Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic nominee for Mayor Eric Adams gave a blunt assessment of his economic vision for New York before a gathering of business movers and shakers on Monday morning.
“New York will no longer be anti-business,” Adams said during the Sept. 13 SALT Conference, an annual convention of thought and business leaders that meets this year in Manhattan.
“We have to stop feeding the crises that we are experiencing and start going to the underlying causes,” Adams added. “This is going to be a place where we welcome business and not turn into the dysfunctional city that we have been for so many years.”
That seemed to be a shot across Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bow; the term-limited, outgoing progressive incumbent, known for launching various programs aimed at addressing economic inequality, has taken criticism for not being as kind to industries and businesses as his predecessors.
Asked about Adams’ comments at his daily press briefing Monday, de Blasio charged that if any recent mayor has been “anti-business,” it wasn’t him.
“Obviously, this is a city that has done so much to work with our business community, to bring businesses back, bring jobs back, extraordinary levels of support, constantly working with businesses big and small,” said de Blasio, who said he wasn’t taking “a couple of lines out of context.”
“So, I’m very confident that what we’ve done in New York City is supporting businesses while also supporting working people and striking that balance, and particularly during the COVID era, bending over backwards to help the business community come back strong,” the mayor added.
During his Sept. 13 SALT appearance, Adams addressed a laundry list of initiatives aimed at making NYC more business friendly.
He promised a new plainclothes anti-gun unit and joint task force with the state and federal government to bring down crime. Adams proposed permanent community health centers in underserved neighborhoods to combat COVID and ensure better long-term health, and proposed free or subsidized childcare for every parent.
In a nod to the theme of innovation at the conference, Adams also offered investments to attract life sciences, cybersecurity, and blockchain businesses. These investments include tax incentives, incubators, zoning tools, and even CUNY partnerships.
Adams touted his proposed investment in green jobs through NYC’s capital program, and repeated his initiative for a single digital system for all NYC government services.
“There is a huge investment that we are planning to make in New York, but we expect something in return,” Adams said. “We ask you to offer your jobs to New Yorkers. Right now there are hundreds-of-thousands of people out of work in New York, and there are hundreds-of-thousands of jobs that you have that we can fill.”
Included in his economic plan, Adams stressed the need to invest in new Business Improvement District and Merchant Association formation, something business groups have endorsed.
“We learned during the pandemic and economic shutdown, if a commercial corridor had a BID or active merchant association in place, their businesses were generally able to ‘whether the storm’ better than those areas that had no organizing entity on the ground,” said Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Let’s look long-term and build capacity in every commercial corridor across NYC, so that if we ever face another crisis of this scale, we will have a more comprehensive support infrastructure in place to assist our small businesses.”
The recovery from COVID is likely to dominate this November’s mayoral general election, and Adams’ courtship of voters concerned with the economy makes these overtures a vital part of his campaign.
“I am offering my hand in partnership today, but I am also making an ask,” said Adams. “Pledge to be part of this unprecedented effort to grow this city and get New Yorkers back to work.”