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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: March 2012 Archives

March 2012 Archives

New York has more than 24,000 restaurants, bakeries, delis, and other eating establishments, with menus that satisfy any taste and suit every budget. They’re a huge part of our daily lives. Hundreds of thousands of us work in them; they pump $12 billion a year into our economy; and they’re a major attraction for the 50 million-plus tourists who visit New York each year.

It’s essential not only that these businesses store, prepare, and serve food in ways that protect our health, but also that customers have a reliable way of knowing how good a job they’re doing. So in July, 2010, the City Health Department began issuing letter grades to them. Those ‘A’s,’ ‘B’s’ and ‘C’s’ displayed in restaurant windows around town tell us about the food safety and sanitation practices inside. And a new Health Department study shows four major reasons why the letter-grade system is making the grade.

First: Kitchens across the City are cleaner.  More than 72 percent of restaurants citywide were posting A’s in their windows at the end of January – up from 65 percent just 12 months earlier.  

Second: Over the past year, the number of cases of salmonella infection – the best indicator of food-borne illnesses – dropped to a 20-year low in the five boroughs.  That’s great news for everyone who lives or works in our City, or who visits us on business or on vacation.

Third: New Yorkers overwhelmingly like the grading system. A survey conducted by Baruch College found that 91 percent of us approve of the grades, 88 percent of us take grades into account when we decide where to eat, and 76 percent of us feel more confident about cleanliness in restaurants with ‘A’ grades.

And fourth: New York’s restaurant business is booming. When we started issuing letter grades, some worried that they’d drive customers away. But during the first nine months of the program – the period for which we have full figures – restaurant sales actually increased 9.3 percent citywide. That growth is three times greater than it was in the two previous years – evidence that keeping restaurant kitchens cleaner attracts customers, just as making our restaurants and bars smoke-free has, too.

The fact is that we want restaurants to succeed. That’s why, for example, over the past two years our ‘new business acceleration team’ has cut the red tape involved in getting the permits needed to open more than 600 new restaurants all over town. Getting an ‘A’ from the Health Department is also great free advertising – advertising that more and more restaurants are proudly displaying. And now a new iPhone app can help you quickly find ‘A’-graded restaurants, too. 

Business at restaurants is up; illness from food poisoning is down. And New Yorkers support the letter grading system. The proof is in the pudding – and more than ever, the pudding is being prepared according to the highest food safety standards.

Connecting More New Yorkers to Jobs

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Every day, we are working to create more jobs and build a stronger, more diverse economy for the 21st century. At the same time, we’re working to connect more New Yorkers to the jobs that exist today – and to help people gain the skills that will allow them to advance their careers. One of the ways we’re doing both is by creating new Workforce1 Career Centers, including two we opened just last week – on Staten Island’s South Shore and another in Long Island City.

When our Administration began, there were three career training and job placement centers, connecting only about 500 people a year to jobs.  Today, thanks to the work of Commissioner Rob Walsh and our Department of Small Business Services, there are 15 centers – and in 2011 our Workforce1 Career Centers helped connect 35,000 New Yorkers to jobs.

We’ll open two more centers this year. We’re also partnering directly with businesses, providing more one-on-one counseling to job-seekers, training our workforce for the industries that are growing, and matching employers to the workers they need – all of which helps put more New Yorkers to work.

What’s more, we’re opening many of our centers in communities where the need for job training and support is greatest. For instance, our new Workforce1 Center in Long Island City is next door to NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses. We’ve also opened two centers to connect workers to careers in the health care, industrial and transportation industries. Several of our larger Workforce1 Centers are great at connecting New Yorkers to entry-level jobs, while our smaller centers, including the three that we have opened in public libraries, are focused on connecting employees to mid-level jobs.

Last Tuesday, I visited the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza to see one of these centers firsthand. Libraries have always served as gateways of opportunity. They’re also the place where people go to get information, use computers, and network – all of which makes them great places to look for a job. That’s why we’ve also opened centers in the Sunset Park Library, as well as the Flushing Library in Queens. And this spring, we’ll launch another new center at the Francis S. Martin branch in University Heights in the Bronx.

To maximize the value of these centers for the New Yorkers who need them, we’re helping train librarians in the latest job search strategies and labor market trends so they can better serve visitors seeking employment.

We’re working every day to help more New Yorkers get back to work.  Because creating and connecting New Yorkers to jobs is our number one job.

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