Queens’ economy is on the rebound, but it may be a slow recovery, a leading business advocate warned the Long Island City Business Development Corp. last Thursday.
Speaking at the LICBDC’s annual economic outlook breakfast, Kathryn Wylde, chief executive officer of Partnership for NYC, a nonprofit coalition of business executives dedicated to improving the city’s economy, said unemployment reached a high of 9.6 percent in Queens in January. Citywide the rate was about 10.4 percent.
“Queens was doing relatively better, but still you’ve got 6 percent fewer Queens residents who have jobs today than did in July 2008 when that number peaked,” she said, “so people are still feeling the crisis.”
Wylde predicted an “L-shaped recovery” for the country, noting that if the 3 percent growth expected in the nation’s gross domestic product this year were to become the consistent growth rate, it would take a decade to return to the number of jobs the country had in 2007.
The housing market in Queens is more than rebounding, she said, with sales activity 7 percent higher than it was at the market peak.
“That is a housing rebound that is true all over the city,” she said.
But the commercial real estate market will continue to suffer for some time, she said, noting office buildings and retail space would continue to move slowly.
The borough’s commerce may also suffer because of the strapped finances of struggling state agencies like the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which she said is facing revenue shortfalls and pouring all its resources into rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
“There is really nothing left for the airports,” she said.
She praised a collaboration between Goldman Sachs and LaGuardia Community College as “the kind of model we need to see replicated.”
The 10,000 Small Businesses initiative will provide funding to LaGuardia and other community colleges across the nation to provide practical business and management education to small business owners.
Andrew Manshel, executive vice president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., worried about the state “throwing out the baby with the bath water” by discarding the Empire Zone business incentive program for a different model. He praised the positive effects of the South Jamaica Empire Zone.
But Wylde said that while similar programs in New Jersey and Connecticut have given a 10 percent return on investment, the overall return for New York has been insignificant because the incentives were allotted “in a pork barrel fashion.”
“By any measure, the return to the state, the investment in Empire Zones, has failed miserably,” she said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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