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Today, New York is a tale of two cities. On Wall Street, life couldn’t be better. A recent study report found New York City is home to more than 389,000 millionaires. We have three times as many millionaires as Los Angeles — more, in fact, than Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston combined,1 with 5% of our city’s population able to call themselves millionaires. Yet also in New York, one-in-five New Yorkers lives in poverty. When you include those who earn less than 150% of the poverty threshold, nearly half of all New Yorkers live near or below the poverty level.2 Economic development policies in recent decades in New York City have been tilted towards creating jobs for highly-educated professionals and growth in service sectors that produce jobs that, under present conditions, fail to pay a living wage. As the Partnership for New York City observed last month, “job growth is primarily in high-wage and low-wage categories. The city is experiencing a loss of middlewage jobs and middle class households.”3 To its credit, the Bloomberg administration has taken steps to move the city from dependence on the socalled FIRE (financial, insurance, and real estate) sectors to expand support for high-tech and other high “creative capital” clusters like media and fashion. The growth of the high-tech industry has been the best reflection of that shift in priorities. New York City IT jobs grew 60% from 2003 to 2012 and more tech companies are choosing to relocate to the city from 2 other places.4 Cornell NYC Tech, to be located on Roosevelt Island, is a symbol of new growth for creative capital industries and the goal of using applied sciences to act as a commercial incubator for new business growth in the city.5 However, while many of these Bloomberg administration initiatives are welcome, they have failed to improve the lives of most New Yorkers. A recent report by Borough President Scott Stringer, Startup City, highlighted both the gains in the tech sector and the gaps in public policy that have left most communities out. 6 Our other industry sectors and small businesses — particularly those in the outer boroughs — are, at best, ignored, and at worst, under siege by policy decisions of the Bloomberg administration. A significant portion of high-wage jobs created in the recovery have gone to talent recruited to the city — rather than the large unemployed population already in our neighborhoods. Take health care: New York State has recruited 16,000 overseas-trained nurses to work in NYC – a glaring failure to create health care career paths for NYC residents.7 The result of the lack of jobs for many native New Yorkers: 15.8% of New Yorkers are estimated to be without a job or involuntarily working part-time, nearly double the proportion in 2007. 8 NYC’s poverty rate is 22% higher than when Mayor Bloomberg took office. Median income declined 6% between 2008 and 2011.9 The City needs an economic development policy that
balances investments in the so-called knowledge economy — maintaining our leadership as a magnet for global talent — with catalytic support for entrepreneurs in new and neglected industries of the five boroughs, real investments in creating career paths for indigenous New Yorkers and a focus on raising wages for all workers in the city. The prospect of a city without a middle-class is too frightening to do otherwise. We need to build a diversified economy in all boroughs & create jobs for all New Yorkers. We need a dramatic change that focuses on connecting New Yorkers to jobs in the new knowledge economy, while at the same time, improving the quality of traditional service, tourism, hospitality, retail and manufacturing jobs and work with small business leaders in the whole array of industry clusters scattered across the boroughs. To get there, the Public Advocate is proposing that:
mentoring, apprenticeships and good jobs. The City should work with industry clusters to identify their workforce needs, and connect job-seeking New Yorkers with sponsored training and education programs that lead to jobs.
The City should establish a revolving loan fund
for small and growing neighborhood businesses and create economic job creation hubs in every neighborhood to act as loan officers. their services and goods to larger institutions in New York, including the City government itself, as well as supporting coordinated export strategies outside the City. The ticketing war on mom-and-pop shops needs to end; instead, the City should be providing the training and support for small businesses to navigate licensing and regulatory requirements, develop the business plans, secure the financing, and choose the business entity form that will allow them to grow into the future. emphasize improving the quality of low-wage service jobs. Sometimes the most effective economic development tool is a larger paycheck. Every extra dollar taken home is money spent at the local bodega, at the local barbershop or salon, and for other local services, creating a virtuous cycle of local job creation. That means ensuring security for all workers: a living wage for more New Yorkers, stopping wage theft prevalent in low-wage industries, and establishing responsible contracting rules to leverage the City’s potential to improve job quality for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
The City should help small businesses market
The City should further reform and reduce
economic development subsidies aimed at individual companies like Fresh Direct and instead invest in a 21st century workforce development system and redirect these economic development dollars into investments in emerging sectors and neighborhood entrepreneurs. University of New York (CUNY) to its historic role as the preeminent pathway to opportunity for a new generation of immigrant and low-income New Yorkers. A streamlined workforce development system should link students in high school and university directly to workplace
The City’s economic development policy should
The City should reinvest and restore the City
1. REPLACE WASTEFUL TAX EXPENDITURES AND CORPORATE RETENTION DEALS WITH A NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOCUS
New York City currently spends around $4 billion every year in the name of economic development — between $500 million and $1 billion in operating budget outlays, $3 billion in tax expenditures, and several hundred million in capital budget outlays to support economic development. Tax expenditures include exemptions and abatements for residential, industrial, and commercial development, discretionary tax reductions offered to specific projects, reductions on city business and income taxes for particular industries and activities, and taxexempt financing. Tax expenditures have been growing much faster than the overall tax base: business tax expenditures grew 192% since 2001, even as tax collections rose only 90%.10 While some of this economic development inducement has been effective, far too much has gone towards wasteful subsidies of individual companies. In a 2004 deal, Bank of America, the nations’ second largest commercial bank, received more than $42 million in City subsidies in a deal for midtown Manhattan office space.11 In 2005, Goldman Sachs’ downtown headquarters was the beneficiary of a $115 million in sales and utility tax payments, and annual property tax discount of $9 million every year. 12 More recently the City's Industrial Development Agency offered $74 million in City tax breaks to Fresh Direct to expand their presence in the Bronx after the company pitted New Jersey against New York to extract a maximum subsidy.13 Even the Partnership for New York City, New York City’s high profile business advocacy group, 4 describes current NYC economic development incentives as “obsolete” and “poorly targeted.”14 End a Notorious Example of Poorly Targeted Incentives: The Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program One notorious example of New York City’s poorly targeted economic development incentives is the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program (ICIP), recently replaced by the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP). These programs provide tax breaks for rehabs or new construction of industrial, commercial, or mixed-use structures in designated areas. Subsidies flow overwhelmingly to office buildings and commercial retail projects, with only 9% of the exemptions and 3% of the value going to factories. 15 Manhattan properties account for the largest share of ICIP value by borough (35%),16 and while ICAP reduced the eligibility of Manhattan property in recent years, large Manhattan commercial buildings can still receive tax breaks for renovation17 or the construction of “smart buildings.” 18 It’s questionable whether most of these subsidies are necessary to induce any economic activity at all. According to a 2007 study by NYCEDC, more than 75% of the projects receiving subsidies, worth over $2.8 billion, would have gone ahead even in the absence of a subsidy.19
In its current form, the ICAP program isn’t worth saving and should be eliminated and replaced with a new less expensive, more narrowly targeted incentive program that meets the following criteria:
does not provide subsidy for projects in the
central business district in Manhattan.
targets emerging sectors and non-retail
commercial and industrial investment in the outer boroughs. deprive City of revenue beyond what is necessary to induce desired economic activity.
expenditures and other subsidies, including those administered through state authorities. This reduction would be performed in conjunction with the creation of a new “Unified Development Budget,” to replace the alphabet soup of existing and conflicting subsidy programs which would require uniform reporting requirements, including job creation metrics, for each tax expenditure and economic development incentive. To guide these reductions, City officials should perform an analysis of each tax break and economic development incentive to determine what percentage of projects and investments would have occurred absent the subsidy. The City should ensure development in high-demand areas remains on the tax rolls and resist pressure from large developers requesting tax exemptions. Use the Money Saved for a Broader Economic Development Agenda Through reform of the current wide range of economic development programs — and elimination of programs with notoriously weak payoffs like ICIP and its successor ICAP – the City should be able to reduce use of business tax expenditures and other subsidies, and free up $250 million per year – a conservative target that is currently less than 5% of New York’s tax expenditure budget. As the rest of this paper argues, what the City needs is not slightly more focused tax giveaways but instead a much broader economic development agenda which shifts the focus from investing in retention deals to investing in the City workforce and neighborhood industry sectors, which will ultimately sustain the economy into the future.
has a reasonable benefit period which does not requires LEED certification or a city-certified
equivalent for benefits for the construction of new buildings. in appreciating areas.
does not provide “inflation protection” for property requires all developments to make a showing of
need demonstrating that the project would not be viable absent a property tax exemption.
In addition, the City should increase auditing of the 7,240 existing ICIP and ICAP beneficiaries who receive $662 million in tax breaks each year to ensure that the use of the property remains eligible for exemption.20 A 2005 audit by the New York City Comptroller found that 14% of a random sample of current ICIP beneficiary projects was “being used partly or entirely for ineligible purposes.”21 Eliminate Wasteful Economic Development Tax Expenditures, saving the City at least $250 Million per Year Beyond reforming ICAP, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is proposing a broad-based reform of tax
2. NEW YORK JOBS FOR NEW YORKERS: CREATE A WORLD-CLASS EDUCATION, TRAINING AND JOB PLACEMENT SYSTEM
The Bloomberg administration has an admirable record in building a city attractive to educated workers. New York City gained 224,000 college age graduates in the 25-34 year old age group between 2000 and 2010, a stark turnaround from the loss of college graduates during the 1990s. Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on creating quality public space, greening and upgrading the city’s transportation infrastructure, and improving its attractiveness to creative workers has played a significant role in this success. Unfortunately, analysts estimate that anywhere from 65% to as much as 98% of these new collegeeducated workers grew up outside the City. 22 The failure of New York to “produce” its own educated workers is depriving innumerable young and unemployed New Yorkers of even the hope of improving their lives. Aside from a few worthy initiatives too focused on “job readiness,” in the words of the Center on an Urban Future, “the Bloomberg administration has had only limited focus on job training and building the skills of the city’s labor force.”23 Shifting the focus of workforce development to creating an education and training system that connects youth and the unemployed directly to real jobs has to be one of the top priorities of the next mayor. The City needs to better connect our public education system, our workforce training systems and our economic development programs to create a far more cohesive system that educates and trains people for today’s jobs and the jobs of the future. 6 Restore CUNY as the Central Gateway to a Quality Education and a Good Job Decades of state and city disinvestment have undermined CUNY’s historic role as a stepping-stone to the middle class for more than a generation of working class youth — and recent cuts since 2008 have done even more damage. In the last two decades (from FY 1990/1991 to FY 2010/11), when adjusted for inflation and FTE enrollment, direct state aid by the state to CUNY senior colleges declined by 35.4%, while aid to CUNY community colleges declined by 32.7%.24 We need to reinvest the proceeds of reforming New York’s economic development subsidy programs to begin to restore the cuts to CUNY over the past decade and put CUNY on a more solid footing to provide high quality and affordable higher education for all New Yorkers. The City must also strengthen CUNY programs that can bring under-represented populations into technology and other key, high-paying sectors of the New York economy. A good example is Borough President Scott Stringer’s proposal for what he calls STEM Cell, an initiative to enroll a wide range of high school graduates in two-year STEM degree programs at CUNY in order to place them in the “middle skill” jobs in the city’s tech industry. 25 In addition, as Borough President Stringer proposed, the City, in conjunction with New York State, should offer a scholarship to students in tech fields if they promise
to stay in New York City to work or start a business for five years after graduation. The City should have a goal that within eight years, the majority of skilled technology-related jobs in New York City are hiring those educated in New York City schools because our schools and education programs are turning out desirable, highly qualified applicants. We need to ensure that a tech industry boom for New York is also an employment opportunity for its young people. Create an Integrated Training and Job Placement System Connecting Career and Technical Education High Schools, CUNY, Economic Development Hubs, and Businesses A restored CUNY can become the centerpiece of an education and training system that aligns job creation in industry sectors with education in our public schools, specialized training at CUNY, and apprenticeship programs for non-college bound youth and adults. Particularly in his last term, the Bloomberg administration did oversee an expansion of secondary and post-secondary educational systems, including new, dedicated Career and Technical Education (CTE) high schools and vocationally oriented degree programs at CUNY. Yet too many CTE schools are not aligned with projected industry growth sectors, as the Public Advocate detailed in a 2012 report, and no data is officially published tracking whether CTE students are finding jobs in their desired field. 26 The City should expand CTE programs to bring them in line with job projections and industry workforce demands. City agencies and economic development hubs should develop internships and apprenticeships and, where possible, establish commitments by businesses to hire graduates of CTE and related CUNY programs. No one should graduate from any CTE or CUNY program without a plan to get a job and the City should track the success or failure of each program in delivering relevant jobs for graduates.
Ensure Lower-Skilled Workers Have Access to Comprehensive Training, Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs If workforce development programs for students and higher-skilled workers are often uncoordinated, those for lower-skilled workers often have almost no “system” at all. As one national report put in, job training programs for less skilled workers are “a collection of programs and initiatives, each with its own different governance, funding streams, rules, and culture.”28 The City should bring local business, education, community, labor and agency leaders together to create an integrated local workforce development and job placement systems. The City should work with stakeholders in each industry sector to develop shared funding streams to meet their workforce needs and upgrade skills across each sector. A universal workforce development database should track provider and agency performance, as well as individual outcomes for every person using city services, to ensure there is no “wrong door” for job seekers, workers and businesses. Community-based organizations have pioneered some of the most effective and innovative programs for placing less skilled workers, or workers of special populations like the recently incarcerated or the physically disabled in jobs, but they often lack both consistent funding or the scale needed for broader impact. The City should more effectively integrate their work into city-based programs like Workforce1, via referrals and a reformed compensation system. The City should also work to replicate in new sectors successful industry-linked training and apprenticeship models, such as the GPRO program29, which brings together labor unions, government officials, business leaders, environmentalists and CUNY educators to train the workers who build, renovate, and maintain buildings in principles of sustainability and construction techniques, how to use resources more efficiently, and how to make buildings healthier for occupants. Other key models to replicate include the Bronx-based Per Scholas program 30 , which trains and places between 400 and 500 low-income youth 7
and adults in entry-level information technology jobs, and the Brooklyn Networks program 31 which works with large companies like Time Warner Cable to provide industry-certified training in blue- and graycollar jobs in telecommunications data cabling. Train 16,000 New Yorkers for Nursing Positions and Create Comprehensive Career Pathways in the Health Sector Health care will remain one of the largest sources of existing and new jobs in New York. There are over 600,000 private-sector jobs in the health and social services field in New York City, the second largest private industry by employment after professional and business services. 32 Nationally, most of the fastest growing occupations are medically related in some way, from lower-skilled home health aides to physician assistants to medical scientists.33 New Yorkers should be trained for the estimated 16,000 nurse positions currently held by overseastrained temporary guest workers, so that within eight years, graduates of New York’s public high schools and CUNY are filling all available RN jobs.34 More comprehensively, the City should create long-term job opportunities for training and for all health care workers in the industry to upgrade their skills and income. Currently, the City is not meeting that challenge. As the Public Advocate documented in his report on CTE schools last year, jobs in health science will increase 17% by 2018, yet this career cluster is ranked fifth in number of programs offered in New York City schools. 35 There are encouraging new models such as the 650-student Health, Education and Research Occupations (HERO) High School, where students can earn an associate degree and have opportunities for work experience at Montefiore Medical Center, which can translate when they graduate into employment as registered nurses or community health workers. 36 This kind of model needs to be replicated across the health sector. New York should also play a critical role at the juncture of health care and information technology. Mobile health apps alone were expected to bring in 8
$1.3 billion in revenues in 2012 and, as highlighted in Borough President Stringer’s report on the technology sector, the last year saw the creation of the City’s first consumer health and wellness incubator and the creation of the New York Digital Health Accelerator.37 New York residents should be provided the training to benefit and be placed in new jobs created in this sector. Help Manufacturing Thrive In New York City, Including Nurturing the Emerging Advanced Manufacturing Sector Manufacturing remains a vital part of the New York City economy and provides living wage jobs for 76,000 workers, many of them without a college education. The Bloomberg Administration has offered some support to the industrial sector, from creating an “industrial” desk at the Economic Development Corporation and creating a special program to finance and support food manufacturers, to support for the manufacturing incubator in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. But these modest measures have been inadequate to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs: Since 2000, the City has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs, nearly 30,000 in Brooklyn alone.38 There are a number of steps the City can take to build on that program, including (1) reforming the zoning code to preserve the physical integrity of Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) from encroachment by superstores, hotels offices in industrial areas; (2) stopping illegal residential conversions of industrial areas; and (3) supporting individual IBZs with better infrastructure and workforce development planning. The City should also replicate the success of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in other industrial areas owned and managed by the City.39 New York City innovators have been at the heart of the rise of so-called “3D printing”, where small batch manufacturing will be increasingly possible. A manufacturing technology that places a premium on innovation, rather than access to mass-scale industrial space, plays to the City’s strengths and with the right economic development policy, can be an additional source of good jobs in the future.40
Ensure that All Public Contracts, Particularly Construction Projects, Promote Workforce Development and Job Placement for Low-income Residents Construction projects remain a source of good jobs for workers and continuing to open them up to lowincome and minority employees should be a priority. New York state law contains explicit authority for local governments to adopt so-called Apprenticeship Utilization Requirements (AURs), which stipulates that contractors hire apprentices to perform a certain percentage of labor hours on a given publicly funded project.41 Every major construction project or other service procurement by the City should include requirements that some percentage of the work include an apprenticeship component, drawing
primarily on apprenticeships from the neighborhood where the work is to be performed. This would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in workforce development support for the City’s unemployed and low-income workers. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), for example, is required under federal law to use federal housing funds it receives to maximize economic opportunities for low-income New Yorkers, particularly public housing and voucher residents. The City should adopt the recommendations of the Community Service Society to encourage more agencies receiving housing funds to create apprenticeship programs and open up jobs with new city-funded construction projects to NYCHA residents. In addition, NYCHA should open up more of their job hiring to Section 8 voucher residents.42
3. USE SECTORAL STRATEGIES TO DIVERSIFY NYC’S ECONOMIC BASE AND BRING JOBS TO NEIGHBORHOODS IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS
The Bloomberg economic development team has made identifying industry clusters an important part of their work. Many of these clusters have given their own “industry desk” at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. However, “the bulk of these new programs have benefited college educated entrepreneurs in fields such as technology, fashion and media,” argues the Center for an Urban Future in a recent report. “Few of NYCEDC’s programs have focused on supporting low-income, native-born entrepreneurs.”43 The City should add more focus on the strengths of the other four boroughs, expanding and strengthening existing City programs to support: the food processing industry in Brooklyn serving our City’s diverse culinary communities, the small export firms tied to the two major airports in Queens, health services in the Bronx, the maritime services industry centered in Staten Island, and all the other smaller clusters of firms across the five boroughs. We want to provide the support that can grow jobs and raise wages in industries too long dismissed as low-wage backwaters. Create Economic Development Hubs in Every Neighborhood to Coordinate Local Job Creation Efforts No one model can be applied to every industry; each requires active engagement with the stakeholders in that industry and neighborhood. In recent years, the 10 City’s economic development resources have failed to reach most neighborhoods and the industries tied to those neighborhoods. The City should work with stakeholders across the hundreds of thousands of businesses and diversity of industry clusters in our neighborhoods to assess how different industry clusters functions, where their supply chains go, what financing is available, where they recruit employees, and what services and support will help each business grow and become a high-productivity, high-wage part of the city economy.
The City should establish Economic Development hubs in every neighborhood throughout the City to help map the economic assets, industries, human resources and needs in each community and how the businesses in that community fit within the larger New York City economy—and how they could participate more expansively with the proper economic support. By having economic development staff working and living in those neighborhoods, walking the streets daily, and meeting with local business, community and educational leaders, the City would develop an industry map as seen from the neighborhoods of the City, not just from a central Manhattan desk. In Pennsylvania, which has one of the most advanced systems of industry partnership programs in the country, their industry cluster program actively engages with and serves more than 6,000 employers and tens of thousands of employees
in different industry clusters.45 Establish New Revolving Loan Funds; Use Local Economic Hubs as “Loan Officers” for Targeting Loans for Neighborhood Entrepreneurs and Neglected Industry Clusters Debt financing is the lifeblood of most small businesses, yet the last decade has seen nearly a 10% decline in small business lending as a total of all business lending. 46 Especially in the wake of the financial crisis, banks have moved away from commercial loans, leaving businesses with fewer options for startup and expansion capital. This is a particular barrier for low-income entrepreneurs, who have fewer options for loans from family and friends to get financial support.47 New York City should establish new revolving loan funds targeting low-income neighborhoods that support growing industry sectors, with neighborhood economic development hubs acting as “loan officers” to identify and promote promising local candidates for loans in partnership with private lenders interested in co-investing. The NYCEDC already administers a small federally-funded loan program called the New Markets Revolving Loan Fund. Chicago offers loans of up to $50,000 through local partners,48 and Kansas City, Missouri targets a third of its business microlending to distressed areas of that city.49 Through its pensions, the City offers loans for housing and some infrastructure, but the City should use both existing economic development funds and pension funds to create significant funding for these neighborhood revolving loan funds. The City should help local entrepreneurs to leverage any City money to gain additional state, federal and private financing. Use Portion of City Pension Funds to Provide Equity Capital for Neighborhood Businesses, including Strategic Support for Complementary Firms in Industry Clusters In helping innovative businesses move to the next level of growth, equity capital in the form of seed capital and early and middle stage financing is often critical for making industrial strategies succeed. 11
Complementary firms can be supported in tandem to strengthen supply networks and increase the overall success of the sector. A number of states have strong in-state venture capital and equity support programs, including New York State’s own in-state investment program which has supported 224 companies with $615 million as of 2012.50 Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Maine and Rhode Island all have a track record investing taxpayer funds in pre-seed and seed/early stage small businesses for economic development purposes.51 At the city and regional level, the Bay Area Family of Funds has combined both private and public-sector investors into regional initiatives to promote business growth in low-income communities.
New York City itself should dedicate a small portion of its pension fund to venture capital investments, in the form a new NYC Innovation Equity Fund, with recommendations from local economic development hubs and private sector leaders helping to identify both investment candidates and sector investment strategies to grow groups of firms within neighborhood and citywide industry clusters. Create a Job Creation Coordinator in the Mayor’s office to Coordinate All Crossdepartment Job Creation and Workforce Development Efforts Even as more frontline economic development staff are decentralized to neighborhoods across the City, the sprawling, balkanized array of city programs to help job seekers and their potential employers needs to be more cohesive, better coordinated and more fully integrated. Oversight of neighborhood economic development hubs, citywide industry cluster initiatives, financing and technical assistance, and workforce development initiatives should be overseen by a Job Creation Coordinator, answerable to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, along the lines of the Chief Talent Officer position recommended by the Partnership for New York City.53 The Job Creation Coordinator will also have responsibility for integrating educational programs
with the multiple city workforce development programs, which serve roughly 700,000 people each year 54 across thirty-three programs and eleven agencies. 55 This would encourage greater coordination and better align education and workforce development with actual job creation and
hiring decisions. This position would ensure that economic development dollars are being spent in sync with how workforce systems are being designed and in how infrastructure investments are being deployed.
4. CULTIVATE ENTREPRENEURS AND HELP SMALL BUSINESSES THRIVE AND GROW
Of the 220,000 businesses in New York City, 195,000 or 88% have fewer than 20 employees. 56 Local businesses keep more than three times the percentage of profits in their local community compared to larger firms. 57 They also are more likely to do business with other local firms and less likely to relocate jobs. It makes sense to focus City financial and technical support on small businesses, which will in turn spur growth and development of other local firms and workers. And by focusing on neighborhood businesses to help them get better trained workers who are more productive and better paid, we will be helping inject more employee and business spending into the local communities that need it the most. End the Fine Assault on Small Businesses and Instead Help Local Businesses Navigate Licensing, Regulatory and Other Requirements to Build their Businesses City-issued fines, when issued excessively or inconsistently, have a detrimental impact on small businesses, while not meaningfully upholding public safety and consumer protection goals. A November 2011 report from the Public Advocate’s office on reducing red tape for small businesses uncovered a pattern of overzealous enforcement.58 Economic development hubs in the neighborhood should proactively help businesses navigate regulatory requirements from day-one of building 13 their businesses, developing business plans, choosing business entity forms, complying with wage and labor laws, and avoiding violations in the first place. They can assist businesses in fixing violations that do occur and support reasonable re-inspection cycles to assure compliance. The City needs to ease overzealous enforcement, should allow small business owners to contest violations online, by phone or by mail, as well as to develop tiered classifications of small business violations to better distinguish low-risk violations from those requiring immediate rectification and penalization. Promote Entrepreneurship Training at Economic Development Hubs, with a Particular Focus on Immigrant Entrepreneurs New York City’s Department of Small Business Services offers an admirable range of free courses in basic and advanced business topics, from marketing to business planning to finance. 59 However, as highlighted in a recent report by Borough President Scott Stringer, most SBS workshops and one-on-one trainings take place at SBS’s offices in Lower Manhattan — a long trip for business owners in the outer boroughs.60 For immigrant entrepreneurs, the barriers are even greater. A February 2012 survey by the Public Advocate’s office found that 92% of immigrant businesses reported receiving no services to start, sustain or grow their businesses — with 51% not even being aware of the services available to them.61
Given that immigrants start businesses at twice the rate of native-born citizens, 62 increasing support in those communities could have tremendous payoff in increasing employment throughout the City. Successful business support includes navigating rules and regulations, facilitating access to credit, and working to implement health insurance or other benefits for employees. The City should bring business services and entrepreneur classes to neighborhood economic development hubs, building on the work and expertise of NYC Business Solutions Centers, and integrate them into other workforce development and community services. The programs should target individuals thinking about starting a business in their neighborhoods, including those trying to transition from unemployment, who currently almost never use the City’s technical resources.63 Empower BIDS and Industry-Specific Networks to Negotiate Bulk Rates on Shared Services Big businesses are able to negotiate lower costs from suppliers for goods and services. NYC should work with small businesses in both neighborhood Business Improvement Districts and through clusters of small businesses in the same industry to negotiate lower telecommunications, healthcare or other shared services or products. A few innovative programs, such as new Industrial BIDs established by the City, are pursuing this strategy.64 Similar programs should be extended to other business groups throughout the City. Give Local Businesses a Real Shot at Government Contracts New York City is one of the largest contracting jurisdictions in the world. In Fiscal 2012, the City procured more than $10.5 billion worth of supplies, services and construction, through more than 46,000 transactions.65 Directing more of those contracts to local small businesses should be a high priority, given that more of those dollars will employ local workers and circulate the profits back into our neighborhoods. And the living wage jobs tied to public contracts can become models for encouraging 14
higher wages by other employers in those neighborhoods. Local economic development hubs should encourage and provide technical assistance for more small businesses to apply for government contracts and enter the City’s vendor database (VENDEX) so that City agencies will more easily identify and solicit bids from local businesses. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is also proposing that the City:
Require all bidding companies to submit a
detailed plan that articulates their local economic impact, including how they will subcontract to local businesses; and allow local businesses a “second chance” to match the lowest responsible bid;
Adopt a version of North Carolina’s bid model66 Divide contracts into the smallest practical
segments, without sacrificing coordination advantages, to give smaller businesses the ability to bid on the parts of the contract they have the capacity to supply; hospitals with the information on available small firm contractors to encourage them to support local businesses.
Provide public institutions like universities and
Expand and Reform the Minority/Womenowned Business Enterprises Program to Encompass More Contracts The City should broaden the racial and gender diversity of small businesses receiving contracts from the City. Minority-owned firms (MBEs) are more likely to locate in minority communities and employ minority workers.67 One study in fact found that where 60% of MBEs employ more than 75% minority employees, only 15% of white-owned firms match that percentage.68 Yet in FY 2012, a mere 5% of the $10.5 billion spent by the city went to firms covered by Local Law 129, the M/WBE program. 69 A survey by the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer found that a majority of those surveyed did not feel they had
adequate support in apply for contracts, while 44.4% of firms not bidding on contracts said the process was too time-consuming and hard to understand. 70 In an additional survey by the Public Advocate, many immigrant entrepreneurs did not even know the process for being certified as an M/WBE contractor.71 The City should broaden the impact of the M/WBE program by adding non-mayoral agencies to the
program, create mentorship programs with smaller, less experienced M/WBE firms being mentored by larger, more experienced firms in navigating the procurement process. Finally, the City should reform the M/WBE disparity study — which determines the targets for M/WBE procurement — to ensure the process and the final report is methodologically transparent and to ensure that no minority voices are cut out.
5. RAISE WAGE STANDARDS TO DRIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS
The most direct assistance city government can give to low-income neighborhoods is to help increase the wages of workers living there. Raising wage standards helps the workers themselves and their children, but it also helps drive spending and new local employment in those communities. As the Fiscal Policy Institute notes, “If these business owners see demand for their products and services rise, they have reason to hire more workers and expand their orders from suppliers. In this way, new spending creates a multiplier effect in the larger economy.”72 New York City can use a wide range of tools to help raise wage standards for those workers living in neighborhoods that will most benefit from that increased local spending. Having a job in New York City should mean being able to live and support a family in relative comfort and security. And let’s be clear -- wage protections that apply equally to all workers are good for the innovative firms that fuel long-term prosperity, who shouldn’t have to compete with low-road sweatshops which thrive on exploitation, not innovation. Require a Living Wage of $11.50 per Hour for All Businesses Receiving $1 Million or More of Public Funds The 2012 living wage law that City Council Speaker Quinn allowed to be enacted left out too many workers, carving out exceptions for 70,000 manufacturing jobs, the Hudson Yards development, grocery stores participating in the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program, and a range of other businesses. The living wage law 16 should be pegged to increases in the cost of living and covering any development receiving more than $1 million in City subsidies, increase wages for all employees in building receiving that level of subsidies, and remove the ability of the City Council to exempt projects as with the Hudson Yards project. Only non-profits, affordable housing, and small businesses with less than $3 million in annual revenue should be exempted. With a new Delta terminal opening at JFK with a number of contractors paying workers as low as $8 to $9 per hour, the City as the leaseholder for New York’s two airports, should work with the Port Authority to ensure that contractors at airports pay a living wage.73 Ensure All Businesses Receiving City Subsidies Have a Plan on How They Will Provide Healthcare As local businesses and non-profits prepare for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, businesses receiving City subsidies should provide clear plans on how they will provide health care for all their workers. Businesses struggling to understand how to implement the Affordable Care Act should receive technical support and training to maximum health care support for their employees through the economic development hubs or SBS trainings. Companies providing quality health plans should receive higher scores in the Vendex system, following the model of cities like El Paso, TX which rates quality health care as 10% of the overall score for a contract bid.74
Demand Local Wage Power for New York City to Set Local Minimum Wage Rates New York City should not have to wait on Albany to adjust upwards the minimum wage for private sector workers. San Jose, California last November became the sixth U.S. city with a municipal minimum-wage law. 76 Having local control over wage rates would give the City the ability to set the minimum wage rate at a level appropriate to the New York City’s high cost of living and worker productivity, rather than having the same rate as that of lower-cost upstate counties. Expand Paid Sick Days Policy to Include 300,000 New Yorkers Left Out of the Recent Law Despite current fears among some New York employers, sick leave policies provide a net benefit not just to employees but also to employers themselves through increased productivity, lower employee turnover, and reduced transmission of illness. 77 The Public Advocate earlier this year highlighted the advantages to the City, its workers and its employers from having paid sick days available to the 300,000 New Yorkers who are yet to be covered under City law.78 This one reason why a survey of San Francisco employers who had three years experience with their paid sick days law found two-thirds supported the law.79 Extending paid sick days to most New York workers was a great first step, but we need to work to close the exemptions in the recently passed law leave to ensure that fewer workers have to face a stark and unnecessary choice between losing needed income or taking care of themselves or a sick child. Deny Public Contracts, Public Subsidies, and Business Licenses to Employers that Repeatedly Violate Workplace Standards Enforcing wage standards is as important as enacting them on paper and the City can use its purchasing
power, economic development dollars and licensing laws as a powerful tool to raise wages for workers whose employers are illegally underpaying them. The City of Los Angeles, for example, has a "responsible contractor policy" that reviews potential bidders' history of labor, employment, environmental and workplace safety violations. Bidders must disclose and explain past and pending litigation, past contract suspensions, and outstanding judgments.80 A similar policy in New York City would not only help workers but would weed out law-breaking employers likely to defraud the City as well as their employees. To make the policy effective, the City should develop a New York City Labor Compliance Office to work in collaboration with the New York State Department of Labor and assist in auditing and identifying labor violations in New York City. VENDEX should then include a mechanism to suspend or deny City permits, contracts and licenses to applicants who have serious workplace violations. Create a Dedicated Legal Services Fund to Support Low-income Workers Challenging Wage Theft and Other Workplace Violations Currently, there are few legal services targeted to support the wage claims of low-wage, urban workers. Federally-funded legal services offices are barred under a 1996 federal law from engaging in class actions 81 , the most effective way for groups of workers to effectively engage in litigation to enforce their wage claims. A city-funded program to support legal services help for such wage claims would therefore play a unique role in stopping wage theft and raising wage standards in the City. If legal services lawyers funded under the initiative were allowed to recycle attorneys’ fees won in court back into the program, a relatively small initial grant for the wage theft protection fund could become largely selfsustaining over time.
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