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2014 NYC Development Finance Conference Recap

 |  NYCEDC

What happens when hundreds of economic development thinkers and practitioners gather on the 68th floor of 4 World Trade Center? Progress.

Last week, NYCEDC’s Development Finance Conference brought together not-for-profits, developers, lenders, and other leaders and experts to discuss strategies and tools for creating and implementing a thoroughly 21st Century economic development program in New York City.

Gathering atop 4 World Trade Center, conference participants were granted a panoramic view of the city—from the Rockaways to the Hudson, from Pelham to Sunset Park—that allowed them to take in the full potential of every corner of every borough.

The day revolved around the idea that the city’s economy must be strong, diverse, and inclusive, a point that NYCEDC president Kyle Kimball addressed in his opening remarks when he stressed that the city must find a way to grow that “balances profitability with mission-driven outcomes.”

This approach is inclusive by nature, aiming to connect every New Yorker to the work of economic development so that economic outcome for a family in Flushing is given equal weight to that of a business in Midtown.

Of course, there are major challenges to tackle as part of this approach: first and foremost is the crisis of inequality. With an annual gross metropolitan product of nearly $1.5 trillion, New York City’s commercial success is virtually unparalleled. Still, too many New Yorkers are unable to share in these rewards. Today in New York City, even work is no longer a safeguard against economic hardship.

A second related challenge is housing. New York City is a safer, more welcoming city than it was decades ago, which attracts more people to work and live. But that success puts pressure on the city’s housing stock, and more people are paying a larger percentage of their income—more than half in some cases—on rent. Entire neighborhoods have lost their affordability to a tremendous number of New Yorkers.

A third challenge is the city’s industrial mix. Our financial markets generate more revenue than most nations. But as we saw in the financial crisis, this strength can also be a serious challenge to sustained growth. So we’ll need to upgrade our aging infrastructure in order to diversify the economy. Every neighborhood of every borough ought to be a great place to live, play, start a family—and work.

Responding to these challenges can take many forms, and navigating the landscape of tools that makes this work come to life can be tricky. NYCEDC organizes the Development Finance Conference as a way of guiding everyone through that landscape and creating an environment where ideas and best practices are shared.

Public sector leaders like Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball, and Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development Vicki Been outlined some of the City’s strategies for approaching these challenges during the conference.

Partners from the private, non-profit, and academic sectors also weighed in on some of the policy responses, assistance programs, and economic tools—from incentives to tax abatements to bonds—that help the development of the mixed-use and community-oriented projects that will become a staple of this administration’s strategy.

As the city becomes less of a hub-and-spoke model in which New Yorkers travel into traditional Manhattan business districts for work and return to the boroughs in the evenings, entire neighborhoods need to develop throughout the city as more and more, people are staying closer to home for work that provides pathways to the middle class.

NYCEDC has been pioneering some of these efforts through new modes of transport like ferries, mixed-use projects like Hunter’s Point South and Essex Crossing, and new industrial drivers like the Applied Sciences Initiative. But of course, the city agencies and not-for-profits, community development organizations, development firms, lenders, and academics that operate in the city, and participated in the #NYCDevFin Conference, all play vital roles in the process of improving New York City.

This year's NYC Development Finance Conference was on social media! Below are a few insights shared socially on Twitter with our dedicated hashtag, #NYCDevFin. 

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