Hunters Point Community Library in Queens (Photo: Michael Appleton / Mayor’s Office)
On Thursday, the Center for an Urban Future released a report titled “Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery,” outlining some 250 proposals for the city’s future and drawing on ideas from more than 175 New Yorkers. Yorker. A think tank, Center for an Urban Future focuses on securing a robust and inclusive economy.
The report comes as the city not only recovers from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, but selects the next class of municipal government throughout the ongoing electoral cycle that will welcome a new mayor, a new city council and ‘other office holders in January. It offers a set of plans that ambitiously promise to recoup 500,000 jobs lost during the pandemic that have yet to return, strengthen small businesses and provide meaningful help for a renaissance in the arts, among other goals.
“New Yorkers are full of bold ideas,” the report says. “Now is the time to turn those ideas into action. The Center for an Urban Future drew on diverse ideas from business, labor, education, community and other leaders, arguing that a diverse mix of authors faithfully reflects the strengths and possibilities of the city.
All in all, it is a “global vision” for the economic reconstruction of the city that is “urgent, practical and full of hope,” the report says. Its detail and breadth are meant to offer the next class of city leaders a political agenda rooted in the will, creativity and thoughtfulness of the people.
The ideas were compiled from a series of interviews, emails and meetings conducted by the Center for an Urban Future between March and May of this year. Each proposal was submitted in response to one of three prompts – how to trigger an immediate economic recovery, how to best address the structural challenges resulting from or exacerbated by the pandemic, and how to rebuild a more equitable economy in the long run. The report attributes each suggestion to its original source and urges the ideas to be considered entirely their own and their author, and not as policies endorsed by other study participants or by the CUF itself. -even.
The hundreds of proposals are divided into a set of ten fundamental principles: trigger New York’s economic comeback; strengthen New York’s small businesses; help New Yorkers of color increase their incomes and build wealth; make skills development the centerpiece of a fair recovery; reinventing streets and public spaces and reinvesting in vital urban infrastructure; revitalize the hard-hit arts sector to restore magnetism and vitality to the city; build a stronger and more inclusive economy in the long term; prioritizing hard-hit workers and communities; and consolidate the building blocks of New York’s economic success.
Under the first principle – triggering an economic return – the report lists a total of 36 ideas. The proposals focus on climate resilience, job creation, tourism campaigns and even the revitalization of social housing. Among them, Sally Tallant, President and CEO of the Queens Museum, suggests filling vacant office spaces with artists in residence; while Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, suggests trying to attract film and television production from Georgia and other states by creating new incentives.
On strengthening the city’s small businesses, the report presents proposals with a strong focus on themes of increased access to capital and financial services, as well as advancement in the technology sector and reallocation of space. the city. There are plans to create an emergency subsidy program for street vendors; help restaurants access food supply contracts from the Ministry of Education and senior centers; allow businesses to operate temporarily in city parks; and use the tech-savvy student bodies on CUNY campuses to help small businesses connect.
By helping New Yorkers of color increase their income and wealth, the report lists plans for the issuance of “baby bonds”; increased capital funding for minority and women-owned construction companies; expansion of freelance poles; helping New Yorkers of color start businesses in the burgeoning marijuana industry; extending government benefits and voting rights to immigrant communities; and more. Nathaniel Fields, CEO of the Urban Resource Institute, has proposed a pay rise for the nonprofit and human services workforce.
To “embrace” public health to ensure a healthier New York City with a better economy, the report includes proposals from contributors to make the city a public health “capital of the world” and the best city. prepared for the next pandemic. Specifically, there are plans to transform the city’s covid testing and tracing body into a public health staff and expanding the mandate of the mayor’s resilience office to include threats to public health.
By making skills development the focal point of a fair economic recovery, Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, proposed launching a major workforce training initiative focused on women and the economy of women. care. This section of the report also lists plans to increase funding for adult education; provide a free community college; create a talent match program within the biotechnology industry; bridging the digital divide through community support services; and target workforce development programs for domestic violence survivors and the homeless.
As part of the goal of “Reinventing streets and public spaces and reinvesting in vital urban infrastructure,” the report touts a plan by Sheena Wright, President and CEO of United Way of NYC, to give the priority to affordable home ownership over rental housing. , as well as the plans of other contributors to launch a WPA-like program to create jobs and modernize the city’s infrastructure; improve home-work journeys for essential workers by subsidizing the purchase of electric micromobility vehicles; and extend the Hudson Bergen light rail to Staten Island; among others.
On the revitalization of the arts and the return of the “magnetism” of the city, the report proposes a corps of jobs of teaching artists; free rehearsal spaces in schools; create individual development accounts with grants for artists; ensure that city funding for the arts goes to organizations that pay a living wage; and more.
The platform reaches a broader point with the eighth principle – building a stronger and more inclusive economy in the long run. Here, the proposals look to the future by diversifying the economy with plans to support the manufacture of PPE and sterilization products and to increase the city’s presence in the adult entertainment industry and in the green economy.
Prioritizing hard-hit workers and communities, the report includes plans from contributors to strengthen the impact of local nonprofits by prioritizing their payment on time; create a new office to target K-12 students who were disconnected from school during the pandemic; bridging the digital divide through the expansion of broadband and digital literacy programs; expand ethnic studies programs in schools; and ensure that there are stable and well-trained security guards in homeless shelters.
Finally, the report ends with a relatively short section on consolidating the building blocks of New York City’s economic success. Much of the plans in this section fall under the themes of a clean and safe city – with proposals for prioritizing investments in quality of life; put money into street cleaning; and bring community leaders and the NYPD together for conversations about public safety.
There is much more to the 250 proposals included in the Center for an Urban Future report. The publication, in its entirety, attempts to provide a roadmap for a post-pandemic city that builds on what CUF calls “an unwavering belief in the power of New Yorkers to tackle great challenges together.”