Quinn Wants More Jobs in Brooklyn

It’s about jobs, stupid!

In her fifth State of the City address, Speaker Christine Quinn highlighted City Council’s plans to stimulate the economic recovery for New Yorkers by creating local jobs in Brooklyn and beyond.

Quinn outlined four principles to put New Yorkers back to work, which include cultivating innovation, assisting small businesses, fixes business taxes to help them expand, and reeducating New Yorkers with new skills.

“Economists are looking at statistical measures and long-term trends. Most New Yorkers are just worried about paying this month’s bills,” said Speaker Quinn. “The job of government is to see both sides of that divide. To provide immediate solutions to the problems New Yorkers face right now.”

Throughout her speech, Quinn referenced several programs that have been successful as pilots in Brooklyn as well as incidents reported from the borough that epitomized growing problems citywide.

To address the bevy of rules and regulations that small businesses confront, Quinn shared a story about a business owner in Brooklyn who received a ticket from a city inspector after a different inspector told him to move his license to another place in his business.

“I think that city inspectors are under pressure to create revenue that the city needs,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “Small business owners are being nickle and dimed by inspectors.”

Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) agreed, noting that it was important to protect local businesses in Bay Ridge and the entire borough.

“I am 100 percent on board with fighting for the fair enforcement of city regulations and laws so that local businesses aren’t hurt in our city’s efforts to protect consumers and neighborhoods,” said Gentile.

With regards to softening the credit crisis and working with banks to distribute loans to small businesses, Quinn cited the Second Look program, which started upstate, that creates a specific pool of money for local businesses that have been turned down for loans. Finance Committee Chair Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) and Carl Hum, President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will launch the initiative.

“The finance committee will be working with banks and small business owners to get credit going,” said Recchia.

Quinn noted a new partnership that the Council has launched in Williamsburg with the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center and the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation to purchase and renovate vacant factories in Brooklyn in order to lease the space to small manufacturers.

“One of the most rewarding accomplishments has been the implementation of the Industrial Business Zone, which protects from further reduction of space,” said Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg). “We fought side-by-side with community based organizations against developers to retain local jobs by preserving this structure for industrial use.”

The Speaker also highlighted a successful pilot program that Pratt Center for Development and the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Bed-Stuy to retrofit an entire city block of homes with the latest weatherization initiatives. The program, which is targeted at one to four-family homes, will be expanded to one community in each borough.

“On one block, we got 25 homeowners to sign up for energy audits. It’s a way of ramping up the weatherization of buildings,” said Pratt Center Director Adam Friedman who administered the program. “Each building saves $1200 a year on energy, both electric and gas combined.”

Brooklyn Councilmembers praised Quinn’s speech, pointing out her focus on job creation and tax relief as echoing the immediate concerns of the majority of New Yorkers.

New Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin said that Quinn hit the right tone focusing on economic development and small businesses, particularly the Green Jobs Retrofit program.

Three-term Councilmember Lew Fidler, a member of Speaker Quinn’s leadership team, concurred.

“I think she had a lot of good ideas and understands the message that voters sent in November,” said Fidler (D-Mill Basin, Canarsie). “New Yorkers are tired of being taxed and ticketed and their concerns are becoming manifest in a number of our ideas.”