In an interesting story in yesterday's NY Times our old friend Jennifer Steinhauer writes about the exodus of creative workers from NYC. What the article points out is that the city needs to cultivate and nurture this cluster of industries or else they will begin to look elsewhere. This is the same general point that we have made before. In spite of what the mayor says, the city is not just a "luxury item" that you either can afford or can't.
There are two important points here: the first is that the general climate for doing business is a factor in the decisions of businesses to locate or relocate. Secondly, certain businesses need to be cultivated with programs that are specifically tailored to their needs. Failure on one front or the other, or worse on both, is going to lead to a loss of business in an area.
The Steinhauer story, and a similar one in today's NY Sun, is based on a study done by the Center for an Urban Future. The key variables that the study focuses on are the cost of housing and work space, as well as the cost of health care. What's interesting is that nowhere in the report is there any mention of commercial real estate taxes as an underlying cause of the spiraling costs. It would appear that while housing costs are rising the astronomical increases of the real estate tax in 2002 have also played an inflationary role, in spite of the mayor's defense of the increase.
What is now needed is for the City Council to hold economic development hearings that bring in some of the leading experts who have studied the city's specific business needs as well as those who are expert on the overall economic climate. What is badly needed is a city economic development policy that transcends the self-serving and misleading mayoral campaign rhetoric.
As a concomitant to this, it is high time for the City Council, and its incoming leadership, to beef up the legislative policy staff in this, as well as in a host of other areas. The policy work being done at city agencies is not of the highest quality and, given the level of academic resources available to us in NYC, it is inexcusable for the level of policy expertise to be as low as it is.