Friday, April 24, 2009

Growing NYC?

"In short, maintaining our city's economic engine is essential, but it can and should be done within a social contract that promises to share prosperity, increase opportunity, and fully involve all stakeholders in determining the city's future."

NELP, Jobs with Justice, Pratt Center, "One City One Future: A Blueprint for Growth That Works for All New Yorkers," April 2009.

This is a great compilation of practical, progressive ideas developed by hundreds of groups over four years for making New York's economy better serve all its citizens. It starts from the premise of the "big squeeze," the loss of middle-income jobs, skyrocketing costs, and lack of services. The report offers 54 recommendations in three strategic categories for turning things around: raise the standards, invest for shared growth, and reform the process. There are four overarching goals: good jobs, affordable housing, greening, and quality of life.

It was only yesterday that we took economic growth for granted -- as does One City One Future. The report says little about growth -- except greening -- but a lot about sharing. This absence tends to be a shortfall in a lot of local progressive planning about economic development. How do economies grow? Or should we just take that for granted in the midst of a deep recession?

A second shortfall of One City One Future and many others like it is that we don't get a sense of "so what." The exhaustive list of strategies and projects certainly contains most of my favorites. Although challenging to do, rolling up these strategies into projections for increased jobs, incomes, etc. would have been helpful. Are they all equal in importantce? Likewise, it would be useful to know the costs of these approaches. Are they affordable?

Despite these drawbacks it's heartening to have these strategies compiled for one place.

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