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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: December 2011 Archives

December 2011 Archives

Investments in The Future of Our City

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English: Shopping District on 82nd Street betw...

While the holiday season is a time of celebration, it’s also a time to plan for the coming year. Even in these tough economic times, our administration continues to build for the future, keeping our commitment to further transform New York by making investments that will create thousands of jobs and pave the way for future economic growth.
Last week, after years of planning and teamwork, we took the first physical steps in transforming Willets Point, Queens, from a heavily polluted industrial zone into a vibrant commercial and residential community. The $50 million initial investment we are making there, to install critical infrastructure, will create more than 350 construction-related jobs.
But that’s only the first step. The full Willets Point redevelopment will completely re-imagine the area’s 62 acres and lead to the creation of thousands of units of mixed-income housing, more than a million square feet of retail and entertainment space, office space, open space, parks and playgrounds, the city’s first convention center outside of Manhattan, and a new public school. Taken together, this ambitious project will create more than 5,300 permanent jobs, 18,000 construction-related jobs, and have a total economic impact of $4.2 billion over the next 30 years.
The new Willets Point -- which will be next door to some of Queens’ most dynamic and popular destinations including Downtown Flushing, Citi Field, and the USTA National Tennis Center -- will become a major engine for economic growth for New York City, generating local employment and business opportunities while improving the overall quality of life for local residents.
Improving the quality of life for New Yorkers is also one of the driving principles behind our “Schoolyard to Playground” initiative. We’ve taken schoolyards across the city and opened them up after school hours, and on weekends, so the whole community can enjoy them. Over the past few years, we’ve converted 134 acres of schoolyards into playgrounds that are now open throughout the year.
Last Wednesday, we opened the 200th such playground at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. This initiative brings us closer to the goal we set in PlaNYC of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.
Whether we’re transforming parts of the city and spurring job growth or improving our quality of life by making open spaces more available; we are focused on laying the groundwork today that will make New York City stronger and more resilient for generations to come.
Safe streets, beautiful parks, clean neighborhoods, exciting cultural opportunities: These are the kinds of things that not only make New York City a great place to live and work, but also the most popular destination in the country for visitors. By every measure, our tourism industry is booming. Last year, we welcomed an all-time-high, 48.8 million visitors. This year, we’re on track to top that. By the end of the year, we will also be home to a total of 90,000 hotel rooms. That’s a record high and a 50 percent increase from a decade ago. 

What’s especially remarkable about our new hotels is that they aren’t all opening where you’d expect, in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. No, they are opening all across the city. In fact, last week, I was in Long Island City to officially cut the ribbon on the Z NYC. This 100-room hotel is the eighth hotel to open in this Queens neighborhood over the past two years. The reason is as clear and compelling as the revival that’s taking place in Long Island City: world-class museums, flourishing film and television studios, easy access to mass transit, and a burgeoning commercial district of its own that will soon be home to Jet Blue’s corporate headquarters.

But make no mistake, our growing tourism industry isn’t only a by-product of our city’s excellent quality of life, it’s also producing real benefits for the people in all five boroughs. Thousands of New Yorkers work in our hotels, part of a leisure and hospitality industry that employs more than 320,000 New Yorkers. The money that tourists spend when they come here ripples through our local economy to support hundreds of thousands of more jobs.

Jobs were also on the menu at the new Fairway market that opened last week in Douglaston, Queens. The new Fairway, a first for the borough, created more than 400 jobs for New Yorkers. That’s in addition to the nearly 500 new jobs created by the recently opened Fairway on the Upper East Side. Our Department of Small Business Services has been working with the supermarket chain to recruit and train local residents, including veterans, for many of these new jobs.

Fairway’s new locations are one more sign that businesses, big and small, have confidence in New York City’s future. They’re opening, they’re expanding, and most importantly, they’re hiring. This growth is a big part of the reason why New York City entered the national recession later and emerged from it faster than the rest of the country. It’s also a reason why we’ve been able to regain some 78 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, while the rest of the country has regained only 21 percent.

Keeping this job growth going is our top priority. Every day we wake up focused on creating more jobs, putting 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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