Deputy Mayor Gives Breakfast Crowd Something To Chew On
Robert K. Steel, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development in the Bloomberg Administration, was the featured speaker at the York College Executive Leadership Breakfast Series on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011, where he addressed a crowd of business and non-profit executives, students, faculty and elected officials about plans to grow the New York City economy through development projects scattered throughout the five boroughs.
The presentation showed new construction projects containing thousands of units of affordable housing developed over the past few years, including the old Family Court building on Parsons Boulevard in downtown Jamaica; and includes commercial space.
Introduced by Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, who had his own list of sites and potential projects for downtown Jamaica, Mr. Steel touted projects throughout Queens, including a development in Hunts Point South, which he touted as the “largest affordable housing development at 75 percent” [affordable] that he says will set the pace for revitalization for decades to come.
“When you stop investing in the future, the future hits the road,” said Steel, a former Wachovia CEO. “You don’t want to be one [of those cities] whose future is behind them rather than in front of them.”
In her formal greetings York’s president, Dr. Marcia V. Keizs extolled the students, faculty and alumni accomplishments and gave a brief history of the Breakfast Series.
“You join an impressive list of opinion makers who have spoken at our Breakfast Series,” said Dr. Keizs, listing several former speakers. “The Executive Leadership Breakfast Series was founded in the fall of 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We wondered how we, in our area, would cope with a catastrophic event and how the College would respond as a member of this community. Fortuitously, Congressman Gregory Meeks had the same thought, and with us, hosted Larry Mendel, then-CEO of the United Way of New York City, for a community breakfast to discuss the matter; and an Executive Leadership Breakfast Series was born.”
Steel also discussed the city’s numerous business incubators established under the Bloomberg Administration to encourage small business development; as well as the city’s RFP for an established university to take advantage of free land on Roosevelt Island and a $100 million incentive package to establish a school of science and technology, conceivably making New York City the Silicon Valley of the east coast.
York Journalism students wanted to know why the city would invest in a new university rather than use the resources to strengthen CUNY at a time when tuition is scheduled for an annual increase of $300, to which Steel reiterated the economic development potential of the project.
Councilman Leroy Comrie countered that there is room in Jamaica and at York to accommodate educational investments as well.