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Comptroller visits Sunset to report on business growth and challenges

Sunset is on the rise, but there is still work to be done.

That was the message conveyed when New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli made a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, 140 58th Street, on Wednesday, September 14 to provide an economic snapshot of Sunset Park and its recent rapid growth in business and population.

“There’s no question Sunset Park is a neighborhood on the rise,” DiNapoli said. “The population has grown twice as fast as the city overall, increasing by 34 percent between 1990 and 2014 to reach 153,700 residents.”

According to the report, one quarter of the population in Sunset is under 19 years old with Hispanic and Latino residents, born here or outside the United States, making up the largest share at 40 percent of the population. Asian residents are the fastest growing sector of the population and make up one-third of the community. About half of Sunset Park’s residents are immigrants to this country.

Businesses and jobs have also seen encouraging growth. “Over the course of the years 2014 and 2015, employment in Sunset Park increased at an exceptional rate at 9.9 percent, faster than the citywide rate of 7.2 percent,” DiNapoli said. “Sunset Park’s growing population supports the dramatic increase in the business activities here. Between 2000 and 2014, a number of businesses in Sunset Park grew by 56 percent.”

DiNapoli also stated that health care centers were the neighborhood’s largest employer in 2015 with over 10,000 jobs. NYU Lutheran Medical Center is the neighborhood’s single largest employer.

“Mom and pop stores account for 15.5 percent of the jobs,” he said. “The retail sector accounted for 41 percent of jobs here since the end of the recession. So since ’08-’09, retail has been a significantly growing area of the economy here.”

Sunset Park also has the largest concentration of manufacturing jobs of any neighborhood in New York City with 4,900 such jobs making up 11 percent of all jobs in the area.

However, several obstacles exist, noted DiNapoli. “There’s a growing number of youth, and children come with an increase in demand for open space, parks and classrooms in our schools, considering that enrollment in elementary and new schools in this community has been up 55 percent since 2000,” he said.

Jobs for local residents were also a concern. “There’s great progress and development potential, and that has to be balanced with the fact that there are people who are living here who should be getting the benefit from all this investment,” said Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “We hosted a jobs event at Industry City a few months ago. and we had over 600 people looking for jobs. Of those 600, the vast majority were residents of this community.”

“Residential and commercial displacement, school crowding, truck traffic and environmental justice are ongoing issues,” added Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.

Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer, while addressing the neighborhood’s progress, also mentioned challenges. “We have waste transfer stations in this community and we have 1.5 tons of garbage dumped in this community,” Laufer noted, also citing the Gowanus Expressway as an issue for the neighborhood.

The homeless issue was also addressed. “Hotels and motels have sprung up in the area, and many of those hotels have become de facto shelters in our neighborhood,” said Laufer.

For the full economic snapshot, visit http://bit.ly/2cObQYK.

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