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Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York has more than 24,000 restaurants, bakeries, delis, and other eating establishments, with menus that satisfy any taste and suit every budget. They’re a huge part of our daily lives. Hundreds of thousands of us work in them; they pump $12 billion a year into our economy; and they’re a major attraction for the 50 million-plus tourists who visit New York each year.

It’s essential not only that these businesses store, prepare, and serve food in ways that protect our health, but also that customers have a reliable way of knowing how good a job they’re doing. So in July, 2010, the City Health Department began issuing letter grades to them. Those ‘A’s,’ ‘B’s’ and ‘C’s’ displayed in restaurant windows around town tell us about the food safety and sanitation practices inside. And a new Health Department study shows four major reasons why the letter-grade system is making the grade.

First: Kitchens across the City are cleaner.  More than 72 percent of restaurants citywide were posting A’s in their windows at the end of January – up from 65 percent just 12 months earlier.  

Second: Over the past year, the number of cases of salmonella infection – the best indicator of food-borne illnesses – dropped to a 20-year low in the five boroughs.  That’s great news for everyone who lives or works in our City, or who visits us on business or on vacation.

Third: New Yorkers overwhelmingly like the grading system. A survey conducted by Baruch College found that 91 percent of us approve of the grades, 88 percent of us take grades into account when we decide where to eat, and 76 percent of us feel more confident about cleanliness in restaurants with ‘A’ grades.

And fourth: New York’s restaurant business is booming. When we started issuing letter grades, some worried that they’d drive customers away. But during the first nine months of the program – the period for which we have full figures – restaurant sales actually increased 9.3 percent citywide. That growth is three times greater than it was in the two previous years – evidence that keeping restaurant kitchens cleaner attracts customers, just as making our restaurants and bars smoke-free has, too.

The fact is that we want restaurants to succeed. That’s why, for example, over the past two years our ‘new business acceleration team’ has cut the red tape involved in getting the permits needed to open more than 600 new restaurants all over town. Getting an ‘A’ from the Health Department is also great free advertising – advertising that more and more restaurants are proudly displaying. And now a new iPhone app can help you quickly find ‘A’-graded restaurants, too. 

Business at restaurants is up; illness from food poisoning is down. And New Yorkers support the letter grading system. The proof is in the pudding – and more than ever, the pudding is being prepared according to the highest food safety standards.

Connecting More New Yorkers to Jobs

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Every day, we are working to create more jobs and build a stronger, more diverse economy for the 21st century. At the same time, we’re working to connect more New Yorkers to the jobs that exist today – and to help people gain the skills that will allow them to advance their careers. One of the ways we’re doing both is by creating new Workforce1 Career Centers, including two we opened just last week – on Staten Island’s South Shore and another in Long Island City.

When our Administration began, there were three career training and job placement centers, connecting only about 500 people a year to jobs.  Today, thanks to the work of Commissioner Rob Walsh and our Department of Small Business Services, there are 15 centers – and in 2011 our Workforce1 Career Centers helped connect 35,000 New Yorkers to jobs.

We’ll open two more centers this year. We’re also partnering directly with businesses, providing more one-on-one counseling to job-seekers, training our workforce for the industries that are growing, and matching employers to the workers they need – all of which helps put more New Yorkers to work.

What’s more, we’re opening many of our centers in communities where the need for job training and support is greatest. For instance, our new Workforce1 Center in Long Island City is next door to NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses. We’ve also opened two centers to connect workers to careers in the health care, industrial and transportation industries. Several of our larger Workforce1 Centers are great at connecting New Yorkers to entry-level jobs, while our smaller centers, including the three that we have opened in public libraries, are focused on connecting employees to mid-level jobs.

Last Tuesday, I visited the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza to see one of these centers firsthand. Libraries have always served as gateways of opportunity. They’re also the place where people go to get information, use computers, and network – all of which makes them great places to look for a job. That’s why we’ve also opened centers in the Sunset Park Library, as well as the Flushing Library in Queens. And this spring, we’ll launch another new center at the Francis S. Martin branch in University Heights in the Bronx.

To maximize the value of these centers for the New Yorkers who need them, we’re helping train librarians in the latest job search strategies and labor market trends so they can better serve visitors seeking employment.

We’re working every day to help more New Yorkers get back to work.  Because creating and connecting New Yorkers to jobs is our number one job.

Innovative Steps For a Brighter Year Ahead

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Over the past 10 years, our Administration has turned around the city’s schools, strengthened our economy, protected our environment, and improved our quality of life. And last week’s State of the City laid out the innovative steps we’re taking during 2012 to do even more to help all New Yorkers fulfill their dreams.

We all know that in today’s world, that starts with education. And it’s clearer now than ever that success in schools is keyed to having the best teachers. So we need to attract more students who graduate at or near the top of their college classes to teach in our schools. To do that, we’re proposing this idea to the teachers’ union: let’s offer to pay off up to $25,000 of those students’ college loans. And let’s also agree to boost the salaries of our most effective classroom teachers by $20,000 a year.

We also intend to step up our efforts to keep only the best teachers. We’ll establish committees in 33 persistently low-achieving schools that will assess the teachers there; only the best will be brought back. That process will also enable our schools to receive $58 million in State ‘school improvement grants.’ At the same time, we’ll continue to give parents and students more schools to choose from; we announced plans to create 100 new schools over the next two years. This year, we’ll also make sure students’ lessons and assignments are geared even more closely to preparing them for college or careers.

That’s because our students have to be ready for the ‘knowledge economy’ that more and more of them will be working in as adults. To create jobs in that economy, this year, we’ll encourage expansion of our city’s growing ‘tech’ sector – while beginning to connect more low-income New Yorkers to knowledge-based jobs. We’re also going to build the economy in all five boroughs by, for example, joining local elected officials to bring businesses and jobs to the Bronx’s long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory – and also to keep thousands of good jobs at the Hunts Point produce market. We’ll strongly support State Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s proposal to increase the State minimum wage. And we’ll step up our efforts to place more New Yorkers in new jobs – including currently unemployed veterans of our Armed Forces.

To help put more New Yorkers to work, we’re also going to streamline the processes of getting City approval for development projects and construction plans. And to keep New York a place where people want to live and businesses want to locate and expand, we’ll continue enhancing our great quality of life, with more affordable housing, new parks, a new bike-sharing program, and new cultural attractions in all five boroughs. We’ll also begin to double the amount of waste we recycle instead of sending it to landfills, start to develop more renewable sources of energy, and move ahead aggressively toward our goal of giving New York the cleanest air of any city in the nation.

Cities around the globe look to New York for leadership – and for good reason. In areas from public schools to public safety to public health, we’re the world capital of innovation. And in 2012, that spirit of innovation will power New York toward a brighter future.

New York is entering the new year riding a crest of good news. On average, we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever. We’re also the safest big-city in the nation, and safer from crime, fire, and traffic fatalities than at any time in modern memory. And we’ve got good reasons to hope that these trends will continue in 2012.
Let’s start with life expectancy. Babies born in New York City, in 2009, can now expect to live an average of 80.6 years. According to the city’s Department of Health, that’s almost three years longer than newborn life expectancy was in the year 2000. It’s also nearly two-and-a-half years longer than the comparable national average. Life expectancy for adults is up too. For 40-year-olds, it now averages 82 years. That’s nearly two years longer than life expectancy for 40-year-olds nationwide. Our lifespan gains are also greater than those of people living in counties with other major cities across the nation have seen. 
There are two big conclusions to draw from this hopeful news. The first is that many of the aggressive steps we’ve taken to improve public health, such as encouraging New Yorkers to quit smoking and also to get tested and treated for HIV, are big factors in adding years to our lives. The second thing to remember is that these life expectancy figures are averages. If you carry out those New Year’s resolutions to watch your weight, exercise, and stop smoking, the chances are that you can live even longer.
There’s lots of good news on the public safety front, too. The NYPD and FDNY have just given New Yorkers the safest decade on record. The number of murders in our city last year was the third lowest ever. It was also the 10th consecutive year that we’ve recorded fewer than 600 murders. While even one murder is one too many, keep in mind that before 2002, we hadn’t seen as few as 600 murders a year since the early 1960s. During the past 10 years, we’ve decreased crime overall more than 34 percent. 
We’ve also just closed out 10 years with an average of 88 fire deaths per year. That’s by far the safest decade since the FDNY started keeping records. Over those 10 years, we’ve made average response time to fires 20 seconds faster than it was during the previous decade. During 2011, ambulances cut their average response time to life-threatening emergencies to six minutes, thirty-one seconds – a new record low.
We’ve also made our streets safer than ever. Thanks to better engineering, education, and enforcement, we ended 2011 on track to having the fewest traffic fatalities on record. Over the past 10 years, we’ve cut traffic deaths in the five boroughs by 40 percent. That means that today, our rate of traffic fatalities is roughly two-thirds lower than the national rate. Now let’s all get 2012 off to a safe start by remembering to drive responsibly as this New Year’s weekend comes to a close.

Investments in The Future of Our City

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English: Shopping District on 82nd Street betw...

While the holiday season is a time of celebration, it’s also a time to plan for the coming year. Even in these tough economic times, our administration continues to build for the future, keeping our commitment to further transform New York by making investments that will create thousands of jobs and pave the way for future economic growth.
Last week, after years of planning and teamwork, we took the first physical steps in transforming Willets Point, Queens, from a heavily polluted industrial zone into a vibrant commercial and residential community. The $50 million initial investment we are making there, to install critical infrastructure, will create more than 350 construction-related jobs.
But that’s only the first step. The full Willets Point redevelopment will completely re-imagine the area’s 62 acres and lead to the creation of thousands of units of mixed-income housing, more than a million square feet of retail and entertainment space, office space, open space, parks and playgrounds, the city’s first convention center outside of Manhattan, and a new public school. Taken together, this ambitious project will create more than 5,300 permanent jobs, 18,000 construction-related jobs, and have a total economic impact of $4.2 billion over the next 30 years.
The new Willets Point -- which will be next door to some of Queens’ most dynamic and popular destinations including Downtown Flushing, Citi Field, and the USTA National Tennis Center -- will become a major engine for economic growth for New York City, generating local employment and business opportunities while improving the overall quality of life for local residents.
Improving the quality of life for New Yorkers is also one of the driving principles behind our “Schoolyard to Playground” initiative. We’ve taken schoolyards across the city and opened them up after school hours, and on weekends, so the whole community can enjoy them. Over the past few years, we’ve converted 134 acres of schoolyards into playgrounds that are now open throughout the year.
Last Wednesday, we opened the 200th such playground at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. This initiative brings us closer to the goal we set in PlaNYC of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.
Whether we’re transforming parts of the city and spurring job growth or improving our quality of life by making open spaces more available; we are focused on laying the groundwork today that will make New York City stronger and more resilient for generations to come.
Safe streets, beautiful parks, clean neighborhoods, exciting cultural opportunities: These are the kinds of things that not only make New York City a great place to live and work, but also the most popular destination in the country for visitors. By every measure, our tourism industry is booming. Last year, we welcomed an all-time-high, 48.8 million visitors. This year, we’re on track to top that. By the end of the year, we will also be home to a total of 90,000 hotel rooms. That’s a record high and a 50 percent increase from a decade ago. 

What’s especially remarkable about our new hotels is that they aren’t all opening where you’d expect, in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. No, they are opening all across the city. In fact, last week, I was in Long Island City to officially cut the ribbon on the Z NYC. This 100-room hotel is the eighth hotel to open in this Queens neighborhood over the past two years. The reason is as clear and compelling as the revival that’s taking place in Long Island City: world-class museums, flourishing film and television studios, easy access to mass transit, and a burgeoning commercial district of its own that will soon be home to Jet Blue’s corporate headquarters.

But make no mistake, our growing tourism industry isn’t only a by-product of our city’s excellent quality of life, it’s also producing real benefits for the people in all five boroughs. Thousands of New Yorkers work in our hotels, part of a leisure and hospitality industry that employs more than 320,000 New Yorkers. The money that tourists spend when they come here ripples through our local economy to support hundreds of thousands of more jobs.

Jobs were also on the menu at the new Fairway market that opened last week in Douglaston, Queens. The new Fairway, a first for the borough, created more than 400 jobs for New Yorkers. That’s in addition to the nearly 500 new jobs created by the recently opened Fairway on the Upper East Side. Our Department of Small Business Services has been working with the supermarket chain to recruit and train local residents, including veterans, for many of these new jobs.

Fairway’s new locations are one more sign that businesses, big and small, have confidence in New York City’s future. They’re opening, they’re expanding, and most importantly, they’re hiring. This growth is a big part of the reason why New York City entered the national recession later and emerged from it faster than the rest of the country. It’s also a reason why we’ve been able to regain some 78 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, while the rest of the country has regained only 21 percent.

Keeping this job growth going is our top priority. Every day we wake up focused on creating more jobs, putting more New Yorkers to work, giving our economy a boost when it needs it, and building our city’s future for generations to come.
Union Square Manhattan New York City 2010

When Ken Rothman’s father passed away in 1985, Ken came down from Boston to close up the clothing store his father owned on Fifth Avenue. But when he arrived here, he had second thoughts and instead poured his heart into reviving the family business. He moved the store into a former bank building on Union Square, which at the time was racked with abandonment and crime. Ken then teamed up with his brother, Jim, and together they got to work rebranding the business and, in the process, helping turn the neighborhood around.

Today, Union Square is one of the most vibrant, dynamic areas of our city – and the Rothman’s store has done so well that it’s moving into a larger location up the block. Rothman’s is a great example of how our city’s retailers can revive neighborhoods, galvanize investment, attract visitors, and create jobs for New Yorkers. Helping more retailers achieve these goals will give our economy the kind of boost it needs during these tough times. And that’s why last week, in partnership with the City Council, we unveiled a package of initiatives to support neighborhood retailing corridors.

They include, for example, a training program for local economic development leaders to sharpen their skills in promoting and strengthening their retail districts. We’ll also work with community organizations to determine the retail needs of their neighborhoods and then to attract the kinds of businesses that are currently lacking. We will create a competition to fill temporarily vacant spaces around the city with “pop-up stores,” which are a great way for generating buzz for neighborhoods and bringing in more shoppers. And we will set up a new online portal for the retail industry, which will contain a database of vacant properties, marketing and demographic information about neighborhoods, and a list of the City’s programs to help retailers. 

To put more New Yorkers to work and to keep our economic recovery on track, we’re also investing in growing industries that have a bright future in our city – like food manufacturing. Even in these difficult economic times, we’ve seen a 14 percent increase in the number of food manufacturing businesses in our city over the past three years alone. That’s great news, especially for our immigrant communities – because our research shows that 70 percent of New Yorkers who hold jobs in food manufacturing are immigrants.

To help more of these businesses get off the ground, we’ve opened two kitchen “incubators” in Long Island City and East Harlem, where startup manufacturers, caterers, and bakers can access space and equipment at below-market rates. And last week, we held our first food expo, where we connected more than 100 immigrant food manufacturers with brokers, buyers, and wholesalers who can help their businesses grow. 

Efforts like these are keeping our economy moving in the right direction. More entrepreneurs are launching their ideas here. More established businesses like Rothman’s are expanding here. And when we foster that kind of innovation and enterprise, it helps create the new jobs that New Yorkers need.

The Revival of Brooklyn’s Waterfront

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New York City was once one of the great manufacturing capitals of the world, until many of those businesses migrated to other parts of the globe where they were able to find cheaper land and cheaper labor. But we’ve always believed that New York must be a place where people can find good jobs in making and moving products. And now, thanks to the investments we’re making to diversify our economic base and put more New Yorkers to work, that’s happening on a substantial scale.

Specifically, we’ve set in motion an ambitious plan to revive Brooklyn’s working waterfront and catalyze the creation of some 11,000 new industrial jobs there over the next two decades. You can already see some of the fruits of those labors in the new businesses that are moving into the area. Phoenix Beverages, for instance, is opening a new shipping facility that will not only take some 20,000 trucks a year off the road, but also create and preserve 600 jobs. Sims Municipal Recycling is opening a recycling facility at the 30th Street Pier, which will also eliminate truck trips and create 100 jobs. And the Axis Group is building a new cargo terminal at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which will create 600 more jobs. 

Last week, we moved forward on another significant investment in our industrial sector: the redevelopment of a mammoth warehouse in Sunset Park endearingly known as Federal Building Number Two. The warehouse, which is as big as Macy’s department store at Herald Square, was built in 1916 for the U.S. Navy, but for the past decade it has sat completely empty. In May, we brokered the sale of the building to a development company that is now going to transform the facility into a new hub for small industrial businesses. We expect this project will create 400 construction jobs and lead to at least 1,300 industrial jobs — jobs that are especially important to immigrants and those who are climbing the first rungs of the economic ladder.

Creating more jobs is our administration’s number-one job, and we’re waging this effort on many fronts — even in areas that you wouldn’t normally expect. Take traffic congestion, for example. Traffic jams aren’t just a headache for those who are stuck in them; they can also be job killers — by robbing businesses of valuable time that instead could be spent selling products and serving customers. 

What’s especially aggravating is the traffic caused by unnecessary road construction. How many times have you seen a street get torn up for maintenance or repair work, repaved, and then ripped up all over again for another project? Well, we’re working to make that kind of aggravation a thing of the past thanks to a new online system we’ve unveiled that brings together city agencies, utility companies, and construction firms to coordinate their projects and reduce unnecessary road work. There will be higher fines, too, for those who flout the rules and dig up streets without a permit. It’s a simple fix to an age-old problem and it’s going to help keep traffic moving, which is vital to keeping our economy moving, too. 
Creating a greenway encircling Manhattan’s 32-mile waterfront has been a dream that’s bedeviled New York City for more than two decades. But we believe in dreaming big, and in finding innovative solutions where others just see obstacles. Under our administration, we’ve been able to stitch together — piece-by-piece, block-by-block — a succession of parks and promenades from Inwood to the Battery. And last week, we reached an agreement that allows us to bridge the biggest gap in the greenway, and overcome the biggest obstacle to completing a ribbon of green around Manhattan.

The agreement centers on a potential deal with the United Nations that would create substantial proceeds for the city to build a mile-long esplanade along the East River between 38th and 60th streets. The residents of that neighborhood have some of the lowest access to parks and public space in the entire city. But now, they’re going to get a spectacular waterfront park right on their doorstep — and one that significantly advances our efforts to reclaim our precious waterfront for the benefit of all.

Besides improving our health and quality of life, reviving New York City’s 578 miles of waterfront goes to the heart of our strategy of creating jobs and growing our economy. That’s because in today’s world, the most dynamic businesses gravitate to wherever they can find the most talented people — and the most talented people are more mobile than ever. That ramps up the pressure on us to do everything we can to make our city an even better place to live and work — and enhancing our neighborhoods and public spaces is a big part of that.

We’re seeing a lot of evidence that this strategy for creating jobs is paying off. Last week for instance, I joined Twitter, one of the world’s most innovative companies, in opening their East Coast headquarters in our city. By establishing its presence in New York, Twitter joins a tech community that’s growing by leaps and bounds. And because innovation is a great engine for job growth, we continue to increase our support for the tech industry by investing in start-ups and providing discounted office space to help get their ideas off the ground. New tech jobs, in turn, also support and help create jobs in other industries — from retail to restaurants to small businesses of every kind. 

Last week, another major company signaled that New York City is the place to be. Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it’s making our city the year-round home port for its newest passenger ship — the Norwegian Breakaway — which will be the largest ship ever to be based in our city. That will mean more tourists spending money in our city, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs up and down the economic ladder, and moving us closer to our goal of attracting 50 million visitors a year by 2012.

Of course, tourism wouldn’t be booming — and our cruise ship industry wouldn’t be so healthy — if New York wasn’t the world’s most exciting port of call. Our restaurants, our hotels, our historic sites and tourist attractions, the diversity of our neighborhoods, are unparalleled. And with the completion of the Manhattan Greenway now visible on the horizon, our city’s future looks brighter than ever. 
Small businesses have always provided the heartbeat of our city’s economy. They account for 50% of the jobs in our private sector workforce. They push our economy forward with new ideas, services, and products, and they are the glue that holds our neighborhoods together. Creating more jobs for New Yorkers during this downturn requires us to keep investing in our small businesses — and one of the best ways we can do that is through Business Improvement Districts.

BIDs rose to fame a couple of decades ago because of their success in transforming Times Square and Union Square from areas racked by abandonment and crime into the dynamic neighborhoods they are today. BIDs are essentially public-private partnerships in which property and business owners channel funds towards various activities to improve and promote their retail corridors — including street cleaning, street improvements, additional security, holiday lighting, and marketing. Our administration has actively supported BIDs because they are an important tool for improving our quality of life and creating jobs. The more attractive our commercial districts are, the more shoppers they’ll attract, and the more our small businesses will thrive. And that’s why we’ve made it considerably easier for BIDs to form, and for BIDs to grow. 

Last week, I signed legislation that creates two exciting new Business Improvement Districts — one in Chinatown, and one along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. That brings the total number of BIDs formed under our administration to 22 — more than any other previous administration — and 19 of them are outside of Manhattan, including the very first one on Staten Island.

In total, there are now 66 BIDs in all five boroughs — the most of any city in America. Collectively, these BIDs contributed over $100 million in services to more than 64,000 businesses during the past year. They employ more than 1,200 sanitation workers, public safety agents, and other staff. Our BIDs are also about bringing merchants together and harnessing their resources to take already-bustling commercial districts to the next level. And you can see that happening on Fordham Road in the Bronx, where merchants have joined together to clean the blocks of graffiti, or on Forest Avenue in Staten Island, where businesses have hosted special events to enliven the streets and attract more shoppers. 

Building great, attractive neighborhoods is one of the pillars of our strategy for creating jobs and growing our economy. And building great neighborhoods happens by building great partnerships. City government can’t do everything we’d like to do — that’s why public-private partnerships are so important. We all want our small businesses to thrive and grow and hire more people — and through Business Improvement Districts, we’re all working together to make that come true.

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