By Mike Bloomberg
And speaking of developing mixed-use zones, for too long, Government has seen its role as a regulator rather than an innovator
Government's role going forward must be citywide planning and development. While, some projects will qualify for federal and state aid and others will need City and private sector funding, none should be planned in a vacuum. And just because we can't afford it now doesn't mean we should forget about it.
Prime candidates for new development include: "The Hub" in The Bronx; Red Hook and downtown Brooklyn; Harlem; Governors Island; The World Trade Center; the Javits Convention Center; former Con Ed Waterside Steam Plant sites in Manhattan; Long Island City and Jamaica in Queens; the Home Port and Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The 2012 Olympic proposal for transportation and waterfront access in all five boroughs also offers tremendous opportunities to help secure a vibrant economic future.
Traditionally, economic development has been undertaken without a strong planning basis. The two roles have been separated in government. They shouldn't be. Now, with the loss of 25,000,000 square feet of office space and 6,000 of our most competent workers, a comprehensive, coordinated approach is needed more than ever.
We must combine and coordinate the efforts of the Department of City Planning and the Economic Development Corporation.
Economic development needs are different in each borough. For example, The Bronx needs commercial activity that creates jobs and gets suburbanites to come into the City to shop - vs. our citizens going to shop in the suburbs. We should build large-scale shopping malls with big stores.
Emerging industries, such as the biotechnology research industry, should be encouraged to grow near our great hospitals and medical schools. And zoning should be amended to facilitate this development.
We must overhaul our land-use regulations. Many so-called zoning uses don't reflect reality. Several categories of manufacturing uses are really commercial in nature and can co-exist alongside residential space.
And our Zoning and economic development decisions must be re-evaluated on a regular basis. This review must be institutionalized, make use of benchmarks and have both qualitative and quantitative indicators. Government must know if these decisions have resulted in success or not.
We must upgrade our building codes. It costs 50% less to build schools in other major U.S. cities. Modern technologies need to be approved if we are to afford the construction we need. One massive upgrade by a "Blue Ribbon" panel of experts can get this done without the "special interest" obstacles that have impeded revision in the past.
The destruction of the World Trade Center has had far-reaching effects that are not limited to the financial services industry or to lower Manhattan. We must address concerns throughout all sectors of the economy.
While we can't force (and have had difficulty in enticing) the private sector to move to non-Manhattan locations, the City, State and Federal governments can relocate some of their offices to other parts of the five boroughs to make way for the private sector in lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.
Those relocated government agencies would serve as civic anchors that help spur the economy of their surrounding communities. Shopkeepers, business support services, coffee cart operators, backroom financial service operations, as well as cultural facilities, would all be positively affected by such relocations.
Some 83% of government jobs are located in Manhattan while only 4% are in the Bronx and slightly more than 5% in Queens. The Departments of Transportation, Sanitation and Housing Preservation and Development are just three of the agencies that could be moved out of lower Manhattan.
The Mayor has already made 430,000 square feet available at 180 Water Street for private use.
Train the Workforce
After addressing our public-sector budget and promoting private-sector economic development, we need to focus on our workforce. First and foremost is education, and I welcome all of you to review my education plan that you can access on the campaign website. But today, I want to speak specifically about training.
The biggest challenge facing employers across the country is finding available, skilled and talented workers. New York City has a highly qualified, well-educated workforce.
But in many trades where the existing labor force is inching towards retirement, there is a shortage of skilled labor and there are not enough apprentices in the pipeline to replace them.
We need to encourage companies and unions working on Trade Center site to hire New York City residents. We need the jobs for New Yorkers. While implementation of this objective may be problematic, we should do it to ensure the development of new, skilled labor.
And graduating high school students should be participating in union offered training programs. The Emergency Employment Clearinghouse Program for building service workers offers an excellent model for other sectors by combining job placement and worker training.
The attractiveness of skilled labor jobs must be conveyed to our youth before they drop out.
More collaboration between the Board of Education and unions should be facilitated to intervene with students early in their high school years to remedy this student/job disconnect.
"Vocational education" is not a "dirty word." Skilled labor jobs will be critical as our infrastructure is being re-built, expanded and secured. While the national economy seems to be focused on the high-tech, there is still a need for electricians and plumbers, carpenters and crane operators.
These are high-paying jobs sometimes approaching six-figure incomes. We should give our high school students a reasonable shot at these jobs if they want them.
And speaking of high-tech, these industries should be partnering with The Board of Education, CUNY and other institutions of higher learning to determine the best course of training to provide needed, skilled workers in the future.
Another very important part of our economy for creating jobs is tourism - which generates $25 billion in revenue to the City.
Our cultural institutions and theatres are among the major attractions that make New York City the number one tourist destination worldwide.
Some 11.67 million people paid $588 million during the 98/99 Broadway season and another 8.5 million people attended off- and off-off Broadway productions. Our vast array of museums, performing arts centers, galleries and athletic events are also significant tourist destinations.
After September 11th, we must do more to encourage visitors to come to New York.
Clearly, we need to assure the continued health and well being of our cultural institutions, especially at this time when the tourism industry is facing the impact of terrorism fears and a faltering economy.
Promotion is needed for our leading industries and tourism.
We spend only $1.48 per capita on our tourism budget while Las Vegas spends $267.15 per capita. Our advertising budget is only $1.7 million compared to the $20.8 million spent by Las Vegas. Such marketing should be expanded to promote the advantages of relocating to the City, not just visiting it!
Sports are also good for the economy and the morale of the City -- just look at what the Mets and the Yankees have meant to the City over the last month.
We should also lobby the NFL to have the Super Bowl here in 2003. And while we're at it -- Major League Baseball, the National Baseball Association, the National Hockey League to hold their All Star games here as well and the NCAA to hold the Final Four in Men and Women's Basketball in New York.
Quality of Life
The fact is that our cultural institutions and sports teams not only help with tourism, but also add immeasurably to our quality of life. And at the end of the day, beyond rebuilding our infrastructure, balancing our budget and spurring economic growth, there is nothing as important as our quality of life.
People don't live in New York because of all the corporations. All the corporations are in New York because this is where people want to live. And that makes our quality of life our single greatest tool for economic development.
People want affordable housing, good schools for their children, world-class health care, beautiful parks and all of our unparalleled cultural opportunities. And of course, most of all people want to be safe, and we must commit to keeping New York the world's safest big city.
I have released plans addressing all of these issues, and they are just, or more important now, than before September 11th. I'm not going into all of these now, but as I said earlier, I encourage all of you to review them on my campaign website.
The one area I do want to get into with a little more depth is public safety. One of the very worst things to come out of September 11th is the damage it did to our City's reputation, as being exceptionally safe.
It took Mayor Giuliani years of unprecedented crime reductions and pounding away on the issue to convince the nation and the world that New York really is a safe City. And so much of that was undone in one morning.
We have to ensure that we are truly safe. And in the wake of September 11th and what has happened since, I think there are some concrete steps that should be taken.
1. Public Safety: Securing Our City
After the World Trade Center disaster, the Mayor and Governor took the lead in strengthening security in our City, at our airports, train stations and on our major arteries. We need to make sure we are prepared for any event.
Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies can only redouble their efforts to prevent a recurrence - and then even they don't know what the future will bring.
In the coming weeks and months, we must decide what level of increased security we are willing to pay for, and how much inconvenience in our daily lives we will tolerate.
That balance is one we should not set arbitrarily - or without listening carefully to those responsible for our protection.
Our civilization and our lives may depend on us getting it right. Safeguarding our security will require new thinking -- and new vigilance. Not only must we have safe streets. We must also have safe trains and buses, skies and waterways, water supply and power and communications systems.
The presence of police officers on the streets is more important now than ever. Therefore, we must beef up the NYPD and give it the tools and technology necessary to protect our City from these new threats.
The strength of the Police Department and the Fire Departments must be restored.
The presence of police officers on the streets is more important now than ever. Therefore, we must do everything possible to recruit the best men and women to beef up the NYPD. And we must do everything possible to get our most experienced officers to stay on the force.
As the Police Department is our first line of defense in fighting crime, the Fire Department is the first line of defense in civil emergencies. But in the wake of this catastrophe that line has been severely wounded.
We will restore the Fire Department and rebuild its ranks.
The title "New York's Bravest" was borne out of a long, proud history. To those who survived and to those we seek to recruit, we must ensure the losses suffered by the department do not affect the integrity of that important tradition.
All fire trucks should be equipped with computers that give firefighters the evacuation plans and blueprints of buildings while en route to burning buildings.
Just as the federal government came to our aid in fighting the war on crime by providing the resources to hire more cops, we now need its assistance in the new war on terrorism.
The federal government must assist us in protecting our bridges, digital network and communication systems, energy resources, watershed and public transportation by paying for security personnel and high-tech terrorism fighting hardware.
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which has performed admirably during this disaster, should become a permanent agency. When voters go to the polls in November, they should vote in favor of the Charter Revision question to make this so.
A new Emergency Operations and Command Center should be constructed as well as a back-up facility.
An added security measure should be the wiring of subway tunnels for cellular phone service. Until recently, the MTA understandably declined to do so. Some of the conversations and the volume at which they are held can be irritating. But cell phone calls from the hijacked airplanes and the smoke-filled towers were invaluable in conveying pleas for help - and messages of love.
In the event of a subway disaster, passengers must be able to communicate with the world above, to aid in their own rescue. We can restrict cell phone use to emergency use only. But those phones must be able to operate underground.
To ensure that our City has a future that is brighter than its past... that we emerge from September 11th stronger, more unified, and better prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century... we must focus on three interrelated and equally important priorities.
By Building for the Future, Creating Jobs and improving our Quality of Life, we can and we will create a New York for all New Yorkers... a New York of prosperity and hope. We will make the world's most diverse, most compassionate, most exciting and most visited City even greater.