Thursday, April 09, 2009

NYC EDC head on recent past: "We’ve been much more the 'Real Estate Development Corporation'"

The current issue of City Hall News contains excerpts from a March 13 "On/Off the Record" breakfast session with New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky.

I've bolded the money quote:
Q: You are the president of the Economic Development Corporation. At this moment of recession, general economic turmoil, what do those words even mean?

A: It’s an interesting question and something that I spent some time over the holidays contemplating. What I found is that people between September and the end of the year were coming up to me and saying, “Gee, Economic Development Corporation, economic downturn, you must be extremely busy.” The truth is, I was extremely busy, I am extremely busy, our whole agency was extremely busy. But we were busy on a lot of the same stuff we’d always been busy on. We weren’t really addressing the economic downturn. And I tried to figure out why that was. What occurred to me was that, really, for much of the last several years, even though we call ourselves the Economic Development Corporation, we’ve been much more the “Real Estate Development Corporation”, and that’s been because the economy has been growing on its own without much need for the city’s interference. We’ve been playing around on the margins but not really trying to increase demand because demand was increasing so quickly on its own. So since that epiphany that I had—that maybe shouldn’t have been such an epiphany—we’ve really been focused since December on trying, of course, to continue our work in real estate development and to make sure that the physical city continues to evolve, but also to try and encourage more growth in the underlying economy. Because what we realize now is that it’s not just about accommodating demand, which for much of the last seven years has been the city’s primary challenge, it’s about creating that demand in the first place.

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