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  January 23, 2005

Diversifying Our Economy and Bringing New York Back for Good

By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

For the first time in nearly two generations, New York City is climbing out of a recession without its longtime economic engine – Wall Street – leading the way. Last year, we added more than 33,000 jobs in the private sector, even as hiring in the financial area continued to lag. Today, more New Yorkers have jobs than at any time since before 9/11.

So how has this happened? One word: Diversity. By diversifying our economy – by encouraging development in all industries – we’ve reduced our dependency on the fortunes and failures of Wall Street. That’s an essential part of our five-borough strategy for creating new jobs and opportunity in the 21st Century.

Earlier last week, for instance, we launched a $26 million effort to revive our industrial sector, which was for decades New York’s largest employer. Today’s manufacturing, warehousing and industrial businesses may be smaller and more specialized than their predecessors, but they still play an important role in our city – generating $1.7 billion in annual tax revenues, and providing a good way of life for more than half a million New Yorkers.

To protect these jobs and businesses, we plan to establish more than a dozen industrial zones around the city that will create safe, clean, and attractive places to conduct business. Industrial businesses that relocate to these zones will be eligible for tax incentives. We also guarantee that these areas will not be re-zoned for any other purpose. That should help alleviate the real estate uncertainty that has plagued our industrial business owners – nearly two-thirds of whom rent their facilities.

Perhaps the biggest factor behind New York’s resurging economy is a tourism and hospitality industry that is soaring. Last year, a record 39.6 million people visited our city, spending more than $15 billion in our hotels, restaurants, shops, and world-famous cultural attractions. And for the first time since 9/11, the number of international visitors increased.

Keeping New York a premier destination for sightseers and business travelers requires a commitment to tourism in all five boroughs – not just Manhattan. A few days ago, I was in Downtown Brooklyn to celebrate the start of a huge expansion project at the Marriott Hotel. It’s one of the most successful Marriotts on the East Coast largely because Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods have taken enormous steps to enhance their commercial and cultural spaces. We want to emulate that kind of success in all five boroughs – ensuring a stronger tourism industry, and a stronger, more diverse economy overall.

For decades, our city’s fortunes have been intimately tied to the performance of Wall Street, which is so susceptible to steep highs and sudden lows. Our commitment to diversify our economic base liberates us from these potentially dramatic swings. And by investing in other industries – which are not fixed to Manhattan – we’re spreading economic opportunity to the other four boroughs and creating a brighter future for all New Yorkers.