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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: August 2011 Archives

August 2011 Archives

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There’s no doubt that New York City is weathering this tough economy far better than the rest of the country. Since the national recession began, the U.S. has lost 5.6 percent of private-sector jobs. New York City, on the other hand, has lost only .3 percent. And since October 2009, the nation has gained back one out of every four jobs that were lost. Meanwhile, New York City has gained back all of its lost jobs – and added even more.

Our city’s resilience and recovery didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of the investments we continue to make to diversify our economy, spur innovation, and establish the conditions for long-term growth. And last week we saw two great examples of that.

Let’s start with our work to help entrepreneurs, who’ve always provided the heartbeat of our city’s economy. For many of them, the initial costs of office space and modern equipment can keep their businesses from getting off the ground. That’s why we’ve opened low-cost workspaces for entrepreneurs in growing industries like technology, fashion and media.

Earlier this month, I visited one of these “business incubators,” as we call them. It’s located in Long Island City and it focuses on startups in the culinary industry. One of the biggest challenges for many budding chefs is getting access to a fully licensed commercial kitchen. Our culinary incubator has four of them, and 120 entrepreneurs are currently taking advantage of the opportunity. Our hope for all of the entrepreneurs is that they’ll eventually open their own shops, creating jobs and injecting new energy into our economy.

Altogether, we’ve established nine different incubators across the city. Combined, they provide more than 125,000 square feet of affordable real estate to more than 500 growing businesses, and support some 800 jobs. And in another measure of their success, tenants in our incubators have received more than $39 million in venture capital funding.

Recently, we saw another example of our work to encourage job growth. We selected a developer to transform the bottom floors of the Brooklyn Municipal Building into a major retail destination. Those floors are currently occupied by the city’s Department of Finance. But as part of our ambitious effort to use the city’s real estate more efficiently, we’re relocating the Finance Department to other parts of the Municipal Building, freeing up space for new shops and a full-scale restaurant.

This move will give another shot in the arm to Downtown Brooklyn, which has experienced tremendous growth. On the back of $200 million in public infrastructure improvements, we’ve been able to attract $3.4 billion in new private investment to the Downtown area over the past five years. That translates into thousands of new jobs – and the new retail in the Brooklyn Municipal Building will create hundreds more.

Make no mistake: in this tough economy, creating jobs is our No. 1 job. Across our city we’re pursuing numerous projects that are putting thousands more New Yorkers to work, giving our economy a boost when it needs it and building our city’s future for generations to come.
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What’s been the key to New York City’s success?  The creativity and drive of our people?  Sure. Our diversity?  Definitely.  But more than anything else has been that New Yorkers have always looked to the future and worked together to build the city of tomorrow. 

Our administration has stayed true to this principle from the very beginning.  We’ve made decisions not based on whether they’ll produce headlines or votes, but on whether they’ll generate a new century of economic growth – and last week provided clear examples of this work.

The first was the launch of a new high-tech system to reduce congestion in Midtown Manhattan.  Congestion isn’t just a detriment to our quality of life.  It’s also a drain on businesses – and perhaps no part of our city is affected more by the slow crawl of traffic than Midtown.  But now, from a control center across the river in Long Island City, engineers can identify traffic jams as they occur using data from video cameras, microwave sensors, and EZ-Pass readers throughout Midtown.  The engineers can then instantaneously adjust traffic signals to help clear up choke points and get cars moving again.  That doesn’t mean the end of traffic jams; but it will make them less common.

Our efforts to diversify our economy also picked up speed last week.  We released our offer to top-tier universities to build or expand a world-class science and engineering campus here in our city.  This has the potential to be a real game changer for New York’s economy, because it will strengthen our position as a leader in the high-tech industry, which will drive the 21st century economy.

Boston and Silicon Valley have become centers of high tech largely on the basis of their research institutions, which fuel innovation and new business.  There’s no reason why more of that can’t happen here.  The field of applied sciences epitomizes the kind of new ideas and bold thinking that’s always propelled our city forward.  What’s more, we estimate that in its first 30 years, an applied science campus could spin off 400 new companies and create nearly 8,000 construction jobs and 22,000 permanent jobs – not just for PhDs, but for people of every educational level.

And as we lay the groundwork for our economic future, we also continue to make the investments that our growing city will need.  Last week, for instance, we reached an important milestone in our efforts to build or preserve more affordable housing.  Affordable housing is the anchor of strong, vibrant neighborhoods – and we are now more than three-quarters of the way to reaching our goal of financing 165,000 units across the city for half-a-million New Yorkers.  Nearly 16,000 of those units were financed within the past year, despite the tough economy – which just goes to show the strength of our commitment to this endeavor.

We simply can’t stop reaching for the future.  It’s what New Yorkers have always done.  The future of New York City lies in our willingness to be true to our past:  Always bold.  Always innovative.  And I firmly believe that if we embrace that history and keep looking forward, then the best days for our city are still to come.
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