FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS KEYNOTE SPEECH ON THE CITY'S INITIATIVE TO PERSUADE A TOP-TIER UNIVERSITY TO BUILD OR EXPAND AN ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCES CAMPUS IN NEW YORK CITY
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's prepared remarks at the Crain's New York Business conference, "Future of New York City" follow. Please check against delivery.
"Thank you, Kathy, and good afternoon. I hope all of you are getting out and enjoying the city this summer. I went to Yankee Stadium on Friday night to see a guy with a lot of hits - no, not Derek Jeter: Paul McCartney. It was a great show, and believe it or not, Paul and I actually have a few things in common. We're both the same age - I know, it's hard to believe Paul is only 49 too. We both have an ear for music. And we were both known as 'the cute one.' I can't promise that my speech today will be as much fun as singing along to 'Hey Jude' - but feel free to clap your hands as much as you like.
"I really do want to thank Crain's and Jill Kaplan, and Kathy and The Partnership, for putting together this conference on the future of New York City. In government, just like in many corporations, the focus of management tends to be on the next day, or the next quarter, or the next year, instead of on the next decade and the next century. But cities and organizations that do not look far ahead get left far behind.
"That is not a mistake we will make. We are as focused on tomorrow as we are on today. I'm very proud that our Administration, from the very beginning, has always taken the long view. We have based our policy and investment decisions not on whether they will generate headlines or votes, but on whether they will help generate a new century of economic growth.
"When I was first elected in 2001, New York City still had one foot planted firmly in the 20th century - and unfortunately, it was the first half of the 20th century. Most of our basic infrastructure was 50 to 100 years old. Most of our waterfront reflected an industrial age that had long ago disappeared. Most of our neighborhoods had seen relatively little new housing construction, even as our population was rising dramatically. And most of our economy was too dependent on Wall Street.
"In drawing up an economic development strategy after 9/11, our ultimate goal was not recovery or even rebuilding. It was renewal. Renewal of our infrastructure. Renewal of our economy. Renewal of our school system. Renewal of our parks and streets and neighborhoods. We had to drag our city out of the past - by envisioning a brighter future and building it.
"The future we envisioned for New York has a stronger, more modern foundation, and so we have made major investments in infrastructure projects - like the Third Water Tunnel - that are not exactly sexy, but that are so essential to our growth. A third water tunnel was begun in 1970 so that we could fix the other two without any disruptions. But like the 2nd Avenue subway, it fell victim to budget cuts again and again. Now, after the $2.5 billion we've invested in good times and bad, the next major phase of the water tunnel is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
"The future we envisioned for New York has greener neighborhoods with more recreational opportunities for young and old alike. And so we have undertaken the biggest investment in our park system since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal - with 680 new acres added over the past nine years, and another 1,800 in the pipeline.
"The future we envisioned for New York has enough space for generations of families and companies to grow. And so we have re-zoned major swaths of the city to allow for more housing and commercial development.
"On the Far West Side of Manhattan, we're building an extension to the Number Seven subway line - the first city-funded subway track in 25 years and it will be built on time - something that you don't hear too often about subway construction. It will do for the Far West Side what the Jubilee Tube line did for Canary Wharf in London: transform an old industrial area into one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the world.
"At Willets Point, we've begun the work of transforming an environmentally degraded former landfill into a beautiful waterfront community - with jobs and housing for the middle class. On Staten Island, we've begun the work of transforming the old Homeport Naval base into a beautiful waterfront community - with jobs and housing for the middle class. At Hunters Point, we've begun the work of transforming an old industrial area into a beautiful waterfront community - with jobs and housing for the middle class.
"In all of these projects, and many others, we are doing what New Yorkers have always done best: envisioning the city of tomorrow and creating the conditions for it to come to life. We are doing what New Yorkers have done at key points throughout our history: investing so that the future of this City will be brighter than its past.
"When our city fathers created the street grid two hundred years ago, there was no need to stretch it to 155th Street - but they did, because they imagined growth they could not see. When Central Park was built 150 years ago, there was no need to carve out such a huge swath of Manhattan - but they did, over the objections of those who said it was too big, too costly, and took too much time to build because they imagined the greatest public park in the country. When the first subway line was built, there was no need to stretch it to Upper Manhattan - but they did, because they imagined neighborhoods growing out of farm lands.
"New York became the world's greatest city because New Yorkers dared to dream it and build it. Today, we are looking far into the future once again - and launching one of most promising economic development initiatives in the city's long history.
"This morning, we released a Request for Proposals to universities near and far. Our offer is straightforward: We will provide prime New York City real estate - at virtually no cost, plus up to $100 million in infrastructure upgrades, in exchange for a university's commitment to build or expand a world-class science and engineering campus here in our city. We are offering sites at three possible locations, all of them under-utilized, and all of them overflowing with potential: Governors Island; the Navy Yard; and Roosevelt Island.
"This is not the first time government has offered land and funding in exchange for university development. Governments around the world are not only offering American universities land - they are offering to pick up all capital and operating costs associated with an expansion on their soil. They recognize how important universities are to economic growth - because they have seen it happen here in America.
"In 1862, the U.S. government created a land grant program for the creation of new universities. President Lincoln and Congress sought to promote innovation and expertise in agriculture and engineering - because they knew those fields were critical to the nation's economic growth. And how right they were. Cornell, MIT, Cal-Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and so many major universities grew out of that land grant program, and along with them came pioneering discoveries that helped America become the world's largest economy.
"New York City is lucky to have so many top-flight universities here - in fact, we are the biggest college town in America. We have more 600,000 students enrolled in higher education - which is more students than Boston has people. We are also lucky to have several top-flight engineering schools - and I'm glad to report that they are taking our offer seriously.
"But they are not the only ones. Universities from around the country - and some from around the world - have expressed interest in our offer. And that's how it should be. Because we are an international city - and a city that believes in free competition. We are open to any person with any dream, any entrepreneur with any idea, any company with any capital, and any university with any proposal.
"Universities are so important to our future - and that is why we have worked so hard to support major expansions at Columbia, Cooper Union, Fordham, and NYU - and why we have provided more than $1 billion to CUNY in recent years. But by extending this offer, our goal is not to help any particular institution grow; it's to help our entire city grow.
"To understand why this initiative is so important to our City's future, I think we must not only look ahead to where the global economy is going - but also look back at where we've been. Because what we are proposing is really our most ambitious attempt yet to counter-act a decades-long economic trend that once threatened the very future of American cities.
So let me step back a few decades - to my first year in New York, 1966. I arrived in town with a BA in engineering and an MBA. I didn't have a grand plan for my life; I had always assumed I would end up working for an engineering or manufacturing company. But a good friend - Steve Fenster - pointed me to Wall Street. It was a lucky break because, even though no one knew it at the time, the American economy was beginning a prolonged - and painful - period of decline in manufacturing. I was fired from my job at Salomon Brothers in 1981 - but if I had gone to work in the manufacturing industry, I might have been fired much sooner.
"Between 1966 and 2001, the year I was elected mayor, New York City went from about 800,000 jobs in manufacturing to about 150,000. Three out of every four jobs were lost - most of them middle-class jobs that did not require a college degree. New York was not alone - this happened in cities across the northern United States. And as it did, many places that relied on one or two major employers began rusting out. New York managed to survive better than most cities - largely because of the strength of our financial industry and the continuing arrival of new immigrant groups. But at the same time, our economic health became ever more dependent on Wall Street's booms and busts.
"When I came into office in 2002, we recognized that problem - and we set about correcting it. We created a five-borough economic development strategy focused on expanding the industries that have the potential to grow and expand here: That included not only finance, but also film and television, bio-tech, fashion, arts and culture, tourism, modern manufacturing, and small businesses of every kind. Our goal was simple: to expand job growth outside of Wall Street so that when the financial markets turned down, as it always does, more New Yorkers would keep their jobs.
"Well, since the worst national recession in decades hit, 5.8 percent of all private-sector American jobs have been lost. Here in New York City - that number is only 0.5 percent. Our efforts to diversify our economy and strengthen the infrastructure that is the foundation of our growth allowed us to go into the recession later than the rest of the country - and come out of it faster and stronger than the rest of the country.
"When the markets collapsed in 2008, we made a decision to double-down on our diversification strategy - in a few key ways. First, we expanded our Workforce One Career Centers, which help connect people to jobs in industries that were still hiring. Last year, we made a record 31,000 job placements - and this year, by opening ten more Workforce One Career Centers, we expect to break that record.
"Second, we launched new initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship. With companies laying off skilled workers, one way we could beat the recession was to help some of them launch their own businesses - and many have.
"Third, we held meetings with industry leaders in every major sector of our economy to understand what more we could do to help. We asked 325 CEOs, entrepreneurs, university leaders, and other major employers what their key needs were - and the most common refrain they repeated over and over again was: Technology capacity is critical to our growth - and there is just not enough of it here.
"They are right. For most of our history, New York City was the technology capital of the United States - and the world. We became the country's economic engine because our entrepreneurs were the most innovative - and their ideas and investments built our city into a global powerhouse.
"When Robert Fulton built the first commercially viable steamship in 1806, he spawned a shipping industry that would employ countless New Yorkers for generations to come.
"When Samuel Morse sent the telegraph in 1844, he spawned a communications industry that would employ countless New Yorkers for generations to come.
"When Charles Pfizer founded his drugstore in Williamsburg in 1848, with a $2,500 loan from his father, he spawned a pharmaceutical industry that would employ countless New Yorkers for generations to come.
"When Alexander Graham Bell opened Bell Laboratories on West Street in 1898, which became the largest industrial research center in the United States - he helped spawn all sorts of innovations - including talking movies and television - that would employ countless New Yorkers for generations to come.
"All of these innovators - and so many more - began with little more than an idea and turned it into an entire industry. The fact is, New York was Start-up City before there were start-ups. When I created Bloomberg LP in 1981, no one called us a start-up. But that's what we were. We had an untested idea that relied on untested technology developed by a one-time engineering student and a few computer scientists. Of course back then, they weren't called scientists. They were called nerds. But I could never have built the business without them.
"Unfortunately for our city, my company was more the exception than the rule. During the 1980s and 90s, Silicon Valley - not New York - became the world capital of technology start-ups. And that is still true today.
"But if I am right - and if we succeed in this mission - it won't be true forever.
"Over the past few years, our City has become an increasingly important player in the technology and bio-science industries. We have made major investments to help bioscience companies to grow and expand in NYC. For instance, our $25 million investment in lab space in Brooklyn and Manhattan has helped attract $775 million from the State and private developers. The first phase of the new lab at the East River Science Park was completed in 2010, and is already virtually full. At the Brooklyn Army Terminal, our BioBAT lab space is anchored by the International Aids Vaccine Initiative. And across the city, we are home to some of the most promising and creative technology start-ups in the country.
"Last year, we passed Boston to become the second largest recipient of venture capital funding for technology start-ups, behind only Silicon Valley. Boston had a lead on us for years mostly for one reason: the strength of their research institutions, especially MIT. Every year, their researchers develop technological advances that are spun-off into new businesses. In fact, active companies founded by MIT graduates generate annual revenues of about $2 trillion. That's roughly equal to the GDP of Brazil, the 10th largest economy in the world.
"In Silicon Valley - which draws from Berkeley and Stanford, among others - those spin-offs seem to happen nearly every day of the week. It happens here too, thanks in part to our own great universities, including Columbia, Cooper Union, CUNY, and NYU-Poly. But it doesn't happen enough. And that's why we're putting this offer on the table.
"We understand that we will not catch-up to Silicon Valley overnight. Building a state-of-the-art campus will take years - and attracting a critical mass of technology entrepreneurs will take even longer. But - as with everything we have done - we are taking the long view.
"We estimate that in its first 30 years, an applied science campus could spin-off some 400 new companies and create more than 7,000 construction jobs and more than 22,000 permanent jobs. Those permanent jobs are not just for PhDs - there will be jobs for building workers and administrative assistants and back-office workers. In fact, support service jobs at universities pay substantially more than similar jobs in other industries and nearly 30 percent of all people employed in universities in New York today do not even have a BA.
"Of course, all of those jobs will support local restaurants and shops of every kind, across all five boroughs. And all of those jobs will bring something else we need: tax revenue - hundreds of millions of dollars' worth, according to our estimates. But most importantly, the new campus will help us build a critical mass toward our ultimate goal: reclaiming our title as the world capital of technological innovation.
"I believe we can eventually reach that goal - because even when we were the nation's manufacturing capital, we were also its creative capital. And today, the most powerful force in the world - save the divine - is the creative spirit of the entrepreneur. That spirit is alive and well in New York. In fact, it has never been stronger. But entrepreneurs feed off of innovations that emerge from laboratories - and right now, our appetite for innovation is outstripping the capacity of our labs. Innovation will drive economic growth and business formation in the 21st century - just as it did in the 19th and 20th. We led the way then - and we must lead the way now.
"Two hundred years ago, it was enough to rely on natural advantages to build a great city. Cities were built on the intersections of rivers, or along gentle bays that launched commerce and trade on mighty oceans. Those days are long gone. Today, our greatest competitive advantages are the qualities that attract the best and brightest from around the world to come here: our freedom. Our diversity. Our tolerance. Our dynamism.
"And those are the qualities we foster here every day. In New York you can create freely. You can worship freely. And no government will tell you whom you can or can't love. We say: the only barrier to entry here is how big you can dream and how hard you can work.
"But we know that until we do more to attract world-class engineers and scientists, there will be barriers here that lead entrepreneurs and investors elsewhere and that block out the jobs of tomorrow we need to remain the world's greatest city.
"We cannot allow that to happen. To create more middle-class jobs, more living wage jobs, more jobs that close the income-gap between the rich and poor, we cannot cling to the past. We must reach for the future - just as New Yorkers have always done.
"Today, we are reaching higher than ever. We are imagining an economy stronger than ever. And we are building a city greater than ever.
"The future of New York City lies in our willingness to be true to our past: Always forward-looking, always bold, always innovative. And I firmly believe that if we embrace that history, the future of New York City will be brighter than ever. Thank you."
Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958
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