Column: A Bronx blueprint for recovery

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Construction taking place on Soundview Avenue.
File photo

In early March, Mayor Eric Adams and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer announced their blueprint for the future of New York City’s economic development at the Hunts Point Produce Market. I was ecstatic to have this historic announcement be made here in The Bronx. Our presence there not only pushed against the history of divestment in our borough, but also put The Bronx at the forefront of our city’s plans of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At its highest point, unemployment in the Bronx peaked at nearly 25% in May 2020, the highest rate among all the boroughs. This was because more than 70% of Bronx residents were working in essential industries that required in-person work. We not only need more jobs, but jobs that have protections in place and provide sustainable growth for our communities.

As the chair of the Committee on Economic Development, I have made it clear that our city’s recovery relies on the recovery of all our outer-boroughs, and for me, especially The Bronx. So far, as chair, my committee has had two hearings. The first was on the preliminary budget of the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a pseudo-agency that my committee oversees. Myself and other council members’ main questions were around job growth as it relates to our recovery from COVID-19.

EDC President Andrew Kimball pointed us to the new projects that the mayor has invested in so far. The exact numbers on these projects are as follows:

  • Life Sciences: $10 million invested in building accessible internships in the industry.
  • Hunts Point: $140 million invested to better the markets infrastructure ($100 million) and for the surrounding area ($40 million).
  • South Brooklyn Marine Terminal: $57 million invested to support construction and the creation of 13,000 local jobs over time.

We cannot afford to have Band-Aid solutions for our plans for economic recovery. We have to think long-term, proactively and most importantly, sustainably. The three investments mentioned do exactly that, but they are not the only ones. The city has committed a total of $191 million to offshore wind projects, which will remove more than 34 million tons of CO2 from the city – the equivalent of removing around 500,000 cars for 15 years. We are creating jobs, reducing our carbon footprint, and generating income for our city – these are the intersectional ideas I as chair will make sure there are plenty more of.

Our second hearing was in conjunction with the Committee on Oversight and Investigation, chaired by Council Member Gale Brewer, to provide oversight on the past and present plans for NYC’s workforce development by the Mayor’s Office on Workforce Development, the Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Services. During the hearing, we discussed how agencies reevaluate and prioritize which programs need funding. I also asked how they fill in the gaps for industry inequity. For example, what are we doing to get more women in construction? We then heard from more than 45 organization’s testimony on what work they have been doing to support the development of our collective workforce and how city agencies can better support their goals and initiatives.

There has never been a more important time for New York City. How our local leaders show up for our workers will serve as an example for the rest of the nation on what a true equitable recovery looks like.

Community Celebrations

Bangladesh Independence Day takes place on March 26 to commemorate the country’s declaration of independence from Pakistan in 1971. You can celebrate the holiday by visiting Starling Avenue in Parkchester to support Bangladeshi small businesses that have supported our working-class community like Neerob Restaurant and Starling Daily & Grocery.

Amanda Farías is the councilmember for the 18th District, representing parts of Castle Hill, Clason Point, Harding Park, Parkchester, Shorehaven and Soundview. To read her previous column on the representation of women in city and state politics, click here

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