By Nicole Millman-Falk, CAE
Click image to enlargeJanuary luncheon speaker the Honorable Scott Stringer, Comptroller, City of New York (center), is joined by Joel A. Dolci, CAE, NYSAE President and CEO (left) and Lester Shafran, NYSAE Chair of the Board and Executive Director, Independent Payphone Association.
"It's hard to imagine the New York City economy today and tomorrow without the contributions and dedication of nonprofits and associations," said Scott Stringer, Comptroller of the City of New York, in his address to NYSAE members at our January luncheon. The nonprofit sector contributes about $2 billion to the economy, from renting to publishing, to meetings and conventions, which themselves contribute some $1.2 billion to the local economy. "Indeed, associations and nonprofits are catalysts for the economy," he added. "We also need to factor in the economic contributions from business and members that associations represent."
While New York City is in good fiscal shape, Stringer acknowledged that we are in a race with cities in countries all around the world for business and talent. What is going to continue to make NYC the magnet city that attracts people from all over the world, he noted, is a growing job base, an increase in the minimum wage, less red tape for small business owners, affordable housing, and an improved infrastructure—a tall order, indeed.
"We put up roadblocks for too many families. We have to raise the minimum wage," said Stringer. "You cannot afford to live in the city based on what we pay now." Noting that nobody aspires to grow up and earn the least they can, Stringer added: "The minimum wage is not the aspiration that we have for our kids. We have to move people from the bottom to the middle class. We need to worry about our children. Are they going to get the education they need? Are they going to be able to achieve their dreams and get the jobs to support those dreams?"
Small business has always been the backbone of New York City, "but we are closing them down and sucking them dry," said Stringer. "Every politician loves to go to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies of those small businesses. But the next day, an inspector comes, and doesn't say ‘congratulations’ but instead inspects them out of business."
Speaking two days later at the Association for a Better New York, Stringer announced a Red Tape Commission of small businesses owners and regulatory experts, to be co-chaired by Jessica Lappin, President of the Downtown Alliance, and Michael Lambert with the New York City and Bed-Stuy BID Associations, which will help identify roadblocks that frustrate business owners, discourage innovation, and block efficiency.
Creating affordable housing and an infrastructure are also critical to expanding New York City’s economy. Over last 15 years, New York City has lost 400,000 housing units that rent for $1,000 or less. "We need a federal, state, and city collaboration to build affordable housing on a scale that is needed," said Stringer.
The Comptroller disagreed with an association executive in the audience who said the City needed to build a first-class convention center in Manhattan. "I can get my exhibitors to come to Manhattan, but not to Queens or another borough," said Carter Keithley, President & CEO of the Toy Industry Association.
"People around the world have a thirst to come to Brooklyn and Queens to see what is happening in our outer boroughs," said Stringer. "We may come to realize what people outside our country already know. It might be interesting to have a convention center outside of Manhattan."
New York City needs to get back in the business of building things. "There is nothing like a good construction project that changes the city in a positive way," said Stringer.
Making sure that the city’s proposed budget is fiscally sound and in the best interests of all of New York City is very much a collaborative process. "Together we can make New York City the greatest City in the world," he concluded.
NYSAE January 2015 Luncheon Gallery
Nicole Millman-Falk, CAE, is President of Millman-Falk Communications, LLC, providing strategic communication services for trade associations, professional societies, and donor-based organizations. In addition to her own company, she serves as Editor for Apogee Publications, which provides turnkey association newsletters, magazines, and membership directories. She is Editor of NYSAE’s InView and is Chair of this year’s Awards Committee. She can be reached at 201-652-1687; email@example.com; or through her website at www.millmanfalkcommunications.com.