NYC economy has a tough road ahead says pro-business group

Shant Shahrigian, New York Daily News

After the start of the coronavirus outbreak, wide swaths of the city's economy shut down in a matter of days.

Bringing it back won't be so simple, the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC) said in a report released Monday.

With widespread unemployment, massive profit losses to businesses and huge tax revenue shortfalls, the pro-business group called for greater “public-private” partnerships and lots of tech-savvy to save the city from economic doom.

“New York City has a wealth of tech-savvy entrepreneurs and innovators who should be called upon to reinvent education, health and transit and to update the technological capacity of state and local government in order to meet the demands of a highly digitized, post-COVID-19 economy,” PFNYC stated in its report, titled “A Call for Action and Collaboration.”

The document also lists a range of grim benchmarks for the Big Apple.

With thousands of “non-essential” businesses shut down from mid-March to the start of the city’s reopening earlier this summer, the state has processed a whopping 1.4 million applications for unemployment benefits from New York City residents.

Unemployment in the city reached a jaw-dropping 18.3% in May, according to an analysis cited by PFNYC. As parts of the economy come back to life, the group expects joblessness to average 10.9% next year.

Tax revenue shortfalls placed at $9 billion through mid-2021 prompted Mayor de Blasio to slash the recently passed budget. But PFNYC placed the loss of city and state tax revenues much higher — “$37 billion over the next two fiscal years.”

Add to all this the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and PFNYC is warning of years of potential economic pain.

“COVID-19 has shaken our confidence and tarnished our brand,” the report states. “The pandemic unleashed political, racial and economic tensions that can either leave the nation’s largest and most important urban center in chaos or ... provide the impetus for working together for recovery and positive change.”

While Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo have said saving the city budget depends on billions of dollars in aid from the federal government, PFNYC contended that wouldn’t be enough.

The group called on the government to partner with the private sector in areas from education and child care to job training and tax reform.

PFNYC’s proposed “partnership to disrupt state and local government” includes “re-engineering of bureaucratic, redundant review and approval processes within agencies and authorities.”

The group also sees tech playing a big role, noting it’s “the fastest growing sector and New York City now rivals Silicon Valley as the industry’s second most valuable ecosystem in the world.”

As the city grapples with online learning versus in-person classes, PFNYC envisions businesses helping to make the city “a global Ed Tech hub.”

“Multi-sector leadership must come together in a spirit of hope and collaboration to resolve them,” the report concludes. “The business community is committed to assist and support this effort.”

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