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PR- 075-05
March 1, 2005


Mayor Bloomberg's prepared remarks are below.  Please check against delivery:

Good morning, everyone – and Happy Thanksgiving.

That’s right.  Today is March 1st—and in the year 1656, Peter Stuyvesant, the Governor of New Netherlands, declared this a day of thanks for the residents of the colony.

History does not record whether he then handed out turkeys to all the colonists.  Probably not; he was a good administrator, but not a very savvy politician. 

But if Peter Stuyvesant were with us, he would see a lot of reasons for New Yorkers to be thankful today, too. 

He would appreciate that our future is bright.  And so should we.  Because today, nearly three and a half years after 9/11, our economy has surged back, and is growing stronger by the day.

That didn’t just happen.  It wasn’t the product of luck or providence.  It’s a result of our Administration’s efforts to create jobs and opportunity in all five boroughs.  And although we’ve made tremendous progress, this is no time to let up. 

From the start, we’ve pursued a strategy with three key elements:  Making New York more livable, more economically diverse, and more business-friendly. 

By continuing to follow that strategy, we’ll succeed in building a city of opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Livability starts with safety.  It’s fundamental to creating opportunity.  And today New Yorkers are safer than we’ve been in modern memory.  We’ve driven crime 71% lower than it was 12 years ago, and nearly 23% lower than it was four years ago. 

During 2004, murders fell to the lowest level since 1963—and they’re down another 17% so far this year.  In short, throughout our Administration, we have continued to drive crime down and keep New York the nation’s safest large city.

And keep in mind that we’ve accomplished that at the same time that we’ve committed 1,000 officers exclusively to intelligence and counter-terrorism duties, and posted some of our best detectives to cities halfway around the world.

On Saturday, when I helped dedicate the new memorial to the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, I said that we paid an awful price for not learning the lessons of that attack—and we can’t afford to re-learn them another time.  The human cost is just too high.

That’s a vital part of our commitment to keeping New Yorkers safe.  So are other measures, too. 

One is fire safety; during 2004, fire deaths fell to an 85-year low.  And fatalities among pedestrians and motorists were also the lowest since 1910.

New York’s livability is improving in other important respects as well.  Our streets are the cleanest they’ve been in 30 years. 

We’re on course to complete the city’s biggest affordable housing initiative since the mid-1980s—a $3 billion, five-borough commitment to build and preserve affordable housing for 200,000 New Yorkers. 

Events and places that are entertaining, stimulating, and creative help make a city livable, too.  That defines the best in urban living.  And it embodies the spirit of New York. 

For proof, just look at the thousands who flocked to our city from around the globe to see “The Gates.”  Later this week, we’ll present a fuller picture of the major economic impact “The Gates” had.  But I can tell you now that hotel occupancy rates and business at restaurants were well-above normal mid-February levels.

The world came here to see The Gates—and we’re always ready to welcome the world back.  In fact, we’re very hopeful that in July, the International Olympic Committee will select New York, the world’s second home, as the logical place to hold the world’s greatest sporting event: the Summer Games in 2012. 

No one can dispute that the Olympics would have a tremendous impact on New York.  They would generate some 120,000 jobs.

More than that, they would create a legacy of 825 acres of new and refurbished parks in all five boroughs.

From the new pool at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, to new mountain biking courses at Fresh Kills on Staten Island, it would be the largest investment in parks in the city’s history. 

The Olympic Village would provide housing for 18,000 New Yorkers in a stunning new neighborhood created on the East River shoreline near Long Island City. 

These legacies, and the transportation improvements that would accompany them, would add immeasurably to making New York a more livable city.

And after what the IOC Evaluation Commission said while they were here last week, people there can no longer be any doubt.  Their message was clear: no Sports and Convention Center, no Olympics: End of story.  You can’t have it both ways; if you’re opposed to one, you’re opposed to the other. 

And without the Sports and Convention Center we can also forget any hope of bringing events like the Super Bowl or the Final Four to New York, either.

Every analysis shows that the Sports and Convention Center will make a big profit for the taxpayers of New York City and State.

The City’s Independent Budget Office puts the figure at $900 million for the City and State over 30 years.  Our estimate is $1.4 billion.

The municipal unions who oppose the stadium need to realize that without new tax revenues, we won't be able to afford raises for city employees.

Those who say we would do better with commercial and residential development over the rail yards are ignoring what we have already accomplished in the surrounding area.

On the Far West Side, we just completed the largest rezoning in the City’s history.  We will make $2.8 billion in critical infrastructure improvements, including the first extension of the City subway system in two decades - at no cost to the MTA, because the City is paying for it. 

We will also create more than 20 acres of new parks and open space, 24 million square feet of commercial space, and 14,000 apartments, including thousands of affordable units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. 

The Sports and Convention Center is crucial to our tourism industry, which supports more than a quarter-million jobs.  Many of them are filled by our newest New Yorkers who are ready to climb the economic ladder into the middle class.  New York has to be a city of opportunity for everyone.

And to ensure our long-term prosperity, we’ve got to reduce our reliance on Wall Street.  That means diversifying our economy by strengthening tourism and other industries that create jobs in all five boroughs.

The fact is that the tourism potential of many neighborhoods has only begun to be tapped.  Harlem is a prime example.  International visitors flock to Harlem—yet for nearly 40 years, the neighborhood has been without a hotel.  It’s a sign of the changing times in Harlem, and in New York, that two are now on the way.  In fact, two weeks ago, we broke ground on the first, a Marriott.  It and the commercial development it’s part of will produce 1,000 new jobs.

Preserving and creating jobs in manufacturing, warehousing, and related businesses is also a key element of our five-borough economic strategy.  That’s why we’ve recently launched a comprehensive new industrial policy. 

We’ve also enacted tax credits to encourage television and film production—a $5 billion a year industry that supports 100,000 jobs from catering to construction in every corner of our city.  It’s working; today, five new television pilots are being made in New York City. 

And even though we’ve recently opened the biggest new sound stage on the East Coast at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, all three of the city’s major film production studios are fully booked. 

We’re moving ahead vigorously to name a developer for the East River Science Park.  That’s a project key to making New York more competitive in the growing field of biotech research and investment.

We’re also hard at work with our partners in State government and with Forest City Ratner to diversify Brooklyn’s economy with the Atlantic Yards project.

It’s a commercial, retail and residential development that will be the capstone of the Brooklyn Renaissance, and the home of the first major league sports team to play in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left 47 years ago.

Then there’s the third prong of our economic development strategy: making New York more business friendly.  It requires both public investment and public leadership. 

Our Administration is providing both.  We’ve committed $2 billion to a broad array of economic development projects in all five boroughs. 

More than 60 of them are detailed in a brochure we’ve handed out.  Among the most significant is our $85 million investment in the nation’s largest wholesale seafood market, opening this spring at Hunts Point.  It’s an incredible state-of-the-art facility that is long enough to hold the Empire State Building set on its side. 

It will bring jobs to the South Bronx while at the same time permitting us to plan better use for the Fulton Fish Market’s old home on the East River’s downtown waterfront.

We’re putting $70 million into infrastructure improvements at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park—improvements supporting private investments that will produce 500 to 800 new jobs.

And at Staten Island’s Homeport, $66 million in City investments in streets, piers, water mains and other facilities will help create new housing, open space, business investment, and jobs.  

Our Administration’s leadership has been just as important in opening the way for private investment and job creation.

Take the Bronx Terminal Market, a project mired in conflict since the days of Lindsay Administration.  We broke the logjam there.  Some of the decrepit buildings on that site are already coming down.  To be replaced by attractive stores a riverfront park.  It’s a $300 million project that will bring 1,400 permanent new jobs to the South Bronx.

Our leadership is also crucial to the ongoing development of our city’s newest central business district at Queens Plaza.  To the creation of an exciting new cultural district centered around the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  And to the opening up of the Far West Side of Manhattan as New York City’s next great commercial, residential, and recreational destination.

Some people have said that City Hall can’t do much to influence economic growth.  They’re just as wrong as the people who used to say that the police couldn’t do anything to stop crime—and we’re using every policy tool at our disposal to show that. 

Here’s what being a business-friendly Administration means.  New York businesses need room to grow.  And over the last three years, we’ve embarked on the most ambitious and targeted re-zoning program New York has seen in more than 40 years. 

On the Far West Side and in Downtown Brooklyn, our rezonings have created potential commercial space equivalent to half of downtown Boston!  Then take into account the pending rezonings of Greenpoint-Williamsburg and West Chelsea, and you’ve got enough housing for 60,000 New Yorkers—more than half the population of Albany. 

These rezonings will also produce jobs in all five boroughs.  230,000 permanent new jobs will be generated by the rezoning of the Far West Side.  There will be 18,000 permanent new jobs created by Brooklyn’s rezoning - and thousands more jobs produced by other rezonings, too. 

And on the Far West Side alone, the net return in tax revenues will be $60 billion to the City and State over 30 years.  

Well, it’s one thing to lay out a strategy.  It’s another to measure results.  I’m happy to say that our strategy measures up.  Because any way you look at it, New York’s economy is growing.  The facts speak for themselves. 

Our tourism industry is thriving.  Nearly 40 million people visited New York during 2004—a new record.  With help from the thousands who flocked to New York for “The Gates,” we’re on course to break that record this year. 

Hotel occupancy rates are climbing, and room rates are starting to rise.  Traffic is up at our airports.  And after a long post-9/11 decline, the number of overseas visitors rebounded last year.

There’s also a construction boom in all five boroughs.  New construction permits are up 20% since 2000.  We’ve set new records for issues permits during each of the last two years.  Residential property values have increased nearly 80% citywide since 2001.  The citywide commercial vacancy rate has fallen steadily during the last six quarters.

Yesterday, the respected monthly National Association of Purchasing Management New York business index survey reported that in February, business in the metropolitan area expanded for the 18th consecutive month.  And the managers surveyed said that they sense a pickup in local hiring.

Without a doubt, New York is producing new jobs.  Last year, we created 37,000 new private sector jobs in New York—and a leading authority, Crain’s, forecasts that we’ll see 50,000 additional new jobs in 2005.

After 9/11, unemployment in New York City rose as high as 8.6%.  Today, it has fallen to just over 6%. 

Now we’ve got to make sure that all New Yorkers enjoy our renewed prosperity.  Every community sacrificed to put New York back on the road to recovery; every community should share in the rewards.

To do that, we’ve completely overhauled the City’s job training programs.  Now, they’re tied to the new jobs being produced in our city—jobs at the Mandarin Hotel, at the Hunts Point seafood market, and at the Steiner film studios in Brooklyn.

In all, our Administration has placed people in jobs in more than a thousand businesses across the city—a tremendous achievement.  But we’re not stopping there. 

We’ve helped level the playing field for minority- and women-owned businesses that want to become City vendors and contractors.  And in a few days, I will fulfill a pledge I made in January’s State of the City, and appoint the Mayor’s Commission on Construction Opportunity. 

Its members will include developers, contractors, union representatives, senior members of my Administration, and Congressman Charles Rangel.  And its goal will be to ensure that publicly and privately funded development projects in New York City get built safely and fairly, with opportunities for all.   

Opportunity for all:  That’s what New York is about.  In fact it’s what we’ve always been about – even back on March 1st, 1656 - 349 years ago today.

Of course, that Thanksgiving didn’t feel exactly like the one New Yorkers celebrate now:  no turkey dinner, no football game on TV, and probably no parade down Broadway with giant Pocahontas balloons floating overhead.

But Stuyvesant and his fellow colonists undoubtedly gave very similar thanks:  for being safe, for being free, and for being here.  For being in the place where anyone, from any background, can pursue his or her own dreams – and realize them.   

The fourth Thursday in November - or the first of March - it’s never the wrong day to celebrate Thanksgiving in New York.  I should know.  I came here nearly 40 years ago, with little more than a college degree and a young man’s dreams.  With a lot of hard work, and a great deal of luck, I’ve achieved more than I ever imagined. 

Now, with all my heart, I want to help make those same kinds of dreams possible for every New Yorker.  That’s the vision that guides our Administration.  Over the last three years, we have made enormous strides toward making it a reality.  We’re on the right course.  And by continuing to move forward together, we can ensure that New York’s best days—days of true thanksgiving for all—are still ahead.

Thank you very much.   Now I’ll be glad to take the panel’s questions. 


Edward Skyler / Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958

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