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Democratic Mayoral Candidates Offer Plans for Jobs and Economic Growth


city resource fair

A city resource fair (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


According to the Mayor’s Office, the city experienced a growth of 100,000 jobs from December 2020 to March 2021, and expects to gain 400,000 more to reach a total of 4.5 million jobs by the end of 2021. Even as economic indicators have been headed in the right direction in recent months -- including significant job growth -- amid public vaccination, some easing of restrictions, and a massive infusion of federal dollars, New York City’s economy remains devastated, particularly certain industries and sectors reliant on tourism, commuting, and recreation. If those positive projections hold, the city will still be hundreds of thousands of jobs below its pre-pandemic heights, when unemployment was near historic lows at around 4% and the local economy was, generally speaking, humming.

Not only does the job loss impact individuals and families, but also the city’s tax revenue. While the city’s budget has been plugged by the federal government, long-term deficits remain, as do questions about the city’s economic health, including the availability of jobs for New Yorkers who need and want them. Just as pre-pandemic, there are also questions about the quality of the jobs that do exist or may become available, and about whether enough New Yorkers are qualified for many of the jobs that are on offer.

The recovery from the pandemic is of course beginning to unfold at the same time as a race to become the next Mayor of New York City, with a crucial primary set for June and the Democratic winner all but certain to take office on January 1 given the party’s overwhelming voter enrollment advantage.

To varying degrees, the eight leading Democratic candidates for Mayor have been talking about economic revitalization, the future of the city’s economy, how to reopen and rebuild more equitably, and much more related to jobs in New York City. Only some of the candidates have released detailed jobs plans, though there are elements of job-spurring efforts within parts of some candidates’ plans on other themes, such as climate resiliency or education.

The candidates include some with significant private sector experience and some with a lot of public sector experience: former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, former federal and city housing chief Shaun Donovan, former social services nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

McGuire, running on his big business background, is the candidate who has been most focused on jobs and the city economy, but he’s been joined in the discussion by candidates like Morales, Yang, Stringer, Wiley, and Donovan, each of whom has also released a version of a jobs plan, some with much more detail than others. Meanwhile, Garcia and Adams have released other types of plans that emphasize job creation and economic growth. And, through interviews and forums, the candidates have given insights into their overall approach to big business, small business, job growth, and the city’s overall economic health and revival, with varied perspectives evident.

Job Creation Plans
To differing degrees, the Democratic mayoral candidates are talking about how they would work with big corporations to expand in the city (and how they would have approached the failed Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal or Industry City’s proposed expansion), spur revival and growth among small business, arts and culture, and nightlife, decrease or expand the city government workforce, and support the nonprofit sector — all areas with many jobs.

But some candidates also have specific job-creation plans in terms of utilizing city policy, funding, and other efforts.

Wiley’s “New Deal New York” is being pitched as a localized New Deal Works Progress Administration for the 21st century, using city capital to hire those out of work on large infrastructure projects, but placing racial justice squarely into the center of the program.

Citing that the city needs to perform over $200 billion in infrastructure work for a state of good repair, her plan proposes to use $10 billion in city capital funds to create 100,000 new jobs in a five-year public works program. She says 30,000 of these new jobs would be project-based jobs for construction workers, artists, and others, while another 70,000 would be indirect jobs for health-care workers and child-care workers. The program would be financed in part by new city debt, as capital construction typically is, as well as unspent funds previously allocated in the city’s capital budget.

McGuire’s jobs plan provides a stark if expected contrast with his focus on private industry, though it also includes major city investment in infrastructure. McGuire and Donovan have the same big job-creation goal, but different timelines. From his launch video throughout the campaign, McGuire promised to spur the creation of 500,000 jobs in two years, while Donovan has said his commitment to the same number of jobs would be fulfilled by the end of a first four-year term. According to the Citizens Budget Commission, COVID-19 caused the loss of 833,000 jobs in two quarters, and the city has only regained 37% of those jobs by March 2021. This leaves around 500,000 jobs up in the air, a gap both McGuire and Donovan seek to fill.

McGuire’s economic recovery plan, aptly named “The Comeback Plan,” is presented as an aggressive effort to bring back jobs by focusing on small businesses through various strategies. He’s pledging about half his jobs goal at small businesses, and among those 250,000 jobs, 50,000 would be supported by his “job accelerator.”

Under that program, small businesses most hurt by the pandemic would be able to have 50% of their payroll covered by the government for one year. Instead of having the government hiring or contracting for workers, small businesses would be subsidized to bring back and hire new employees.

McGuire says he will use his connections in the business world to create partnerships for some of his programs, and he will invest in infrastructure including broadband, in part through public-private partnerships.

In addition, McGuire would guarantee summer jobs to all high school students by expanding the existing Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) -- he would, in part, “leverage his relationships with both big and small NYC employers.”

Stringer has also committed to providing a summer jobs guarantee through SYEP.

Donovan would create an NYC Job Corps, which would “address a misalignment among job seekers’ experiences, the skills that training and education providers teach, and the needs and requirements of employers.” His plan does not mention how many people it would include. A Donovan administration would partner with “the public, private, philanthropic, and academic” sectors to provide jobs and training for participants. Donovan’s plan points to relying on intergovernmental aid and “the full scope of the City’s capital budget.”

Morales’ job creation ideas are largely reflected in her “Green Jobs, Green Food, Green Justice” plan. As mayor, she would create a job corps “similar to the Works Progress Administration” that would focus on “green spaces, ecodistricts, public works, art and public beautification.”

Morales would also create a “workforce pipeline” into urban gardening, sustainability, and renewable energy, and create a jobs training program “to foster collaboration between youth and local nonprofits, unions and businesses for public resiliency projects,” her plan says. Through the use of an executive order, Morales would ban the use of criminal records to determine eligibility for municipally-supported “jobs programs, educational training, licensing and housing.” No costs or funding sources are mentioned.

Reflecting his background as an entrepreneur, Yang would create “the biggest startup incubator the country has ever seen” with $100 million of capital investment —  raised from private sources — in order to create “high quality jobs that contribute to the city’s tax base,” according to his website. Yang has shown a belief in public-private partnerships and relying on the private sector. “We don’t think that government has all the answers,” Yang said in April. “We think that the private sector is going to be key to the city’s recovery.”

Yang would create a Big Apple Corps, which would set 10,000 tutors from AmeriCorps in New York City to help students in math and English. This program, “coordinated by the City, powered by AmeriCorps and supported by business & philanthropy,” would be mostly funded from an AmeriCorps expansion at the federal level, Yang says on his website. In addition, Yang would step up the city’s youth job programs: he would significantly expand the city’s SYEP over four years to eventually serve 175,000 participants (it currently serves around 75,000 city youth). In addition, Yang has committed to expanding the year-around Work, Learn, Grow program, which provides 5,000 New York City youth with entry-level jobs in the public, non-profit and private sectors, to 25,000 over the course of four years.

Stringer’s job creation plans rest on the creation of 100,000 “good-paying” jobs as a part of a municipal Green New Deal featuring resiliency projects, retrofits of already existing buildings, such as placing solar panels on rooftops, and other expansions of green infrastructure. It is not completely clear where funding would come from, though the city has billions in capital funding and there are clear hopes of resources from the federal and state levels.

Garcia’s plan on the economy is light on details about job creation, but she mentions guaranteeing “graduates of our trade schools a path to City employment, working with the private sector to offer 10,000 paid internships to high school students, and subsidizing wages for youth who face barriers to employment.”

McGuire, Adams, Yang, and Garcia -- the more moderate candidates in the field -- appear to be most focused on creating a welcoming climate for big business growth in the city, with tactics less city economic policy and more overall approach to welcoming businesses, communicating with industry leaders, and positions like opposition to higher taxes and defunding the police. They are also the candidates who have, for example, been most vocal about what they say was a major missed opportunity in the city losing out on the Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal.

Infrastructure
Well-established as a job-creator and economic stimulus, infrastructure projects are popular among the mayoral candidates.

A Donovan administration would target infrastructure at expanding transit in transit deserts, affordable housing, and projects to “be ready to meet the changing climate.” He would provide more parks, light-colored and reflective roofs, bicycle infrastructure, and street trees, as well as expand the city’s CoolRoofs program.

McGuire has promised “the biggest infrastructure plan in generations.” A part of his overall comeback plan, McGuire’s infrastructure platforms focuses on repairing bridges and water main breaks, affordable housing, climate change adaptation, upgrading or building primary and urgent care facilities in neighborhoods hard-hit by COVID-19, and transit projects such as a smart grid and bus lanes.

Adams’ eye on infrastructure would see the city upgrading its electrical grid and transitioning from natural gas to wind energy. In addition, an Adams administration would conduct "a citywide audit of City infrastructure and properties for disability access and then create a plan to address the results." Adams would expand the role of franchises to "handle capital projects in our parks," saying that conservancies can execute work "faster and cheaper" than the city. 

Garcia’s infrastructure plans have a focus on ameliorating bureaucracy and logjam, with commitments to complete renovation projects faster, with 95% of community infrastructure projects completed in four years or less. Her administration would introduce a CapitalStat program modeled off the NYPD’s CompStat, to “get stalled capital projects back on track.” Under her climate plan, Garcia pledges to “expand green infrastructure citywide” with broad commitments to “maximize offshore wind generation and distributed solar power,” “Create a new “natural roofs” program that combines green roofs with solar panels on City buildings” and “work with state authorities and utility companies to build new transmission lines to bring in renewable energy from Canada and upstate New York and integrated battery storage to reduce reliance on peaker plants.”

Garcia’s plan also offers specifics within for infrastructure projects like goals to triple the availability of public car chargers, add 250 miles of protected bike lanes, renovate 100 parks, replace 100 blacktop schoolyards with “brand-new green space,” and plant 1 million trees over eight years in areas with high asthma rates. 

Stringer’s infrastructure plans would “retrofit schools into hubs of sustainability,” the installation of fully protected bus lanes for all high-ridership bus lines, and the protection of all 520 miles of coastline from climate change and rising seas by implementing a five-borough resiliency plan, among other things. He would launch RebuildNYC, a major public works program focused on “state-of-good-repair projects, to rebuild and green the City’s crumbling infrastructure.” He would also look to accelerate the city’s “lagging” capital program, “where every $1 billion spent creates more than 5,000 jobs.”

The mayoral candidates’ infrastructure plans require funding, of course, which is at times simply done through typical city debt issuance and regular debt service payments. But there are also other sources. Donovan, McGuire and Yang have pledged to use their federal connections to attract money from the Biden administration, while Wiley plans to divert money from the police department for her New Deal New York plan. Donovan has largely staked his name to his eight years in the Obama-Biden administration, where he served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2014, then as budget director.

While McGuire’s entire career has taken place in the private sector, Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior advisor to Obama, co-chairs his mayoral campaign, and McGuire’s name was floated in 2013 by the Obama administration for the position of deputy Treasury secretary. He has also touted a relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris, among others, and using his vast array of connections fostered during his career with Citigroup to leverage public-private partnerships while relying on his investment and management skills to get more bang for the buck.

Adams does not estimate how much money his infrastructure investments would require or any funding sources, but says his infrastructure plan would “create thousands of jobs,” particularly for “those in low-income communities facing environmental injustice.” Garcia and Morales do not include any sources of funding for their infrastructure commitments, though they appear to be factoring in the city’s typical capital spending, which is around $10 billion per year. Stringer, particularly for his climate infrastructure plans, would push for state and federal funding.

Small Businesses
While McGuire has struggled for recognition among candidates more familiar in the public eye, he stands out in presenting specifics of his plans to help small businesses, particularly the aforementioned signature program whereby the city would fund 50% of wages for workers at small businesses for one year.

Additionally, McGuire would seek to allow small businesses to hold the city portion of their sales tax for one year and to allow city permits and licenses to renew for a year with no fees. He has also committed to providing rent relief to small businesses, as well as relief on their utility bills and a “Comeback Bank Initiative,” which would provide capital to small businesses through community banks.

In the name of small business success and job creation, McGuire has a number of other pieces to his plan, including launching a one-stop portal to facilitate application and inspection processes and making more violations “curable,” which means that fines for a violation would be waived if the issue was corrected in a certain limited time frame, and still more.

Garcia has been the candidate most focused on streamlining processes for small businesses and their owners, particularly creating a single application and reducing bureaucracy.

Several mayoral candidates, including Yang, Donovan, McGuire, and Wiley, have committed to increasing the procurement of goods and services from local minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). Yang has the most explicit promise, saying that he would double procurement awards for MWBEs by 2025, while Wiley made the bolder but less specific commitment to “prioritize procurement for all projects from local MWBE businesses.”

While Adams puts forth no specific goals for procurements from MWBEs, he says that his administration would match them with “prime contractors and other agencies” through the use of a Preferred M/WBE questionnaire that would help determine “which companies are qualified to participate in bids.” Adams, whose commitment to data-driven analysis runs throughout his entire platform, would create a tool to track “the share of M/WBE contracts and how much the City is spending on those companies versus others in real-time.”

Donovan says that he would “reinvent small business regulation—from fines to licensure—and rationalize regulations with an eye to utility, equity, public benefit, clarity, and the costs imposed on businesses,” and cease to use business fines as a source of city revenue. Also like McGuire, Donovan has pushed for a “customer-oriented approach” for small businesses, and to facilitate business licensing and regulation through updating the city’s web approach.

Wiley’s “Save Our Small Businesses” plan seeks to use federal stimulus funds to help small businesses recover, with a particular focus on equity. Like most other candidates are saying, Wiley would seek to eliminate the bureaucratic hurdles small businesses face, writing that small businesses need the “red tape wrapped around their necks to be cut so they have room to breathe,” but providing limited details.

To provide relief to small businesses that have faced lost revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wiley would institute a $100 million “regulatory holiday.” Wiley would give breaks to small businesses on the fines and fees they regularly pay to the city for one year. She would waive renewal fees, fines, the municipal liquor license and defer or offer credit towards water and sewer bills for one year. In addition, she would implement a $30 million emergency grant program for small businesses, which would “target resources strategically to achieve equity goals.” The funding for this program would be drawn from the stimulus money provided to New York City by federal government.

A Wiley administration would also “tackle the racial wealth gap” by investing $7 million in growing worker co-operatives, preserving at-risk small businesses with Local Economy Preservation Funds (LEPF), and providing “seed democratic funds in communities.” LEPFs are a Depression-era tool that would allow the city to purchase struggling businesses during a recession in public holding companies, but return them to private ownership as the economy recovers. Citing the Ujima Fund in Boston, Wiley would create a municipally-run investment vehicle that would allow community members to decide where funds should go to local small businesses and infrastructure projects.

Differentiating herself from several others, Wiley highlights street vendors in her small businesses plan. In order to “acknowledge street vendor’s as New York’s smallest businesses,” Wiley would support the Street Vendor Project’s Small Business Consultation Program, expand the number of Green Cart Vendors, and take other steps.

McGuire would appoint a deputy mayor to act as a point person for small, women- and minority businesses. Similarly, a Yang administration would appoint a small business czar “so that there is a single responsible party and point of contact for small business owners to help them in their recovery efforts, while Wiley would appoint a Chief Small Business Officer (CSBO) in the Mayor’s Office. It’s not completely clear why these positions would be needed when there has typically been a Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development with oversight of the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.

Adams also focused on slashing unnecessary red tape and simplifying the interactions of small businesses with the city. He would create an online portal for small businesses to use, and institute a “warning system for relatively minor violations so first-time offenders are educated instead of fined.” The warning system would have three levels to indicate how much time the owner has until the violation must be cured.

Many of Adams’ plans to assist small businesses concern the collection and distribution of tax revenue. Adams would institute “Tax-Free Tuesdays” for goods and services “likely to be paid for in-person” to help New York City small business owners compete with major companies such as Amazon. An Adams administration would allow businesses that pay the Commercial Rent Tax a break for two years, suspend property tax debt interest for two years to help hotel owners, and create a new tax program for urban farmers.

Garcia, who put forth a small business plan early in her campaign, has promoted a single small business permit that can be applied for via smartphone for any business with under 100 employees, a plan Yang endorsed at a joint press conference and pledged to implement if he is victorious. Any business that applies through the single permit process would receive a reply within one month of submitting their application. In addition, Garcia would provide all local businesses a full year of fine and fee relief, and she would launch CrowdsourceNYC, a program that would provide zero interest microloans to small businesses with up to 20 employees, beginning with “anchor investments from the City’s pension fund and support from the private sector.”

Morales’ small business platform is focused on diversity and equity issues more so than bureaucracy or tax and fine relief. Her plan would support efforts to create “community ownership models, worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership.” Her administration would facilitate conversions from conventional business plans by “increasing funding from FY 2020’s $3.6 million to $10 million with projections for increases every year.” Morales would work to lift the cap on street vendor permits and expand “the initial small business economic recovery and support by 30%.” And she would pursue a vacancy tax on landlords who leave storefronts vacant for lengthy periods of time and pursue creation of a small and cooperative business registry.

CUNY and Workforce Training Opportunities
A Donovan administration would create a “CUNY Center for the Future of Work,” a digital space to connect CUNY students and faculty to employers for micro-internships, capstone projects, and applied learning prospects. He would also create a “Workforce Innovation Lab” to allow participants to remotely gain training in high-growth sectors such as health care, IT, and sustainability.

Garcia, Wiley, Stringer, and Donovan seek to work with the CUNY system for job training and placement, with Wiley naming the Grove School of Engineering as one with which she’d like to partner.

Donovan has pledged that he would “create the largest comprehensive skills-based training program in the US,” with 10,000 apprenticeship placements by 2025. Moreover, he has committed to guarantee at least one “meaningful” career opportunity for all CUNY and Department of Education high school students, meaning that the city would guarantee at least one paid job, apprenticeship, or internship opportunity for them.

McGuire shies away from a direct CUNY job pipeline, but promises to make CUNY the top supplier of tech talent to companies. He hones in on New Yorkers who are rejected from the city’s current workforce programs due to educational gaps, committing $100 million a year to provide 15,000 seats in programs that pair education with job training.

Wiley would seek to centralize all of the city’s workforce training programs by placing them under the authority of her New Deal Czar. This appointee would distribute funding to these programs, including from philanthropic donations and federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act dollars Wiley expects from the Biden administration. 

Garcia has said she would bring economic development and workforce development under the same deputy mayor, and promotes providing job training for fields expected to grow such as the wind power, life sciences, and film and television industries. At a forum, Garcia, Donovan and Adams all committed to giving 10% of funding for economic development projects for local workforce development and hiring. 

Stringer would seek to create a “world-class workforce development program” at CUNY. He would establish a universal, paid internship program for CUNY students, and would work with private partners to provide training programs. He would also expand career and technical education schools, which he calls “a key cog in preparing students for the workforce.” 

Childcare
Wiley, Stringer, and Garcia stand out for their focus on child care. Wiley released an ambitious “Universal Community Care” plan that would compensate informal caregivers with money diverted from the NYPD and Department of Correction, build neighborhood community centers, and create stronger worker protections for caregivers. “Investment in care work should be recognized as not only a viable economic development strategy, but crucial to our city’s recovery,” her website states. Wiley’s care plan is explicitly tied to her New Deal-style strategy, and meant to help the city recover from COVID-19 while building a new economy that recognizes the importance of women of color.

Stringer would “dramatically increase” child care assistance to working families with children under 3 and expand eligibility requirements to serve families making up to $100,000 per year. He would invest $500 million over five years to address child care deserts by renovating child care facilities and opening new ones, and would triple the number of infants and toddlers in City-backed care.

McGuire, the child of a single mother as he often states on the campaign trail, promises to provide access to affordable childcare and early education for New York City families. As a part of his Affordable Childcare for All Initiative, a McGuire administration would “guarantee every parent access to quality early childcare.” The initiative would include increased funds to strengthen current childcare programs, as well as create a grant program to build childcare centers in areas without them.

The Donovan economic recovery plan contains no mention of childcare, but he gets at it somewhat in his education plan. He recognizes COVID-19 has been particularly hard related to childcare and is among those who cite the fact that many women have dropped out of the workfroce amid the pandemic and its demands on families, including via remote schooling. Donovan identifies it as “a national problem which will take action from the federal government and states.” Donovan does say he would have the city do more about providing childcare by strengthening coordination among departments and community-based organizations to provide better and more tailored care for families, better racially-integrating childcare programs, and investing in the childcare workforce through tuition assistance or a career ladder.

Garcia pledges to offer free childcare for families making less than $70,000 annually for children up to 3. And Adams also commits to providing “childcare for every parent who cannot afford it, starting at birth.” Morales pledges “free, universal and culturally-responsive childcare.”

Arts and Culture Work
All of the candidates have committed to supporting the city’s arts sector, which has been extremely hard hit by COVID-19. According to the Citizens Budget Commission, the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes workers in the arts, lost over 280,000 jobs in 2020.

As part of her New Deal New York plan, Wiley has promised $1 billion in new and accelerated spending on the arts over the course of five years. She would hire artists and performers and provide them with performance and studio spaces, in another harkening of the 1930s Works Progress Administration.

Donovan has committed to “sustained investment in arts and culture,” but has emphasized working with philanthropic institutions to provide necessary. He has mentioned working with artists for city information campaigns and incorporating the arts sector to his job training program. In addition, Donovan would make unoccupied commercial spaces like empty storefronts available to visual and performing artists, using an online reservation app and providing subsidies and grants available for arts organizations looking to use those spaces if needed.

McGuire’s largest announced commitment to the arts is his idea for a Comeback Festival, which he says would be the biggest festival in city history. The Comeback Festival would be a yearlong event, kicking off in the spring of 2022, and include, among other things, many performances and art shows. McGuire would raise private funds to hire artists to create projects in vacant commercial spaces and outdoor venues, he says.

On a similar note, Wiley would support a “Grand Reopening” festival for NYC, occurring in September 2021. Because she would not be mayor by this point, Wiley’s website says she would push the de Blasio administration to host a week-long celebration incorporating elements of “San Genaro, Mardi Gras, and the World’s Fair” throughout all five boroughs. The Grand Reopening would include items such as art exhibitions, performances and food offerings. Wiley would want the MTA to be free that week, as well as the use of union labor to “the maximum extent possible.”

Yang has put forth a plan targeting the arts and culture industry — “Support for NYC’s Nightlife and Cultural Sector” — but much if it involves calling on the state to provide additional funding to live music venues, comedy clubs, and nightlife establishments through leftover CARES Act federal funding as well as working with the State Liquor Authority to streamline liquor licenses.

In addition, Yang would further invest in the Public Arts in Residence (PAIR) Program, where the city “embeds” artists into city government to “propose and implement creative solutions to pressing civic challenges.” To further support the local music industry, Yang proposes a census to determine the number of musicians and those in the music business in the city. His administration would create a  “comprehensive picture with the data, including policy recommendations to support musicians’ recovery.”

On a similar note to McGuire, Yang would host “outdoor celebrations in each borough” following the end of COVID-19 restrictions (though this appears on the verge of happening well before the next mayor takes office). Yang’s planned celebrations would be “ten times bigger” than the 2019 ticker tape parade for the US Women’s National Team World Cup victory, which drew 300,000 people.

Yang would also purchase “hundreds of thousands'' of Broadway tickets after negotiating prices with shows to help spur the industry. Funding would come from the Mayor’s Fund and Yang would seek commitments from private sector entities such as J.P. Morgan, Deloitte, PricewaterCooper and Ernst & Young. While some of the tickets would be kept by private entities who bought them, the other tickets would be distributed to non-profit organizations, particularly those that support first responders and essential workers.

Similarly, a Stringer administration would purchase 250,000 tickets at “cultural venues throughout the five boroughs” to distribute to frontline workers, students, and families. Stringer would also support the arts sector by creating more tax-advantaged cultural districts and expand internships and apprenticeships for creative sector careers as a part of his workforce development plans.

Industry Growth
Donovan’s economic plan highlights pursuing innovation, with particular interest in developing the life sciences and climate adaptation economic sectors. With a mission of “capturing a growing wave of investment and job creation,” a Donovan administration would make large-scale investments in order to build more lab space, “align private investments with regulatory actions,” and create employment centers outside of Manhattan’s Central Business District. Donovan would work in particular with residents in the Bronx and Harlem to “shape a vision” for a “dual uptown life-sciences hub” to provide job training and employment opportunities for residents.

In addition, Donovan says he would bring life sciences talent to the city by creating a fully endowed research center in Upper Manhattan, as well as create a “Grad-School-to-Enterprise” training pathway for life sciences PhD students to sway them to work the private sector rather than at a university research center. To facilitate the growth of the life sciences sector, Donovan would make it easier to build lab spaces by updating zoning and building requirements, and would work to establish a clearer and quicker path to run clinical trials in the city. Building on his ideas for workforce training programs, he would develop lab technician apprenticeship programs.

Adams has promised to make New York City “the life sciences capital of the world,” and like Donovan committed to providing incentives and zoning changes to grow the industry. Garcia, on the other hand, includes the vague commitment to “incentivize growth within the biotech sector, including the Brookdale science corridor.”

Donovan also wishes to “lead the world in climate adaptation and jobs” by creating a NYC Climate Corps to provide jobs, incorporate climate adaptation industry training into the city’s workforce programs, “support private sector innovations for “Finance & Install” offerings,” clarify regulations surrounding the wind power generation sector, and buildings’ climate adaptation investments.

Adams stands out for his focus on wind power, releasing a plan called “The Tailwind for Our New New York Economy” solely on the subject. Adams would invest in developing current waterfront assets to be the "backbone of the East Coast's wind power industry." He would accomplish this by developing new wind power manufacturing centers, expediting approvals and permits for wind power projects, putting "upfront investments" into upgrading city ports and on-shore infrastructure and committing the city to purchase a certain amount of the wind power generated to help spur the industry.

McGuire has given a spotlight to growing the soon to be legal cannabis industry in New York City. He would create a Cannabis Opportunity Fund through his Comeback Bank initiative, which would offer grants and subsidized loans for cannabis retail locations and other businesses. McGuire would launch a mentorship and workforce training program for those looking to open a “cannabis or cannabis-adjacent” business in the city. Partnering with industry experts in legal cannabis and other fields, McGuire’s cannabis workforce development plans would be a part of his overall plan to update the city’s workforce training programs. In addition, McGuire would invest in incubators for cannabis startups and work with the real estate industry to create affordable space available for cannabis businesses. 

Internet Access
Recognizing the importance of high-speed Internet in allowing people to connect to the economy, particularly during the COVID-19 epidemic, candidates such as Donovan, McGuire, Garcia, Yang, Morales, Wiley, Stringer and Adams have gone on the record pledging universal broadband access. Morales is the lone candidate to pitch free broadband. Her administration would launch a city-run fiber-optic network across the city to provide free municipal broadband to New York City.

Wiley, who had broadband in her portfolio when she worked in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration as his counsel, has committed to “leverage the City’s digital infrastructure spending to help tackle the pervasive digital divide” and implement the de Blasio administration’s Internet Master Plan. Wiley’s focus would be on creating more low cost options and access, saying on her website that her administration “would work with internet providers to offer accessible, low-cost packages for communities in the hardest hit Covid-19 areas, and develop wireless technology to expand connectivity for public school families at home. Her plan would involve both public and private funding.

Adams has proposed “Mandatory Inclusionary Internet,” would use rezoning powers to require affordable internet access in new developments. Adams has committed to the creation of a  real-time GIS mapping platform so that New Yorkers can track progress on expanding internet access.

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by Grace Getman for Gotham Gazette

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