“Brooklyn: Fairer Today and Stronger Tomorrow.” That was the motto put forth today by James Patchett, president and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC), who spoke of the borough’s remarkable economic boom but also of the remaining inequities among its residents.
“Brooklyn’s transformation into a bastion of creativity and leader of industry will be remembered as one of the most dramatic urban renaissances in history,” he said a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce event at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. “But we know that, as part of this rejuvenation, there’s still more work to be done. Today, it is the city’s job to promote continued growth in the borough while ensuring every single New Yorker can partake in this prosperity.”
In his address, Patchett pointed out some of the borough’s impressive advancements within the last few years. “From 2010 to 2017, Brooklyn’s population grew by 140,000 residents. That’s like the entire population of Savannah, Ga., moving into Brooklyn in the last seven years. The population is also becoming more educated. In that same period, the number of people with advanced degrees has grown by 26%,” said Patchett.
Yet among all the people moving in and moving up, many have been left behind, he said. “For every new high-rise neighborhood in Williamsburg, there’s a family struggling to stay in their neighborhood. For every growing startup in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, there’s a low-wage worker who doesn’t know their place in the new economy,” said.
Patchett explained how the non-profit corporation he leads, the city’s official economy-boosting engine, is investing in projects to develop well-paying jobs and affordable housing. “We believe that everyone should be able to take part in this remarkable period of growth,” he said. “And we also believe that we have a responsibility to build a resilient economy for future generations. That’s why today we’re making historic investments in affordable housing, critical infrastructure and 21st century manufacturing.”
Two Brooklyn neighborhoods that Patchett said the NYCEDC is currently focusing on are Coney Island and Sunset Park. “After decades of hard times, in 2009, the Bloomberg Administration rezoned [Coney Island] with two goals in mind: bring the old Coney Island back to its prime and improve the quality of life for the residents who live there. Today, we are building on this foundation and are making historic investments.” In addition to new housing and new commercial spaces, the area will also be receiving upgraded streets and sewers.
In Sunset Park, the NYCEDC has focused on the creation of well-paying manufacturing jobs. “Today over 3,800 people work in the Brooklyn Army Terminal,” he said, citing companies manufacturing everything from salad dressing to 3D-printed clothes.
“We’re not moving to forward if Brooklynites and other fellow New Yorkers are being left out,” he said. “The challenge that many of our residents face are real. From struggling pay to rising rents to being displaced, to wondering how they can get a job without a traditional education, this cannot continue. We are leveraging every economic development tool that we have to give more New Yorkers and more Brooklynites a leg up. We’re thinking smart, we’re planning ahead, and we’re making historic investments.”–By Arden Phillips