towers at the World Trade Center. On the far West Side, we’ll work with Related to continue bringing new jobs and housing. And we’ll complete the Signature Theater’s new home on 42nd Street.

“In the area around Grand Central, we’ll work with the City Council on a package of regulatory changes and incentives that will attract new investment, new companies and new jobs. To expand space for film and digital media companies, we’ll open a new incubator that will help us build on last year’s record success in film and television and continue to compete with Hollywood for post-production business.

“And we’ll launch a new non-profit called ‘Space Works’ that will create long-term affordable rehearsal and studio space for artists citywide, including on Governors Island.

“As we plan for future growth, we’ll also create the jobs New Yorkers need today.

“Here in the Bronx, the first wave of 2,000 construction workers will break ground on New York’s next great shopping destination: Eastchester’s $270 million ‘Mall at Bay Plaza.’ In Port Morris, Smith Electric Vehicles will open its first East Coast plant and more than 100 New Yorkers will go to work assembling zero-emission trucks and vans.

“A new supermarket, stores, offices and a new charter school will bring 200 new jobs to a long-vacant spot at the Bronx Hub on 149th Street. We’ll begin renovation work on the Bronx River Art Center, creating a new media center, photography studio and gallery.

“We’ll begin re-zoning East Fordham Road to allow for more private sector investment and explore economic development possibilities on Webster Avenue. To do that, we’re working with a group of neighbors we call the Bronx Quad: the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, Montefiore Medical Center and of course, the emerging basketball powerhouse, Fordham University.

“We’re also stepping up efforts to keep some 3,600 good-paying jobs where they belong – at the Hunts Point produce market. New Jersey is making a big pitch to lure the market away, but we’re fully committed to modernizing the market and keeping those jobs here.

“So today, in partnership with Council Speaker Christine Quinn, we’re adding another $25 million to what will now be the City’s $87 million commitment to re-building the market. And that’s not the only big news here in the Bronx.

“We’re also launching a new effort to bring jobs to the most talked-about empty building in the Bronx: The Kingsbridge Armory.

“In collaboration with Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., today, we are releasing a Request for Proposals for a new operator of the Armory. We’re putting aside our differences to do what’s best for the city. That’s what leadership is about. It’s not about a series of running arguments – it’s about getting things done.

“We’ve heard from a variety of interested parties, including those who want to develop it into recreational space. And we’re hopeful that the Kingsbridge Armory, vacant for some 15 years, will soon be transformed into a place that benefits the community and employs community members.

“In every borough in 2012, we’ll bring new jobs on line and make investments that will attract more visitors.

“In Queens, Jet Blue will open its new headquarters in Long Island City and an expansion of the Queens Museum of Art will double its size. On Staten Island, we’ll create a new blue-collar-friendly industrial business zone, we’ll redesign the zoo’s aquarium, and we’ll help break ground on a major apartment and retail development at the Homeport, creating more than 1,100 construction jobs.

“In Brooklyn, more good blue-collar jobs will come to the waterfront both in Sunset Park and at the Navy Yard. We’ll bring new jobs to Coney Island, with new rides and attractions. And we’ll open the new Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards – bringing big league sports back to the borough where they belong.

“These new attractions will also help bring even more tourists to our city – and last year we hit a record 50 million, but we can do even better.

“There are countless foreign tourists who seek to come to our city only to find it painfully difficult to secure a visa. That pain is not only hurting them – it is hurting us by costing us jobs. At a time when so many people are out of work, that’s just unacceptable.

“This year, we’ll work with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to make it easier to get tourist visas, especially for those coming from growing markets like India, China and Brazil. Millions of people from around the world want to come here and spend money in our hotels, restaurants, stores and attractions. We shouldn’t stand in their way.

“Now, as we create these new jobs, we’ll also do more to help New Yorkers fill them. Last year, the City’s Workforce One Career Centers made a record 35,000 job placements. This year, we’ll help even more New Yorkers find work with four new Workforce One Centers, in all three public library systems.

“We’ll help more immigrants who are skilled professionals obtain the licenses and certifications they need to find work here in the city. We’ll create a new incubator that will offer foreign entrepreneurs the tools and legal support they need to develop their businesses here. And we’ll increase opportunity for the City’s minority- and women-owned businesses, so that those firms compete for and win more City contracts.

“Most important of all, we’re going to mount a major new effort to help the New Yorkers who’ve defended our nation’s freedoms find the jobs and housing they deserve.

“Today, there are some 9,000 unemployed veterans in our city. There’s no excuse for that. And that’s why this year, with the help of the Robin Hood Foundation, our Workforce One Centers will offer new services to connect veterans to jobs.

“We’ll also work with a property manager called Urban American to attract more private landlords to the rental discount programs they run for returning veterans. Our men and women in uniform have stood up for our country. Now it’s our duty to stand up for them.

“The cost of housing is something many New Yorkers struggle with. Since the national recession hit in 2007, the cost of living in New York City – like nearly everywhere else – has gone up. And not just housing, but food, transit and all the key parts of a family’s budget. But there’s one thing that in all fairness hasn’t gone up: the ability of those at the bottom of the economic ladder to pay for those essential needs.

“In America, we want people to work – to set the alarm clock and punch the time clock. That’s why we incentivize work through programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit. You work, we help.

“The minimum wage is another way to help those who can only find jobs with entry-level wages by incentivize and reward work. Like the EITC, it helps those who are trying to help themselves. But setting the minimum wage is also a balancing act – setting it high enough so people can get by on it without having a negative economic impact.

“Right now, I believe, we are slightly out of balance. The genius of the free market is not always perfect. Two of our neighbors – Connecticut and Massachusetts – have raised their minimum wage above the Federal standard to address higher costs of living.

“And so while we would prefer the Federal government to act to keep us competitive, this year, we will join Speaker Shelly Silver in pushing for a responsible raise in the minimum wage.

“Our city just cannot afford to wait for Washington. Not when it comes to illegal guns, not when it comes to climate change, not when it comes to creating jobs and not when it comes to raising the minimum wage.

“Now, some economic studies have shown that raising the minimum wage can reduce youth employment. And so we’ll work to counter-act that by continuing to increase our Summer Youth Employment opportunities. And to really drive at the heart of the unemployment problem, we’ll go to the neighborhoods where the problem is worst, like here in the South Bronx, and in Central Brooklyn.

“We’ll launch a new effort to mobilize businesses, community groups, non-profits and City agencies to create new job opportunities in these communities. For instance, in partnership with the Young Men’s Initiative, we’ll develop opportunities for New Yorkers to ‘earn while they learn’ the skills required by the knowledge economy. We’ll also create incubators specifically to help low-income entrepreneurs get off the ground.

“If we can succeed in raising employment in the most distressed neighborhoods – and I believe we can – then we can not only improve people’s lives, we can not only improve the safety and stability of those neighborhoods, we can build on the work of the Center for Economic Opportunity in helping the next generation of residents break the cycle of poverty that has plagued those communities for too long.

“If ever there was a community that knows how powerful targeted city investments can be, it’s where we are today, the South Bronx.

“This area was once so burned out and abandoned that it was compared to Dresden after World War II. Today, the South Bronx is a poster child for urban revitalization, and one of the people who really deserves enormous credit for that is with us today: Mayor Ed Koch. Thank you, Ed.

“Mayor Koch showed that investment in affordable housing is a key element of a successful economic development agenda. Over the past decade, we’ve created or preserved 30,000 units of affordable housing here in the South Bronx alone and more than 150,000 units across the city.

“This year, we’ll take steps to bring more affordable housing to the Lower East Side around Delancey Street to a site that has sat largely vacant for a half-century. We’ll begin building new affordable housing and retail space on Livonia Avenue in East New York, at Hunter’s Point South in Queens, at Randolph Houses in Central Harlem and across the entire NYCHA system, we will significantly reduce the backlog of repairs that has resulted from sustained Federal budget cuts. This is a key part of our strategic plan to improve services to NYCHA’s residents and preserve public housing for generations to come.

“A NYCHA community will also be the site of one of our newest waterfront reclamation projects. Using land that now lies mostly vacant, we’ll begin working to create 2,300 units of housing, a waterfront park and a supermarket next door to the Astoria Houses on the East River.

“All across the city, we’ll continue reclaiming and revitalizing our waterfront. We’ll open Rockaway Park in Queens. We’ll complete the reconstruction of McCarren Pool in Williamsburg, and the first phase of Calvert Vaux Park in Bensonhurst and we’ll transform Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park into soccer fields and open space.

“Here in the South Bronx, we’ll begin construction of Soundview Park. And out in the harbor, we’ll continue transforming the island that time passed by, with 30 new acres of parkland that will make Governors Island one of the great waterfront destinations in the world.

“And across the city, we’ll join with AT&T to bring Wi-Fi service to a dozen city parks – so even if you’re enjoying a beautiful day, you can still work or study or play ‘Words with Friends.’

“Reclaiming the waterfront and wiring our parks are just two of the ways we’re re-orienting our city around the needs of people today, not the needs of people 30 years ago."