FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES HOW HIS FIVE BOROUGH ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY PLAN IS IMPROVING ACCESS TO CREDIT AND PROVIDING MORE SUPPORT TO HISPANIC-OWNED BUSINESSES IN KEYNOTE ADDRESS TO THE NEW YORK CITY HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LUNCHEON
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared:
“Gracias, Miriam y Nick, y Tonio tambien. Buenos tardes, amigos y amigas. Es un placer estar aquí con todos ustedes.
“Summer officially begins this weekend. We may even see the sun. Actually, it’s only rained twice in the past week: once for three days, and once for four.
“I’m honored by your award, and also by the support so many of you have given us over the past seven years. Es un honor recibir esta distinción y por el apoyo que tantos de ustedes nos han brindado en los últimos siete años. Together, we’ve achieved so much for all the people of our city. We’ve continued to reduce crime to historic lows. We’re the undisputed safest big city in the nation. Our public schools are also becoming a model for the nation. You can see that in the impressive gains our students made on their math and reading test scores again this year.
“We should be proud of all of them – and especially proud that Hispanic students, along with African American students, continue to lead the charge. They’re closing the achievement gap in our classrooms that has been the shame of our city for far too long. We’re continuing to create affordable housing at an historic pace – a subject I’m going to come back to in a few minutes. And New Yorkers also are living longer, healthier lives. For the first time in more than 60 years, the average New Yorker is living longer than our fellow Americans.
“So our city is safe and strong, and our long-term future is bright. Por todo eso, nuestra ciudad esta fuerte y segura, y tenemos un futuro prometedor. And perhaps the strongest vote of confidence in that future is that our population continues to grow to record levels. Y tal vez el más significante voto de confianza sobre ese futuro es que nuestra población sigue creciendo de forma impresionante – y esto incluye a los hispanos. Today we have 8.4 million New Yorkers – nearly one-third of whom proudly proclaim their Hispanic heritage.
“For all those reasons, I wouldn’t trade the cards in our hand for those held by any of the cities we compete with in rest of the nation. But just like those cities, New York has also been hit hard by our national economic recession. The economic and human costs are great. And that includes the financial strains on the small businesses that are the backbone of our city’s economy. I know how hard they, and you, are struggling. But remember: We’re New Yorkers. We’ve been knocked to the canvas many times before. And instead of throwing up our hands and saying ‘No mas,’ each time we’ve come back swinging – and come out on top. Believe me, we’re coming back on top this time, too.
“And you can also believe this: our Hispanic-owned businesses are going to help lead the way. Los negocios hispanos son de esenciales para el crecimiento de nuestra economía ahora y en el futuro. You are absolutely vital to our economy now, and in the future. Just look at the numbers. The last report from the U.S. Census found that there are more than 130,000 Hispanic-owned businesses throughout the five boroughs, with receipts of $8.7 billion a year, and annual payrolls of one and one-quarter billion dollars. And those numbers are from 2002 – so no doubt about it, your economic importance is even greater today. And that’s why growing Hispanic-owned businesses is such a crucial part of our five-borough economic opportunity plan. Our strategy for leading the city out of the national recession, and for creating and preserving 400,000 jobs for New Yorkers over the next six years.
“That plan has these three key elements: helping New Yorkers weather these hard times; strengthening our economy for the long-term; and creating affordable and attractive neighborhoods that have the housing and local businesses that New Yorkers need. Hispanic-owned businesses are critical to each of those strategies. Let’s start with how we’re helping businesses that are pinched by these hard times.
“Two days ago, we unveiled the latest steps that Commissioner Rob Walsh and his great team at the Department of Small Business Services are taking to help our Hispanic-owned businesses. They include getting the lifeblood of business – credit – flowing more freely, providing Hispanic businessmen and women with more information about how the City can help their firms, and also launching a new bi-lingual web site for Hispanic business owners. You can link to it from nyc.gov. And while you’re there, look for information about the ‘NYC Business Solutions Financing Fair’ that SBS will hold for Hispanic-owned businesses on July 9th. It’s going to be the time and place to pitch your financing needs to banks, credit unions, and other lenders in our city.
“Today, many small businesses need emergency financing just to meet the payroll and stay in business. There’s been a lot of talk lately about businesses that are ‘too big to fail.’ We think our small businesses are too important to fail. That’s why we’ve created a revolving loan fund called ‘NYC Capital Access.’ The City isn’t in the business of making loans ourselves. But by guaranteeing loans from banks and credit unions, we’re throwing out a lifeline to small businesses owners caught in the credit crunch.
“One of them is Luis Guevara. Ten years ago, he came to los Estados Unidos from Ecuador. Here, in our city of immigrants, he founded ‘Q Sweaters.’ He’s made it a success. Today, it employs 50 people in Bushwick. But then last fall, the credit markets froze up. And like a lot of other solid business owners, he couldn’t get a loan when he needed it most. But with help from NYC Capital Access, now he’s keeping his doors open and his workers employed until business picks up again. Luis can’t be with us today; he’s minding the shop. So on his behalf, let me remind the rest of you: it’s never too early to start Christmas shopping; those ‘Q’ brand sweaters make great gifts!
“Those are just some of the things we’re doing to help businesses in the short-term. We’re also strengthening Hispanic-owned businesses for the long-term, too – the second element of our economic opportunity plan. And increasing the City’s use of Hispanic vendors is a big part of that. From day one, we’ve worked to level the contracting playing field for our city’s minority- and women-owned businesses. Six years ago, I signed an Executive Order eliminating the red tape that had kept many minority- and women-owned businesses from bidding on City jobs. Then in 2005, we worked with the City Council to pass Local Law 129. Now we require City agencies to set goals for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses.
“Those efforts are paying off. Last year, for example, for example, Padilla Construction won a nearly $14 million contract for one of the highest-profile projects in the city: reconstructing the north end of Union Square. And in the past fiscal year alone, Hispanic firms increased the value of prime and sub-contracts won from over $40 million to more than $68 million – a 69% increase.
“We’re also engaged in the biggest school construction campaign in the city’s history. It’s managed by the School Construction Authority. And they do a fantastic job of outreach to minority- and women-owned businesses. The result: The value of school construction prime contracts and sub-contracts to Hispanic-owned businesses has almost tripled, from $18 million four years ago to more than $50 million in FY ‘08. And we’re not stopping there. SCA’s ‘minority business development program’ is a national model. They’re ready to help and they’re here today; raise your hands, SCA! If anyone here is in the construction business: get to know SCA today!
“Creating attractive and affordable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers is the third piece of our economic opportunity plan. To keep New York’s growing and our economy strong, we’ve got to be a city that people of every profession and income level are eager to live in, and raise their families in. That’s the reason why, back in 2002 – even before New York had climbed out of the post-9/11 recession – we launched the most ambitious affordable housing initiative any American city has ever seen. Today, we’re more than halfway to our goal: Creating and preserving affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers. And since we’re here in the Bronx, let me say that more of that housing has been built in the Bronx than in any other borough!
“That’s because we see a great future for Hispanic communities in the Bronx – and in the other four boroughs, too. We see a great future for Hunts Point – a future that not only supports growth and modernization of what’s already the biggest wholesale food distribution center in the nation, but that also includes new jobs, new parks, cleaner air, more affordable housing, and badly needed new supermarkets for the people of Hunts Point. We also see a great future for the community that’s always been the heart of the Bronx: the area along the Grand Concourse. We’re hopeful that within a few weeks, the City Council will approve our rezoning of 30 blocks on and near the Lower Concourse – the next big step toward creating 3,100 new apartments and more than 3,000 new jobs in that historic community. In Melrose Gardens – at the new Bronx Gateway mall – all along 161st Street – and in neighborhoods across the Bronx, we’re creating the homes and businesses that the people of the Bronx need. And all the progress here will be on display for the whole world to see when A-Rod faces Johann Santana in the World Series here this October! A Subway Series! You heard it here first! And you’ve gotta believe!
“And that’s because there’s every good reason to believe in los Yankees, los Mets, y también debemos creer en el futuro de nuestra gran ciudad. With our five-borough economic opportunity plan, we’re helping New Yorkers – including our Hispanic-owned businesses – weather these tough times. We’re helping our businesses – including our Hispanic-owned businesses – build the foundation for long-term prosperity. We’re working to create the neighborhoods that all New Yorkers – including our Hispanic New Yorkers – want for their families. And with your help – if we stay on the course we’ve set – we can make sure that the best days for this great city are still to come.
“Let me repeat that in Spanish: Con la ayuda de todos- si seguimos en el camino que hemos forjado - podemos asegurarnos que los mejores días de esta gran ciudad están por venir. Gracias por su apoyo. De nuevo les doy las gracias por esta distinción. Thank you for your support. Thank you once again for this award. Y que Dios los bendiga! God bless!”
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958