GUEST OP-ED – Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Growing our city’s economy

There’s no doubt that New York City is weathering this tougheconomy far better than the rest of the country. Since the nationalrecession began, the U.S. has lost 5.6 percent of private sectorjobs. New York City, on the other hand, has lost only .3percent.

And since October 2009, the nation has gained back one out ofevery four jobs that were lost. Meanwhile, New York City has gainedback all of its lost jobs – and added even more.

Our city’s resilience and recovery didn’t happen by accident. Ithappened because of the investments we continue to make todiversify our economy, spur innovation, and establish theconditions for long-term growth.

Let’s start with our work to help entrepreneurs, who’ve alwaysprovided the heartbeat of our city’s economy. For many of them, theinitial costs of office space and modern equipment can keep theirbusinesses from getting off the ground. That’s why we’ve openedlow-cost workspaces for entrepreneurs in growing industries liketechnology, fashion and media.

Last month, I visited one of these ‘business incubators,’ as wecall them. It’s located in Long Island City and it focuses onstartups in the culinary industry.

One of the biggest challenges for many budding chefs is gettingaccess to a fully-licensed commercial kitchen. Our culinaryincubator has four of them, and 120 entrepreneurs are currentlytaking advantage of the opportunity. Our hope for all of theentrepreneurs 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 acrossthe city. Combined, they provide more than 125,000 square feet ofaffordable real estate to more than 500 growing businesses, andsupport some 800 jobs. And in another measure of their success,tenants in our incubators have received more than $39 million inventure capital funding.

Recently, we saw another example of our work to encourage jobgrowth. We selected a developer to transform the bottom floors ofthe Brooklyn Municipal Building into a major retaildestination.

Those floors are currently occupied by the city’s Department ofFinance. But as part of our ambitious effort to use the city’s realestate more efficiently, we’re relocating the Finance Department toother parts of the Municipal Building, freeing up space for newshops and a full-scale restaurant.

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

Make no mistake: In this tough economy, creating jobs is ournumber one job. Across our city we’re pursuing numerous projectsthat are putting thousands more New Yorkers to work, giving oureconomy a boost when it needs it and building our city’s future forgenerations to come.

Michael Bloomberg is mayor of New York City.

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