Through our regional outreach, the New York Fed is looking to identify and understand the dominant economic themes in the Second District. Recognizing that economic realities can vary significantly by region, we meet with business, community, and government leaders to get on-the-ground insights to help inform our understanding of the national and regional economies. We support our external stakeholders by drawing attention to emerging or prominent themes, attending and convening events or roundtables to share information and potential solutions, and making crucial connections in support of our mission of economic prosperity for all.
Our team meets with business, community, and government leaders throughout the Federal Reserve’s Second District. Some highlights of our recent conversations:
October, Long Island – Black and Latino business owners said the business community was not prepared for the pandemic. For instance, several said they did not know who to turn to for guidance on PPP loans and other emergency needs. Several owners noted that many still struggle with start-up fundamentals, including corporate formation, state registration, and obtaining an employer identification number. Top challenges the business owners see for 2024 include access to and cost of capital, growing their business, and finding qualified workers.
October, Norwalk – The city’s real estate market remains active, with development progressing. City officials say the retail and office markets have been stable. Smaller office users and the movement of companies into leased space rather than owned properties are offsetting Class A office vacancies. The area’s economic development discussions covered the first rezoning effort in more than thirty years and the adoption of a waterfront development plan along the Norwalk Harbor, which has drawn concern over adding density in an area with flooding challenges. The city will take on a resiliency study to further unlock development potential within the flood plain.
September, Brooklyn – Nonprofit leaders said they face challenges finding the time and money to build their organizations’ skills through workforce and professional development. Nonprofit leaders also said staff burnout is a challenge.
August, The Bronx – The Bronx Economic Development Corporation recently created a $10 million community advantage loan fund for businesses in the South Bronx empowerment zone, which includes Hunts Point, Port Morris, and Yankee Stadium. Loans will range from $5,000 to $350,000, with the goal of helping businesses grow through investments in payroll, inventory, and equipment.
August, The Bronx – The produce market is the largest in the country and an important part of local and national food infrastructure. Every year, 2.5 billion pounds of produce pass through the wholesale market, which is a cooperative of multi-generational merchants. That produce, sourced from 49 states and 55 countries, feeds 22 million people and supplies more than 23,000 restaurants. In order to keep up with demand and increase distribution, the market is expected to undergo a $650 million redevelopment that would double its refrigerator space, expand pallet capacity, and facilitate the conversion from diesel to electric freight trucks. The redevelopment will support the creation of 1,000 new high-paying union industrial jobs. After a tough first half of the year, when the market operated at a loss for the first time since the 1960s, business is stabilizing.
July, The Bronx – NYC’s Economic Development Corporation recently completed a nine-month community vision process to help determine the future development of the Kingsbridge Armory, a 1917 military facility in the Bronx. The building, owned by New York City, has a 180,000 square-foot drill hall and 120-foot ceilings—roughly the height of an 11-story apartment building. The community’s top preferences for the building’s use are prioritizing youth, jobs that pay well, and fostering intergenerational relationships. Possible sectors that might be interested in the building are emerging technology, film, sustainable manufacturing, and urban agriculture.
July, Long Island – Tourism rates on Long Island have returned to pre-pandemic levels of 2-3% year-over-year growth after experiencing double digit growth over the last couple of years. Agriculture and wine businesses say wage increases and labor shortages are hurting profits, adding that a lack of affordable housing makes hiring harder.
June, Yonkers – A bakery that uses an open hiring model—no resumes, no required skills or experience, no interviews, no background checks—has a list of 500 people interested in jobs. Separately, a casino applying for a table gaming license may need approximately 2,000 more employees if the application is granted.
June, Yonkers – The film industry in Yonkers has grown to rival New York City’s, driven by Yonkers’s lower costs. Yonkers officials told the New York Fed’s Regional Outreach team that a one-million-square foot film production campus has opened with Lionsgate as the anchor tenant. The campus will also include a new Yonkers public school that would teach film and TV production in addition to the regular public school curriculum.
April, New Rochelle – To encourage more construction of affordable housing, the city changed its zoning and streamlined its permitting and approval process, resulting in thousands of approvals for housing permits in the last few years and with some approved in less than 90 days.