May 20, 2014
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEDWyRQzWgg
Kyle Kimball, president of the Economic Development Corporation: Good morning everyone. My name is Kyle Kimball, I’m president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and I really have the great pleasure of welcoming you to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We are gathered at our – one of our city’s most iconic structures, that has a really compelling history. It was designed by Cass Gilbert, most famously of the Woolworth Building, in 1919. It was originally a 5-million-square-foot facility, a major military site through World War II. Three million soldiers, most famously Elvis, passed through here. In addition, 37 million tons of military supplies as well passed through here. It sat vacant for decades. The city purchased it for $1 in the ‘80s and began the $165 million process of renovations since then.
Now the Brooklyn Army Terminal is a facility – an industrial facility – housing over 100 companies, employing approximately 3,600 people. And really it’s a critically important site for industrial companies looking to grow and expand in New York City. And really, also companies operating in what we call manufacturing 2.0 space. So we’re really proud that that is home to a diverse array of companies, from furniture builders, small electronic manufacturers, jewelry makers, providing thousands of good quality jobs for New Yorkers. And not just any jobs, jobs in the industrial sector are well-paying and offer skills acquisition and training as well as the opportunity for advancement, which is also why we’re here today.
But that revival and reinvention did not happen magically. To date the city has spent a lot of money bringing that back to live. And as of today we are 99 percent of leasable space is now currently occupied. And Mayor de Blasio has recognized the success here and has called for $100 million in the executive budget to be invested in the transformation of the last 500,000 square feet at BAT, right here in this building, building A, taking it from raw, unusable space to fully leasable space that can support dozens more industrial companies and create thousands of jobs upon completion in 2017.
Including both quality jobs for the tenant and industrial companies as well, is area jobs induced by increased activity and foot traffic area at approximately 600 jobs as well. So there’s much more to do to maximize that potential and really connecting it further to the community, laying the infrastructure for this neighborhood, and continue to work with our partners down the way in Industry City and at Liberty View to make these facilities anchors of this community. In short, the future of BAT represents some of the city’s best work , leveraging public assets and creating economic opportunity for New Yorkers. So there’s really no better place than this to deliver good news about our workforce development efforts in creating, preserving good jobs for New Yorkers than we are right now. And with that, I’d like to introduce you to our mayor, who is fully dedicated to this [inaudible] cause, Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well I want to thank Kyle Kimball for his extraordinary leadership. And it’s been such a pleasure working with him over these last four or five months as we refocus our efforts to greatly expand the number of jobs in this city and make sure they’re higher-quality jobs. And you’re going to hear a lot about that today in terms of this task force.
A lot of people here to be thanked, and I want to do that up front before I go into my remarks. You’re going to hear in a moment from Steve Kempf, who is the CEO of Lee Spring Manufacturing right here on this site and is joining our taskforce. We want to thank him for that. I had an incredible tour with Alan Forman, the CEO of Altronix. Really inspiring is the word for it, to see what’s being done right here in Brooklyn, the way jobs are being created. And I dare say, the kind of jobs that we’re told all the time can’t exist in the United States of America, can’t exist in New York City, but they exist abundantly here at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. It’s incredible to see what’s being achieved – quality jobs for New Yorkers, right here. So Alan thank you for your commitment to New York City.
The agency heads who are here – led of course by the ever-courageous Alicia Glen, our deputy mayor for housing and economic development.
And I say courageous because I keep giving her more and more work to do and she keeps taking it. So I admire her for that. Our great commissioners – and you’re going to hear commissioners from what seem to be disparate agencies, but all of whom play a crucial role in terms of workforce development. And part of what you’re going to hear today, part of what’s so central about this task force is our commitment to bringing all these strands together into a single plan. I’m going to describe it in a moment. But I want to thank the commissioners who are going to play a crucial role – Maria Torres-Springer, the commissioner of Small Business Services; Bill Chong, the commissioner of the Department of Youth and Community Development; Steve Banks, the commissioner of the Human Resources Administration; and Katy Gaul-Stigge, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. All of them are going to play a key role in this effort. Let’s give them a round of applause to thank them.
As always, we are going to work closely with our elected officials. You’re going to hear from the borough president in a little bit. I also want to thank a dear friend, Council Member Vinnie Gentile. We’re in his district, we thank him for hosting us. Thank you very much council member. And I think we may be joined by the council member of a neighboring district, Carlos Menchaca, and Council Member Dan Garodnick, who is also chair of the Economic Development Committee.
Now before I go into the meaning of this task force and how it’s going to help us transform our strategy for job creation – I want you to understand the full import of what we’re doing today. But first let me thank the individuals involved. And you’re going to hear in this list a wonderful cross section of people who are leading right now efforts to create more and better jobs for New Yorkers, to create the kind of training that actually connects to today’s economy. And the fact that they’re all giving of themselves to play a crucial role in this taskforce is deeply appreciated. I’m going to name them all and we’ll clap for them at the very end.
I want to thank Cesar Claro of the Staten Island Development Corporation; Leecia Eve of Verizon; Jukay Hsu of the Coalition for Queens; David Jones of the Community Services Society; I already mentioned Steve Kempf of Lee Spring; Stanley Litow of IBM; Feliz Matos Rodriguez of Hostos Community College; Andrea Phillips of the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs; Jessamyn Rodriguez of the Hot Bread Kitchen; Jake Schwartz of General Assembly; Sondra Youdelman of Community Voices Heard; Vinny Alvarez, the president of the New York City Central Labor Council; Jennifer Jones Austin, who needs no introduction to you having done great work leading our transition efforts, now CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Carlo – now Carlo I have such special love for this name – Frapolli, the head of global talent at JP Morgan Chase; my dear friend Leo Hindery Jr., the managing partner for InterMedia Partners; Patricia Jenny, vice president for grants at New York Community Trust; Tim Johnson, the senior vp of the Greater New York Hospital Association; Angie Kamath, the executive director of the New York site of Per Scholas, an extraordinary organization I visited last year, helping to teach tech skills to people who need those skills today; and John Mogulescu, senior university dean for academic affairs at CUNY. I have now announced them all, let’s give them all a round of applause to thank them.
And again, you’ll notice the range, because we believe that folks who represent the education sector have to be at the table along with all the other sectors to make sure that we’re actually reorienting all of our efforts in one single, consistent direction.
Now, we’re here at Brooklyn Army Terminal because this is already an example – a living, breathing example here in this city – of what to do right and what we want to do a lot more of. I told you if you want to get inspired, take a tour with Alan Forman. He’s a true believer in what can be done here in this city in terms of manufacturing jobs. And he has – he does – it’s an incredible story. Altronix makes products that are bought all over the world because they’re so good and they’re so high-quality and they’re so specific in terms of the needs that they answer. These are the products that power large security systems, the kinds you find in airports and large educational institutions. It’s a crucial capacity held here that is not found in very many other places, and that’s why he has an extraordinary market that he sees – this is a company that’s been in Brooklyn for over 30 years and succeeded more and more here in Brooklyn. Now, they occupy now over 90,000 square feet at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. They employ 240 New Yorkers. These are quality jobs, the kind of jobs that people can actually earn a living with, feed a family with. And it’s a great story of what’s possible here in New York City and what is happening every day at BAT. And what more can happen at BAT. And really, when you look at this place and it’s extraordinary history, you realize that we have the example we need, that we can build upon right now.
Companies at BAT have provided now – at this moment – over 3,600 jobs, quality industrial jobs. Leasable space is 99 percent occupied, as you heard from Kyle. But there’s been – for a number of years – an additional half-million square feet that could be developed, but it’s sat unoccupied. And that’s what we’re addressing in our capital budget, a commitment of $100 million to upgrade the facility, which is projected to generate in just a few years’ time, 1,800 permanent jobs and another 600 construction jobs in the process. It will provide the kind of space that forward-looking manufacturing companies need right now in this city. So we’re racing ahead to create the space to meet the demands of quality companies right now. And again, these are the kinds of companies that create high-paying jobs that fit today’s economy. They are responding to market dynamics right now, and we have to be right there with them.
But this is absolutely connected to the vision that I have for this city as a more inclusive city, a city of economic opportunity across the board, all five boroughs, every kind of New Yorker. Not what we’ve experienced enough of in the past, but what we have to focus on now. If we’re going to grapple with all the inequalities we face, there’s a lot of things we can do. You’ve heard us talk about our huge plan to create affordable housing, enough for half a million people. You’ve heard about our focus on increasing benefits like paid sick leave. One of the most fundamental things we can do is create more quality jobs. Not more minimum wage jobs, more quality jobs, the kinds that families can live on. And that is essential to our vision and that’s exactly where the Jobs for New Yorkers task force comes in.
This task force is literally going to reinvent our approach to job creation, job training, job placement. We are going to tear down what was there before and rebuild – with the work of this task force – rebuild our effort. Because in fact what existed before is a series of disparate training and placement efforts that too much of the time put people into temporary jobs, short-term jobs, minimum wage jobs. This is not what the people of this city are expecting from us. It’s not what the taxpayers are expecting when they invest – literally, New York City today, spending almost half a billion dollars on all our training and placement programs combined, but we’re not getting our money’s worth.
And this task force of extraordinary leaders from the private sector, the non-profit sector, academia and public sector alike – this task force is charged with the task of reinvention. Literally using all of their skill and experience to say, ‘Here is the way to create training and placement programs that align to the 21st century, that align to where the jobs are today in New York City, and where they will be 10 and 20 years from now.’ So that when we create training programs, they’re for today and tomorrow’s reality, not yesterday’s reality, which tragically so many of our training programs still are oriented to right now.
And again, we don’t want to place people in minimum wage jobs. That’s not what we came here to do. We don’t want to take a challenge, an affordability crisis, a crisis of inequality, and simply perpetuate it. We don’t accept that status quo. If you ever want to think about – I used the word disruption the other day with the tech community, well this is another disruptive force in the best sense of the word. This task force is going to help us reengineer our approach so it aligns to the future. And that when we do a job placement, it’s a job placement that sticks. It’s a job that someone can stay in.
You know, in the past there’s been a temptation to tout achievements in terms of job training and placement, but when you looked a little more closely, some folks were in those jobs for three months or six months or nine months and then they were out of them. That’s not acceptable to us. We want jobs that people can stick with, that a family can grow with. That’s what this task force will focus on. And by the way, half a billion dollars of investment goes a long way. And in the right hands with their leadership, we’re going to orient that money much more effectively and the taxpayer’s going to get their money’s worth.
And I need not say, this task force understands my mandate is a five borough plan for job training, job creation, job placement, because that’s the vision that New Yorkers demand of us.
It’s so simple to think about the notion of aligning our efforts to what is actually happening in the economy, what is actually happening now and what we can project to the future. You’d think it’s the most obvious thing in the world, but sadly in government, very typically we’ve lagged 10, 20 or more years behind the trends that we’re experiencing. And we’ve accepted something less than that that we deserve, because we’ve allowed people to end up in jobs that simply weren’t sufficient. This task force, again, they’re going to be change agents. They represent such a broad range across the five boroughs, including industries like banking, hospitality, healthcare construction, some of the areas where we’re seeing extraordinary growth. They represent some of the businesses that have been great examples of manufacturing success. And again, we’re going to look to the education sector, the non-profit sector, all of the pieces to make sure we’re doing this right. We have the labor community represented because their voices matter crucially in how to create viable training for quality jobs. They are experts on that topic. And I think with the resourcefulness and creativity of the group we’ve assembled, that in just a few months time, you’re going to see an extraordinary product that reorients our job placement and training programs for good, and allows us to get on the move, creating quality jobs for New Yorkers.
A brief word in español – a todos nos ira mejor cuando hallan más oportunidades para cada uno de nuestros residentes.
With that, I’d like you to hear from an expert, because he’s achieving great things right here, at BAT right now. Steve Kempf, the CEO of Lee Spring Manufacturing. By the way, I’ve got to give you a special shout-out Steve. They do a lot of different products for a lot of different uses. One of them is springs used in tsunami detectors.
Talk about specialized. Steve Kempf.
Steve Kempf, CEO of Lee Spring Manufacturing: Yeah it’s a wide variety of things, actually. Well, as the head of a longtime Brooklyn manufacturer, Lee Spring, I am very pleased to be part of this Jobs for New Yorkers initiative. It seeks to ensure New York City residents have the skills and the opportunities to land high-quality jobs, and that the city’s businesses have the top-notch talent we need to compete on a global scale. The success of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is an excellent example of the great things we can accomplish as a city when the public and private sectors work together to innovate and modernize.
At Lee Spring, we have benefited immensely from the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Six years ago when we had to move out of our previous facility, the states of New Jersey and Connecticut offered great incentives. We also had a financially attractive opportunity to fold the work we did here into one of the six facilities we have outside of New York. But we have a long history in Brooklyn and a company culture tied deeply to New York City. We wanted to stay. If not for the Brooklyn Army Terminal, we might have had no choice but to go elsewhere.
Had we moved out of state, a lot of our workers wouldn’t have been able to make the commute. But the city made the Brooklyn Army Terminal attractive, and we didn’t lose a single employee in our transition here. Jobs that were otherwise in jeopardy were saved by the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Today, we’re more than 80 employees strong in the city, growing, and hiring. The quality of this building – the whole facility – it’s first-class management, 24/7 secured access, and amenities from childcare to parking to Pete’s Restaurant. Really, as a modest manufacturer, nothing compares to it in the city. The Brooklyn Army Terminal has been great for Lee Spring and its employees.
Lee Spring was founded here in Brooklyn nearly 100 years ago. Our hard-working, skilled employees manufacture precision springs and wire forms that are critical components of many of the devices we depend upon – from the tsunami detectors that the mayor spoke of, to medical dispensers that dispense exact dosage, to satellites that navigate in the skies above us. Lee Spring is constantly seeking to fill our open positions with qualified New Yorkers, but too often, we find it frustratingly difficult. And I attribute this in a large part to the skills gap that this group behind me has been [inaudible] to examine. We often post an open position and we’ll get 100 resumes. But few, if any, have the fundamental skills required of the job. We need to intervene at an early stage to provide the workforce with the right foundation. Education and training that demands a lot from the workers, but in turn delivers on its promise, allowing them to enter the workforce confident that they have the skills and the expertise to add value.
For Lee Spring, that may mean quantitative proficiency for accounting, logical reasoning for quality, mechanical aptitude for machinery operation, or verbal skills for customer service. Building this foundation for New Yorkers seeking employment will be a challenge, but it’s a critical challenge that we must face. And just as we can work together to create the physical spaces and provide the resources for businesses like ours to thrive, we must work together to develop clear pathways to success for our fellow New Yorkers to gain the skills that will allow them to thrive.
It is in this spirit of collaboration and innovation that the task force is coming together – employers, non-profits, academics, policy makers – to explore how this city can focus its investment in workforce programs to make the biggest impact. To ensure that economic development and workforce development work together to bolster opportunities for New Yorkers, just as it has here at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. To close the skills gap that leaves residents without high-quality jobs and employers without the talent they need to compete at a global level. And in the process, work toward developing an unrivaled pool of home-grown talent, so that when local businesses – like Lee Spring and the others standing up here before you – look to hire, they look and hire here. Thank you.
Mayor: And I want to introduce a man who is looking every day, every hour for opportunities to create quality jobs in Brooklyn and he fights hard for it – our Borough President Eric Adams.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams: I want to thank the mayor and his team. When we think about the issue of employment, a job is more than a ceremonial practice that takes place during the a.m. hours of our nation and our city and our world. It’s the precursor that allows you to sleep, to experience the American dream. And countless number of Brooklynites and New Yorkers are waking up to the nightmarish reality of unemployment, that doesn’t allow them to participate in the structure of moving their families forward.
And what we are doing today, the announcement, I’d like to consider it an 1883 moment. It’s when the Brooklyn Bridge was opened. The goal was to bring people from Manhattan to Brooklyn and over the difficult waterways. We are now looking at bridging the gap between unemployment and employment, a very important gap that must be implemented. And what the mayor’s doing, he’s bringing together the smart experts in the city. For far too long, there’s been this disjointed method of job creation. We have used a rotary phone concept in the smartphone age. That is over with today. Thirty smart, intelligent job creators from non-profits to the business community are coming together and stating one team, one method, one city, one goal – employment, putting New Yorkers back to employment, so they can experience the popularity and prosperity of this borough. Hooray for our mayor. Thank you.
Mayor: Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have a sound bite. ‘A rotary phone method in a smartphone age,’ nothing gets better than that. I think there’s something about the title of Brooklyn borough president that has infused a certain eloquence and creativity in the use of the English language. Well done, sir.
I want to emphasize just something that Eric alluded to, Steve alluded to before we take your questions. But the fact is, we know there are jobs – more and more jobs in this city – that cannot be filled by native New Yorkers under current conditions. We see it in manufacturing – sophisticated manufacturing – that more and more is predominating. We see it in tech. We see it even in elements of the healthcare industry. And at the same time, we know there are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers looking for better employment opportunities. Where’s the disconnect? The disconnect is exactly as Steve described, you’ve got to get the right training to the right people in the right time. So what a positive foundation that we have such strength in this city and we have employers ready to hire our own residents, but what a compelling challenge when we know the problem is we are not training our residents in the way that would make those jobs available to them right now. And so employers have to look outside of New York City, or in some cases those jobs go unfilled. So taking the blessing of such strong, vibrant sectors in our economy, fixing the problem of training programs and placement programs that aren’t aligned to the economy and aren’t reaching the people who need the help the most – including, by the way, a lot of training and placement programs that are missing those who would benefit the most – are helping people get jobs who are already on their way to jobs versus reaching folks who have been marginalized and left out of the economy.
If we can align our energies and our resources into one unified strategy, Steve’s going to have an easier time getting the talent he needs. My friends from the tech community I met with yesterday are going to have an easier time getting the talent they need. And more and more of that talent will be home-grown New York City talent, people coming out of our public schools, people coming out of CUNY, ready to work in the sectors that are growing today. That’s the vision and that’s what this task force will lead the way on. With that, I want to say – I want to congratulate the press corps for working on your suntans all together here. You should thank the Advance staff for having set this opportunity up for you, getting paid to work on your tans. With that, let’s take questions on this topic first. On topic. Grace?
Question: I have a question for Steve Kempf. The mayor spoke about not wanting to place people in jobs that are paying minimum wage, so I’m curious what an entry-level job might pay at your company? And also, you said that [inaudible] a year ago when they were trying to decide whether to stay in New York or leave that the city made the Brooklyn Army Terminal attractive. What did you mean by that? And were you offered or did you receive any financial incentives to stay here?
Kempf: The questions were about the starting wages at Lee Spring, given the mayor’s goals, as well as the incentives that we received to move here to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We have a wide variety of jobs, ranging from unskilled to skilled factory workers, and office personnel as well. As I described, from customer service to quality, so each of those would come with a wide variety of starting positions, none of which at this point are – all of which are above even the new talking – proposed minimum wages. So if the minimum wages are all increased as people are discussing, it would have no impact on us. Everybody’s above that, but it’s a wide range within that depending on the exact skills of the jobs we’re trying to fulfill. I mean, we just had two people start in the factory last week but they’re starting at skilled positions, so they’re higher.
As far as the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the main way they made it attractive is by the redevelopment work that’s here. And if you’ve taken a tour here, it’s really a fantastic facility. And we looked around other places in Brooklyn, and really it’s – the amount of investment that’s gone into this facility is what has made it the most attractive, and is what made us extremely happy here over six years. It’s also – a lot of the other opportunities we had to stay in New York City, which was our goal, we did get some financial incentives, but they were about a quarter of what we would have received if we went just to Bayonne across the bay here, that I can see the facilities we were looking at. So that was not the main incentive. But a lot of the amenities that I spoke of were big factors, and the proximity to our workforce. We have a lot of fantastic workers with an average tenure of nearly twenty years, we don’t want to lose them. They are skilled and they are loyal, so that was a big priority of ours. But there were a lot of things that make – and I discussed them – to make this Brooklyn Army Terminal attractive. They also gave us the opportunity for lease extensions going out 20-plus years. Just as [inaudible] Altronix has been here for a long time, we’d like to be here for a long time and not be pushed out. We used to be in DUMBO many, many years ago. We had a factory for 50 years in DUMBO, but with the redevelopment of residential areas, you get pushed out. And a lot of the other opportunities you have, they want a short-term lease so they can have redevelopment opportunities. But the city is committed to making this a facility that will serve manufacturing and distribution into the future, and so they were able to give us those long-term options.
Mayor: I just wanted to say, in light of the story that Steve told, I just want to – just express my regret to New Jersey that once again we had to beat them and keep our jobs here. And I think that nothing warms my heart more than looking across to Bayonne and thinking, ‘Sorry guys, you didn’t win that one, they’re right here in Brooklyn.’ So well done. I think also, I’m going to follow on [inaudible] point that what you’re seeing with this company, and what you’re seeing with electronics, is that you’ve got great advancement possibilities. People come in starting above minimum wage and have an opportunity to keep working their way up in the same location over years, continuing to get better and better jobs because people get a chance to get trained and learn on the job. So this is not about the static notion of here’s a job and you’re stuck at that level. This is actually the kind of pathway that’s created by companies like this, that a good employee keeps growing with.
Question: You’ve raised concerns though about financial incentives, offering companies financial incentives to stay. I mean just hearing this story, it didn’t match what they were offering in New Jersey but it still was part of the equation.
Mayor: Well but this makes the point – it didn’t match what they were offering in New Jersey and we won the day anyway because we did something more fundamental. We created an environment that worked for this company. And that’s what the $100 million capital investment is about, creating an environment that’s going to work for a number of other companies – that they’ll be here, they’ll stay here with quality jobs. My objection to so much of what’s happened with subsidies over the years is very porous approaches – government putting a huge amount of money in, either for something that would’ve happened anyway or to get a lot of minimum wage jobs or to get jobs that don’t stick around – guaranteed jobs that suddenly don’t happen. There’s a whole history here of really inappropriate use of subsidies and failed use of subsidies. And the taxpayers lost out in the deal.
Here, you’re talking about investment in infrastructure. Here you’re talking about building something that is lasting, that will bring in companies and keep them here for the long term. So this is the kind of investment that makes sense. Please.
Kempf: If I can follow up that, the actual – the incentives we did receive were directly related to the investment we put in the facility over in Brooklyn Army Terminal B. And it was a fraction of what the cost we actually invested.
Mayor: When I look for wisdom I turn to Alicia Glen, who makes the point – the other – another point in the answer to Grace’s question is – this is permanent. You know, the history, again, of some subsidies – a facility got subsidized for a temporary period of time then turned into something, else you lost the value of the subsidy. This is a permanent facility. We are further developing a facility that will provide quality jobs for the long-term. And this is what it’s going to be for the long term.
Question: Can you explain to me if the task force will directly work with the community [inaudible]
Mayor: Absolutely. I think the whole notion – you look at the broad array of people on the task force – we want it – it’s five-borough oriented – we want it to think from the neighborhood level. We want to think about how individual New Yorkers access the training and the placement help they need. And we want to think about the fact, again, that a lot of the training and placement, historically, has been redundant in the sense that it went to people – I’m very happy those people got jobs – but it went to people who were probably getting jobs without the investment from the public sector. We have to focus on lifting up people who are not getting those opportunities and giving them these core skills that will allow them to prosper. So it’s very community-focused because, in fact, it is about figuring out who actually needs the help the most – getting them the most current skills and then helping them to real jobs, quality jobs, permanent jobs, not temporary jobs or minimum wage jobs.
Question: Yeah, this is going off something that Steve said about losing the site in DUMBO. You have very ambitious affordable housing goals. We know there’s not a lot of spare land left in New York, and actually we’ve lost a lot of manufacturing land. So, in this strategy in conflict with your affordable housing plan?
Mayor: No, not at all. And Alicia, if you care to join, or Kyle. I’ll start but feel to add in. No, in fact we feel very comfortable, very clear that these two strategies align. Look. Let’s put it back in its first context – the fight against inequality, the fight against the affordability crisis. We are addressing that in terms of job creation and the quality of the jobs. We’re addressing that in terms of affordable housing. We’re addressing that in terms of education. All of these pieces have to align over time. We can’t create opportunity without land being devoted to job creation of quality jobs. And we know we have places where that’s working right now – Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal are two of the great examples in this city – but there’s more behind that. We are carefully cataloguing every part, every parcel in this city, every place where there’s an opportunity. And I think what we’re finding more and more is, a lot of our residential neighborhoods – there’s more opportunity to create residential and in the right way, in the right places. A lot of our manufacturing areas, there’s an opportunity to create more jobs in those areas. Here’s an example. A half a million square feet that’s not being tapped right now in one facility, in one industrial area.
So that’s the model – to deepen what we’re doing in each kind of part of the city, and tap into some land and some buildings that are totally underutilized or un-utilized right now for either manufacturing or residential. And, as we said in the housing plan, this makes the point too. Take smaller parcels that are seemingly disconnected and create a combined development site with them, whether that’s for job creation or whether that’s for housing creation. So we just think there’s a lot more that we can reach and we can do more with.
Question: A quick follow-up , do you expect – I mean as the last mayor did, so many manufacturing zones were rezoned for residential. Do you expect that to continue –
Mayor: No. We take a different view. We – first of all, mixed use and live-work space opportunities exist all over this city and that’s something that we believe is very consistent with the modern economy and where the economy is going. So it’s not always an either-or in any one location. But beyond that, with all due respect to the previous mayor – look, I think he did put a special focus on high-end residential development. We put a special focus on housing development writ large, but more of a focus on affordability. He was less focused, I think, on where we could go with manufacturing and some of the other elements of the economy that we think offer more possibility. We’re really going to focus a lot – in combination with the areas that the previous administration did focus on, like tech, like film and TV. I commend those efforts. I think they were essential and we’re going to continue and deepen them. But we think there’s a lot more to do with sophisticated manufacturing and we want to protect some of the areas that are particularly well suited to it. All right. On-topic, on-topic. Remember – the more you ask questions, the more we stand in the sunshine and sit in the sunshine. So let’s start asking extraneous on-topic questions. [inaudible]
Question: You talked about the city getting the right to raise its minimum wage. What do you think is sort of the base that a single person for family in New York could live off of for an entry-level job that would be in line with your thinking, but still affordable for companies?
Mayor: You know, look – I think the – you’d have to begin the discussion with where we have been so far on the national discussion of minimum wage and where we’ve been locally on the discussion of living wage. You can’t even start the discussion until you talk about what the President has proposed – the $10.10 minimum wage – right away. And indexed on top of that, which is what we would be doing right now in New York City if we had the power to set our own minimum wage. The living wage construct, which is the same minimum with benefits. Again, this is what we’re subsidizing, the living wage concept says that same minimum – $10.10 an hour with benefits, $11.50 without benefits – those are the baseline. Certainly we want to see people do a lot better than that everywhere we can. And we want to find ways to get people onto pathways so that they quickly can climb the ladder. But if you’re not talking about at least that $10 an hour level, we’re not having a serious discussion in terms of the cost of this city today. On-topic. Yes?
Mayor: On-topic, on-topic. Nice try. On-topic, on-topic. I always have to do my auction on topic. Going once. Yes, go.
Mayor: Well, again, you’re going to judge by its product, which is the most important thing. Words don’t matter, products do – and what we do with the product. But let me just offer some insights into some of the people. You know, Jukay Hsu of the Coalition for Queens, very community-oriented. David Jones of the Community Service Society, one of the strongest voices in this city about how city policies have to align to the needs of communities. Felix Matos Rodriguez at Hostos, one of the great leaders of the Bronx – and I think understands deeply the needs on the ground in the Bronx. Sondra Youdelman of Community Voices Heard. I think Community Voices Heard kind of speaks to your point. I mean it very sincerely that these are examples of people who will powerfully represent that need. But the plan only works if it is thought of from the neighborhood level up. Okay – last call – on-topic, on-topic. Once –
Question: What kind of jobs are you looking to create? [inaudible] high-tech manufacturing [inaudible]
Question: [inaudible] shrinking in New York.
Mayor: Aha! You’ve fallen into my trap! Alan Forman, where are you? Come here, Alan. Our carefully designed plan has worked. Would you please explain to the gentleman why manufacturing jobs like this can work in Brooklyn as opposed to going overseas?
Forman: I’m sorry that – who’s that gentleman out there? Last call. How are you? Nice to meet you. I’d be more than happy, if you have the time, to give you a tour, like I did with the mayor this morning. And you will see for your own eyes that there is a possibility that high-tech can thrive in New York City, and particularly at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We have that formula down thirty years. We took a shot. We’re lean, we’re responsive, we’re passionate, we’re crazy, we have an incredible imagination, and we are very, very, very patriotic to this country and to New York. I’m a Brooklyn boy, if you couldn’t tell – although I don’t have an accent. And this is like déjà vu – this is – 17 years we had Mayor Giuliani here kicking off the BAT Phase Three. It was a big deal for me, 9,000 square feet. Wow. Oh my god, how are we going to fill it? Turns out on our day moving in, we didn’t have enough space for inventory storage, components, things that we need because we’re [inaudible] manufacturer.
So let’s fast-forward the clock, 30 years later, five lines of robotic high-tech manufacturing, like at an Apple facility somewhere in the world, but in Brooklyn, New York. And we don’t play games. We live by the rules. We take care of our vendors, we take of our employees, we train employees. We don’t follow a book. We would love to see – and forgive me, Mr. Mayor – we would love to see lean politics, we’d love to see money well-spent. We would love to see action as opposed to words. Thank you very much for everything you’ve done in this city, guys, and we will continue to compete. There is a will. There is a way. And we can’t really share every secret with our competitors – and my biggest concern is that many of our peers in the industry might want to move into the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We need more space also like Lee Spring, and congratulations to you for a job well done. Okay. But I was really not prepared to speak today.
Mayor: But you’re a Brooklynite so you were ready anyway.
Forman: My new friend Mayor de Blasio – I want to thank him, I want to thank all of you. But there are real businesses, there’s real performance here. And we also subscribe to the fact that prosperity shouldn’t be for a few. It should be spread around, okay? And when you have people you can truly call your family, your extended family away from home, that you spend a lot of hours with, when you get the respect that, ‘Oh, there’s my boss.’ No, no, no, no, there’s Alan and there’s Jonathan and there’s Gary and there’s Frank and they’re going on planes and they’re coming home and they’re sacrificing, because we’re all sacrificing together here. And it isn’t about going out and beating the competition, it’s about going out and providing services, solutions that are respected – building a reputation and being able to, perhaps, even against all odds, charge more for your product and service. So, it’s not about me too, it’s not about chopping prices, it’s not about exploiting labor and avoiding tax. It’s about being part of the solution. So with that, if I’m over time, Mr. Mayor, I would love for you to pull the hook. But thank you again. We look forward to working with this administration and we welcome you guys to visit us at any time. And thank you very much.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Well done, brother. Well done. I just want to say – I just want to amplify – and then Kyle has something to add – that is such a powerful, such a powerful testimony. You’ve seen around the country this turn starting, towards the reevaluation of manufacturing, towards looking at the virtues of the customers being close to where the product is created. And the, as you said, just-in-time products, the accessibility, the responsiveness, the speed with which adjustments are made, the quality control – it’s happening more and more, that sort of rediscovery of what can be done here. But it also takes innovators, like these two gentlemen, who understand it’s a different kind of model. It’s about quality, it’s about customer service. Yes, sometimes it’s not about making as much money. Or sometimes it’s about charging a somewhat high price. But it works. And, by the way, what you hear in both of their voices is it brings them tremendous satisfaction. I see this with a lot of manufacturers in this city. They love what they do. And they love doing it here. And isn’t that why people start these companies to begin with? And so I think these are the kind of companies that more and more will want to make New York their home. Kyle?
Kimball: Sure. The only thing I would add is that it’s important to remember that high-tech manufacturing doesn’t just mean circuit boards and computer components. But that to the extent that things are being manufactured, all manufacturing companies are being disrupted by technologies. And so, if we’re going to stay a global capital of commerce, we’re going to have to help our industries in the city whether or not they are making ties or whether or not they’re making electronic components or whether or not they’re making food, to stay on top of tech trends to make sure that they are most efficient and can compete globally.
Mayor: I’ve now been authorized by Phil Walzak to go to off-topic. Off-topic, off-topic, off-topic. Yes?
Question: There are several pivotal US Senate primaries today. I wanted to ask you if you’re concerned at all that the Republicans could take over the Senate in the fall and perhaps be spiteful to your ambitions –
Mayor: I’m concerned about the situation in Washington writ large. And I’ve said that in the current dynamics that we’re stymied. All of urban America is stymied by the situation in the House of Representatives right now. So I remain hopeful that the Democrats will hold the majority in the Senate, and that is certainly better for New York City. But we have to take back the House if we really are going to make some of the changes that we need. We need, once again, for the federal government to invest in urban America. We need investments in mass transit, affordable housing, infrastructure for the good of our nation. This is not a self-interested plea. This is to strengthen our nation. We are more and more the economic centers of our country. And it is actually extraordinary that elements of the House of Representatives are ignoring every opportunity to strengthen our country economically and, by definition, to make us more secure for the future in the process. So I remain hopeful about a Democratic Senate. But even with a Democratic Senate, we have a huge challenge ahead. Sally?
Question: Do you feel that they have done enough to push FEMA to get New York City [inaudible] money? Or do you think there’s more that they can be doing to prioritize for New York City?
Mayor: I feel very good about the state’s efforts to work on behalf of maximizing aid to the state and the city in the aftermath of Sandy. And we continue to press with the congressional delegation, with our senators, for the resources we need. And there have been a number of constructive discussions. And hopefully we’ll have good results relatively soon. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.
Question: The 9/11 Memorial Museum has started selling things like [inaudible]. I was wondering if you think those types of gifts are appropriate and what your opinion is?
Mayor: I don’t get into the inner-workings of the museum and the foundation. I respect them greatly. I think they’ve done an amazing job in terms of what they created – an incredibly complex challenge they faced. And the museum itself is extraordinary. My only statement would be, in making any of their decisions, I think they have to be mindful of the sensitivities and particularly the concerns of the family members. And I trust that they have good judgment. But that would be my only advice to them, is always take those concerns into account.
Question: I have an on-topic question.
Mayor: Oh my god. Unacceptable. That’s right.
Question: What’s the first tangible thing that we can expect out of this task force? Is it a pledge to create jobs? Is it a report? Is it a number of jobs? What is it?
Mayor: We’ve lost our deputy mayor. Hold on, I’ll stall while the deputy mayor comes forward. Well, it’s not just a report. You’re saying that the notion of what will the report lead to. So I think I’ll start and then Kyle, Katie, Alicia, whoever wants to join in. The goal here is – again, just picture what we’re talking about – half a billion dollars not being used effectively. The first thing you will get is a roadmap for how to use your existing half-billion dollars – which is a lot of money where I come from – to use that effectively and target it to the current and future economy, and actually create a sharper pipeline so people who need the jobs get to the jobs – with much higher quality standards in terms of the wage levels and higher quality standards in terms of the length of employment, higher quality standards in terms of getting the services for those who truly need it the most. That’s the game plan. The report will lay out that pathway in detail. The product will be the first times you start to see those programs changed and people trained and getting into new jobs from them. Now, how many more months will that take? We have to get you a clearer answer on that. But the real product from the task force will be taking a lot of money and a lot of effort and reorient it so it’s actually strategic and effective. Anyone want to add? Okay. We’re good. Last question. Last question. Tsunami warnings. No? Okay, thank you, everyone.