Brooklyn is changing and it’s for the better! Change has come in the form of new stores, revamped neighborhoods and the fastest job growth in New York City. Today’s Brooklyn is not your parents Brooklyn.
I turned 66 last month, and nobody appreciates Brooklyn’s history more than I do. I remember when the Dodgers beat the Yankees at Ebbets Field, kids and parents went shopping for back to school clothes at A&S on Fulton Mall and the place to see the newest movie was the Loew’s Kings Theatre. Ebbets Field is gone, so is the A&S and Loew’s Kings Theatre has long been dormant – something I’m working hard to change.
In spite of saying “goodbye” to our treasures of yesterday–Brooklyn is thriving. The reason is simple: Brooklyn has embraced modernization without forgetting its past and become an economic engine for New York City.
Don’t believe me? The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And in this case the pudding is employment data. From June 2009 to June 2010 none of New York’s boroughs were even close to Brooklyn. Brooklyn increased employment by 3.6 percent. Not only is that nearly double the next highest number in New York City, it’s good enough for 2nd best of all large counties … IN THE COUNTRY. And Crain’s New York Business proclaimed Brooklyn to be “at the forefront of the city’s economic recovery” thanks to the 14,000 jobs Brooklyn added in 2010.
Brooklynites know this is happening and they don’t need numbers to prove it. They see it in their everyday lives. Brooklyn is making everything from movies to belt buckles. Brooklyn is on the cutting edge of the new economy with the next Silicon Valley emerging in DUMBO. Brooklyn is also New York’s greenest borough with programs like the Navy Yards green manufacturing center. Even our restaurants are innovating using hydroponic rooftop gardens to grow their own produce. And this is going on in neighborhoods across the borough from small family owned companies to big business alike.
For years, I’ve been urging large companies to consider moving their back offices to Downtown Brooklyn, but I’ve changed my tune. Brooklyn is no longer just for back offices. Companies like El Diario, the largest Spanish language daily in the country, and UniWorld, an ad agency that wrote the book on marketing toward the African American community, have already moved their full operations from Manhattan to MetroTech.
And the economic renaissance is not limited to big companies. In the latest issue of my newsletter Brooklyn!! there are stories about small businesses throughout Brooklyn in a wide array of industries. There’s the upscale kitchen finishing company in Red Hook, a female-owned plumbing supply company in East Flatbush, a do-it-yourself winery in Williamsburg and world’s only all-kosher culinary academy outside of Israel, located in Midwood, Brooklyn, U.S.A.
This is all great news, but it’s not nearly enough to meet the needs of Brooklyn. Brooklyn needs more jobs right here and right now. As far as I’m concerned, for elected officials, jobs should be “job one.” That’s why I’m setting aside over $1 million in capital funds and working with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to develop a “business incubator” in one of Brooklyn’s economically challenged areas. And it’s why I’m aggressively pitching that Panasonic bringing their operations to MetroTech. Because if the choice is between Newark and Brooklyn, U.S.A. America’s fourth largest city, fuhgeddaboudit.
But it’s not just about bringing companies to Brooklyn – Brooklynites need to know about the opportunities these companies can offer. So the Borough President’s Office, along with the New York State Department of Labor, NYC’s Small Business Services (SBS) and Workforce1, Arbor Education and Training, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, are holding a job fair on April 13. If you want more information visit my website www.brooklyn-usa.org for the details.
Of course, as we go forward we can never forget about the Brooklyn of your parents and mine, the people and places that laid the foundation for this booming borough. After too many years of decline, Fulton Mall is undergoing a historic transformation including new stores and restaurants. And we should finally see a revamped and reopened Loew’s Kings Theatre – a project many years in the making. The boardwalk in Coney Island, a once neglected gem is now a prospering beach destination for families and tourists – with year-round attractions on the way.
I love Brooklyn – old and new. I’m not just Brooklyn’s Borough President; I’m its biggest fan. I am blessed to be serving Brooklyn at this exciting time and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. As I told part-time Brooklyn resident and astronaut Garrett Reisman—even the sky is no longer the limit.