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Transcript: Mayor Adams Releases Details For First-of-Its-Kind Job And Education Hub For Growing Health Sector

November 17, 2023

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Good morning, everyone. My name is Maria Torres-Springer, and I'm the deputy mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce. Welcome to all of you on this latest stop on our Working People's Tour.

Now, we kicked off this tour about a month ago to celebrate the city's continued economic recovery. We've recovered nearly a million jobs that were lost during the pandemic, but we, of course, know that that work does not end. We have to continue to push our city forward and make sure that every neighborhood in this city benefits from continued growth in our city.

Now, since the start of the tour, we've done a lot of things. A lot of the people behind me have been extraordinarily busy. We have celebrated new nursing training programs here in Manhattan. We've celebrated a new tech hub in Union Square, the groundbreaking of new film and TV production studios in Sunnyside Yards. We've talked about the drop in crime and the increase of jobs and new services for the people of Brownsville, just to name a few.

As I mentioned, we've recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic, and we continue to be hard at work to grow our economy, but in particular, to capture future growth across so many innovative sectors.

And because of this, today's stop is extraordinarily significant because of the impact that the science, SPARC and research campus here at Kips Bay, also known as SPARC Kips Bay, will have in our city over the long term.

Now, we unveiled this vision with the mayor and with the governor just about a year ago. And there is one person who made sure that we didn't just move along on the project, but we really worked on all cylinders and with uncommon urgency to advance this transformative project as quickly as possible.

And that's the person that I now have the honor of introducing the get stuff done mayor of New York City, Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, just for the energy that you bring to the game every day. Let me tell you a secret. Whenever you see DM Maria Torres-Springer and Andrew Kimball from EDC, you know money is about to flow into the city and good things are going to happen.

We were together yesterday to announce another initiative that we are doing, one of the largest new production studios that is in Sunnyside, Queens. They already… The shovel is in the ground already. You can see the project coming up.

This city is humming during some very difficult times. It is crucial that with all that takes place in this city, that you continue to stay the course. Our north star is to uplift working people, continue to attract businesses here to our city and make sure our city's a safe place because the prerequisite to prosperity is public safety, I set this over and over again. That's the foundation of our growth and we're going to continue to do that.

And so crime is down, jobs are up, and Councilman Powers is on the scene. You cannot ask for anything else. Both the councilman as well as the dean of our congressional delegation, we cannot thank you enough, Congressman Nadler.

And whenever we talk healthcare, we always have to have Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, a former nurse, understand this in a real way on the ground.

SPARC is going to SPARC innovation. It's going to SPARC creativity. It's going to SPARC finding solutions to the problems. Because it's one thing to attract jobs. But we are not looking just to attract jobs in our city. We are looking to ensure the jobs that are coming in are going to solve the problems of the future.

We were caught flat on our feet when the pandemic hit here, the answers did come from New York State and New York City, but we have to be forward thinking and we have to train a workforce of a professional capacity to be ready for the challenges that we are facing.

This is not the first pandemic. This is not going to be the last of the various innovation that is needed to be prepared for the challenges is what this is all about. And so a year ago, we announced Kips Bay Life Science Hub, our plan to transform an entire New York City block into a state-of-the-art destination for life sciences and health industries.

It will create more than 15,000 jobs, over 42 billion in economic impact and lead to new discoveries and treatments that will change lives and save lives. Today, as part of our Working People's Tour, as the deputy mayor announced, we're here to you what this new SPARC will look like and what the future of New York City will look like.

SPARC Kips Bay is a first of its kind job and education hub for growing the health sector in New York to ensure that New York City is a global leader in life science and public health careers. By establishing partnership with CUNY and New York City public schools, the new campus will create an accessible career pipeline for New York City students to ensure that they have family sustaining jobs.

That is why this is a Working People's Tour. This SPARC master plan features approximately two million square feet of academic, public health and life sciences spaces. The creativity that's coming from this is just amazing.

This is where we will invent new vaccines, cure chronic diseases and unlock the knowledge that will help millions of people live longer, healthier lives, create high wage, high growth jobs for New Yorkers. And that's why Gary LaBarbera, that's a good sound for you, right brother? And build opportunity for our young people as we move forward into the economy of the future.

Our city has reached so many milestones when you think about it. Just over and over again, we've announced some of the milestones we have reached, recovering the jobs we lost in the pandemic, great economic indicators, public safety, numbers we can be proud of just continuously moving forward.

A long way from January 1st, 2022 when we were trending in the wrong direction, making our way out of Covid. And there was this question mark that lingered over what the future of New York City was going to look like. All the economic experts stated that it was going to take us years to recover, five, six years to recover.

They just did not know what a get stuff done mayor looks like. We don't believe in waiting years. We believe in getting it done right away, and that's what this team has continued to do.

But we need to keep working to maximize opportunities. We can't sit back and relax. We have to keep and outpace all the challenges we are facing. Life science is one of the biggest industries on the globe and expanding every day. And I'm excited when I speak to global leaders and they tell me about the impact of life sciences and how they are exploring opportunities, we will not be left behind.

That is why we are creating a plan to handle all that innovation and opportunity in one place. Creating a dynamic life science ecosystem that unites our legacy hospitals, educational institutions and research centers into a high impact economic zone where education and workforce development come together seamlessly.

And to ensure New York City is a global leader in the essential industry, the SPARC will offer higher education opportunities through our academic partners at CUNY. I'm a CUNY twofer, graduated from John Jay College in New York City College of Technology. I know what CUNY has to offer New Yorkers, particularly middle and low income New Yorkers. It's a pathway into the middle class.

It will also ensure that we have internships and entry-level jobs from our industry stakeholders, advanced career opportunities in everything from research and development to production and innovation and space for New Yorkers to start their own companies and promote overall economic development.

I traveled to Israel a few months ago prior to the devastation that took place, and we are attracting tech startups here. They need spaces to do the job. That's the number one thing they stated that they need affordable space, and this is what this is going to offer.

This is a big vision and a long-term one. So, we have convening community task force, which ensure local businesses and residents have input into the process and a clear line of sight into the plans as they unfold.

I want to, again, thank everyone. The governor has been a real partner here. I want to thank her. I want to thank my city and state lawmakers and all of our partners, EDC, CUNY, and other partners for their vision and teamwork on how we're getting this done.

We should all be excited as New Yorkers, we have shown over and over again our resiliency and our ability to come back. The way goes New York goes America, the way goes America, goes the globe. I believe this is the starting place that we're going to use this innovation to move this country and the globe in the right direction. Job well done. Thank you all. Thank you, DM.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you so much, Mayor Adams, for your leadership on this ambitious project. It's really gratifying to see so many partners across city and state, government, CUNY staff and labor here today, of course, to celebrate this major milestone for SPARC.

As the mayor mentioned, the SPARC master plan is really a comprehensive vision to transform a full city block five acres into an extraordinary campus that will be home to new modern facilities for CUNY's various health focus schools and programs.

It's new space for H + H's preventative care programs, a new home — this might be one of my favorites, I mentioned to our colleague — for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a new health focused public school and new class A life sciences, offices and lab spaces.

Now, that might be a lot to fit into one campus, but that is why we've been working collaboratively over the past year to deliver this master plan. Over numerous meetings and discussions, we arrived at this plan that isn't just a real estate project, I want to be very clear, but it's a unified site plan.

It has amazing conceptual building designs, but also public realm improvements, new central open space and exciting community infrastructure. But more than that, more than the brick and mortar, really we've had a lot of conversations of what programming needs to look like because that's really the opportunity to have all in one place, students, industry, public servants, really all working towards the same goals, not just in life sciences and in health, but really the goals that are important to the future of our city.

So, I want to thank all of the partners for the tremendous work on this plan. First and foremost, the incredible team at EDC led by Andrew Kimball. Please, a round of applause for Andrew and the EDC team.

But I want to be clear, we wouldn't be the get stuff done administration if we stopped at a master plan. So today, as the mayor noted, we are also standing up two very important task forces to make sure that we get this right with all of the right partners.

The first is a community task force, which will be co-chaired by the amazing Councilmember Keith Powers, who we'll hear from in just a second, as well as Community Board 6, to ensure that we are really addressing all of the needs and aspirations of the local community.

Second, very importantly, education training and the workforce development task force, which will include all of the city agencies together with industry and talent developers to really help shape the workforce opportunity at this campus. We want to make sure that we are in fact training not just the current but future generation of students, of scientists, of researchers, of entrepreneurs and of public servants.

And there's more. So, we are advancing two other major components of this project. Today we are releasing the design request for proposals for the first phase of SPARC that will include designing the CUNY and New York City public school facilities, the campus open space, neighborhood resiliency infrastructure, and a new pedestrian bridge at 25th Street.

Secondly, we're happy to announce that we'll be releasing a life sciences request for expressions of interest right at the top of the new year to solicit interest from academic and research organizations that want to establish a life sciences center here at SPARC Kips Bay.

So collectively, all of these components of the SPARC Project will get us closer to realizing what the mayor described, a first of its kind innovation and jobs hub, not just in this city, not just in the state, but truly believe in this country.

We will begin the ULURP process next spring, break ground in 2025 and anticipate completion of this project by 2031. So, that is a generational investment in such a unique site and we couldn't do it without the many, many institutions who have been part of the planning process and who will continue to be part of making this project a reality.

And so let's hear from some of these very important partners. The first person I'd like to introduce is the interim president of Hunter College. Obviously, a huge stakeholder in this project, Ann Kirschner.

Ann Kirschner, Interim President, Hunter College: Thank you. Thank you so much. And thank you, Mayor Adams, on behalf of Hunter College, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Public Policy, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, this is a change day for all of CUNY.

I couldn't be more excited to be here today and I can't believe what this is going to do, not only for our institutions, but for the city of New York. On behalf of CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, I want to thank the many people and organizations who are helping to make this brochure a reality.

Mayor Adams, Governor Hochul, Councilman Powers, Congressman Nadler, the leadership of Empire State Development and the New York City Economic Corp., you all are going to make this real.

And it's going to be transformative for CUNY and its students. It's a historic investment for the city and the state that will make New York a global leader in attracting jobs, creating new jobs in life sciences, healthcare and public health.

It's the first of its kind as a hub for education and for growing those sectors in New York. And that I think is what is most exciting and most unique in this vision of an ecosystem that connects local public schools to CUNY and from CUNy to careers in this growing and essential field.

Integration with SPARC is going to...and what a great name, by the way, whoever came up with the acronym, good for you. It's going to promote internship, apprenticeships, fellowships and training opportunities with the New York City Health and Hospitals, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Life Science Partners.

In short, it's going to bring great opportunities to students from the time they enter high school to the time they land their first job. And that milestone, that long journey is the responsibility of a college. It's the mark of a great urban university. And let's remember that CUNY is the nation's largest and most important urban university.

It's not just to create a great education but to make sure that our students graduate and go on to a wide world of excellent career opportunities. And it's that ecosystem that is, to me, the secret sauce of SPARC.

It's going to be the new home for Hunter's current programs that are here, including its nursing school. And I see our dean here, Ann Marie Mauro, as well as the departments of speech language pathology and audiology and medical life sciences with state-of-the-art facilities.

It'll be the future home. And I see our dean, Ayman El-Mohandes here from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Public Policy, as well as the Borough of Manhattan Community Colleges programs for allied health education and nursing.

So, it's going to be transformative for CUNY, but also transformative for this neighborhood. And I can tell you for us at Hunter College, this will be the most transformative project for our campus in 40 years.

So, this has been a team effort with lots of moving parts. You see the team behind me and there's a full team at CUNY as well. We are among those moving parts and we will get it done. Thank you everyone for coming here today and sharing in this wonderful announcement.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you, President Kirschner. So, from the beginning, this has been a true collaboration with our colleagues at the state and Governor Hochul. And so I'm very pleased to invite a very key partner in all of this.

And I've known Liz for a very long time. She has been so instrumental in making connections across different industries, in particular, life sciences between industry and community. So, the executive vice president of Small Business and Technology Development at Empire State Development Corp, Liz Lusskin.

Elizabeth Lusskin, Executive Vice President, Small Business and Technology Development, Empire State Development: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. I'm thrilled to be here today on behalf of Governor Kathy Hochul and Empire State Development President Hope Knight to celebrate the next step in this historic project.

I want to acknowledge Mayor Adams, the Get stuff done mayor, Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer, President Kimball and all the fabulous dignitaries and elected officials here. My time is short, so I won't name everybody, but thank you, thank you, thank you.

SPARCs Kips Bay is a groundbreaking jobs and education hub that will nurture the next generation of life science pioneers. Under the leadership of Kathy Hochul and Mayor Adams, so much of what New York does in economic development is building for the future.

It's investing in next generation industries to generate sustainable economic growth and create jobs. The life science industry is a perfect example as well as being a perfect example of the strong partnership between New York City and New York state.

And we have been proud to partner with the mayor. And on this shared vision. Just last month, we jointly announced the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub New York that will leverage nearly $300 million put in public and private investment to establish a biomedical research hub here in New York. We couldn't be more excited about that.

And last March, Governor Hochul unveiled the $50 million lab of the future here in Midtown that is using AI to make the preclinical drug discovery process faster, more data-driven and cost-effective. And last year, Governor Hochul and the mayor announced the completion of another joint project, the Taystee Lab Building, a state-of-the-art research facility in Harlem that will provide infrastructure needed for groundbreaking discoveries.

Investments like these from New York State and New York City are helping spur innovation, discover life-saving therapies and create jobs. Today, New York is leading the way as a global hub for research and development and commercialization in the life science industries. And SPARC Kips Bay will serve as yet another catalyst to grow the field and provide new education and career pathways for New York.

And I should just say my first meaningful high school internship was nearby in one of those labs doing very early DNA sequencing. So, it's all coming back under Governor Hochul's leadership and the mayors. And working closely with the mayor and our partners in New York City, we are continuing to make historic targeted investments in life sciences.

I want to thank our partners in the city and CUNY for their commitment to the project and for growing this critical sector in New York. And we look forward so much to working together to [make] this master plan a reality. Thank you. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you so much, Liz. Now, we, of course, could not get this done without the support and leadership of our partners in elected office. And so it is my pleasure to introduce the dean of the Congressional Delegation, Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler: Well, thank you very much. Good morning, everyone. The East Side is already home to many of the world's top healthcare institutions. With the construction of the Kips Bay Science Park and Research Campus, we will help cultivate the next generation of leaders in the life sciences and public health. With today's announcement of the Kips Bay Master Plan, we are another step closer to making this transformational jobs and educational hub for life sciences a reality.

I applaud the New York City Economic Development Corporation for their work to integrate the surrounding community and their proposal with formation of a community task force that will engage with local leaders, advocates and residents to meet the needs of the neighborhoods as this vision comes to life.

I look forward to working alongside all of you as we create thousands of good paying jobs in this growing industry by drawing in the pipeline of diverse talent from the neighborhood’s many public schools and universities. Together we will make Kips Bay the anchor of life sciences research for the future, and we'll make New York a continuing anchor for the life sciences in the world. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you, Congressman. The next person I'd like to introduce is really key to ensuring this project, not just advances, but really comes to fruition in just a few short years. But before I do that, I want to acknowledge that we have here the chair of the City Planning Commission, Dan Garodnick, who will also be instrumental to getting this done, but also obviously serve this district previously as councilmember.

And there's a version of this story that we wouldn't be here today if he had not negotiated so well to make sure that the right vision got implemented on this site. But please join me in welcoming the current councilmember, really a champion of so many important initiatives that drive growth, not just in this district, but across the city. Councilmember Keith Powers.

City Councilmember Keith Powers: Thank you. I'll be the first to say thank you to Dan Garodnick. Nice to see you. Thank you to everyone for being here today. We were here not terribly long ago to talk about the… To announce this and to talk about what this could be.

And now today we're seeing even more of what will be coming to the City Council at some point in time that will be a big vision for this city. And there's a couple things I want to note here. One is, this is an opportunity alongside other projects here in the city for New York City to be the global leader in life sciences and education and research.

And this is not a small deal here. This is a big opportunity for the city to become the leader in jobs research and life sciences. And that vision is here with us today. And it's not just creating the jobs, it's creating the pipeline to those jobs.

So, when a student first opens a biology textbook all the way to when they achieve the next big medical breakthrough, all that can take place right where we're standing here today. And it's not going to be just for bay. It is going to be citywide and even nationwide the impact of what we're doing here today.

And as the councilmember who… I have a couple relationships to this place. One is my mom went to Hunter and lived in the dorms here and knows how special this place is and became a nurse here.

Second, as I live right here and walked past here all the time and know how important this block is, this whole corridor is, to the city and to our medical research here. And it's great to see a commitment here from the city and from the state to double down on our life science sector and to create the infrastructure and connections to foster innovation and transformation because these buildings are old and they do deserve not only a cosmetic facelift, they deserve a purpose facelift here as well and to meet the times that we're in.

So, as the mayor said, this is where we might find the next vaccine, certainly where we're going to create leaders in research here for the city, and it's going to represent a lot of good jobs from the day we start taking these buildings down and building them up. And that's where… Gary is here.

And we're always committed to creating good paying jobs as part of that. So, the people that are going to get their education here go out into the world, the people who are going to work here. So, I just want to restate my thanks to the mayor, to the governor, to the whole team for their vision here.

And I also want to welcome and thanks all the community leaders here with us today. The community boards, Waterside Tenants Association, Stuyvesant Town Tenants Association because they are critical to making sure this project gets done and done in the right way as well.

And today's announcement to create a community process for them to participate in, it shouldn't be understated either. They're a really big part of that. So, thank you to everyone and I look forward to getting this done. Thanks.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you, councilmember. Now, finally, our last speaker will really highlight that this is not just about the science, not just about industry growth, but it is certainly about jobs. And there's probably no one who, when I see them, it's like, oh, they're jobs that are coming to whatever this event or announcement is.

But before that, I also want to acknowledge that there's someone who's making sure that we connect those dots across city government, not just public schools, not just with our partners at CUNY, but across all of the workforce development offices in city government. I just want to acknowledge Abby Jo Sigal from the Mayor's Office of Talent and Workforce Development.

Thank you, Abby, for all of your work. But as I mentioned, it's so great to be joined by the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council, Gary LaBarbera.

Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York: Thank you. We got a crew here. So, thank you very much, deputy mayor. I too want to thank Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul for where we are today with this project. And in particular, I want to also acknowledge deputy mayor and Andrew Kimball.

This project not only represents, again, life sciences, but this project represents opportunity in the construction industry. And I'm very pleased to announce that EDC and really with the governor's involvement and deputy mayor's involvement, has committed not only to this project, but to other projects as well.

This project will be built under a project labor agreement, which will ensure — big deal, big deal — which will in fact ensure those very important family sustaining careers in the construction industry. One thing I want to say to the mayor in his remarks when he talked about being in Israel and we're trying to attract global talent to New York City, and that's absolutely true, but I want to assure the mayor that the best global talent in the construction industry is right here with the Union Apprentice programs and union tradesmen and women right here in New York City. So, I just want to say that we are really looking forward to working closely with the mayor, with EDC, getting this through the finish line and beginning construction.

And I will say to you that you have my commitment and the entire commitment of the New York City Building Trades Council that we will build a project that you'll be very happy with, proud of and it will be on budget and on time, because it'll be built with union trades men and women. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: And it is always good to be in a room with the trays and carpenter, but most importantly, a New York Mets fan. Thank you. Open up to a few on topics on this.

Question: Yes, mayor.

Mayor Adams: Hey Bernadette.

Question: So, I'm just reading a letter from the CUNY chancellor last year, last October, and he says that CUNY will no longer have [inaudible] 3.3 million to [inaudible]. And that lease money goes to EDC.

You just announced budget cuts yesterday. I know that money [inaudible] that goes from the state [inaudible], wondering if this is a wise move that… I know this plan has been in place for a while, but can the city and state afford this, especially with economic headwinds?

Mayor Adams: Yes. And actually, during economic challenges and difficult times, we have to find new ways of making the right investment, not the right spending, but the right investment.

This project is going to attract talent, it's going to attract new jobs, it's going to attract investment, it's going to attract innovation. So, we should always look at, it's always important to say, do you spend wisely to ensure that you could have the economic growth you need for the future?

That was the difficulty of the operation that OMB had to carry out. We looked around to say, when we have to make these efficiency cuts, do we do it without hurting productivity and hurting growth? And I take my hat off to Jacques Jiha, the directive of OMB and the entire team that went through this painful exercise of how do we not decimate low-income New Yorkers? How do we ensure we don't stop our innovation and growth? And this is an example of that.

Even the day after the cuts, we're not saying we're taking our foot off the gas. We have to move our city forward. As Gary stated, if we would have killed this project, we would've killed union, good, paid middle class jobs. That makes no sense. So, we can't do that in the process. Okay. Thank you. Thank you.

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