The Partnership for New York City is in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, April 4, for meetings with President Trump and other federal officials. Over 50 CEOs representing New York’s largest private sector employers will participate in a series of conversations with Cabinet Members, Senior White House Officials and leaders of Congress to advocate for federal policies that promote the continued growth and economic vitality of New York City and our country’s other urban centers.
With an economic impact of over $740 billion annually, New York City stands apart as a hub for innovation and opportunity for Americans. Keeping the city at the forefront of global markets requires cooperation at every level of government. In addition to sharing their expertise, Partnership members are looking to learn more about lawmakers and White House goals for enhanced public and private collaboration. Specific topics on the agenda include plans to build bi-partisan support for modernizing infrastructure, improving workforce and job training programs, enhancing national and cyber security, and reforming tax and regulatory policies.
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New York City is in a fiscal position to forego some revenue in its 2017-18 budget to encourage business growth and job creation. It is time to scale back the Commercial Rent Tax, which is unique to this city. Manhattan commands the highest commercial rents in the country and its tenants are heavily taxed in many other ways. Requiring a business tenant in Manhattan to pay a 6% tax on its rent adds insult to injury. The Partnership for New York City joins other business organizations from across the city to urge the mayor and city council to provide CRT relief for some Manhattan employers in order to encourage their growth.
During the darkest days of America’s urban crisis, David foresaw New York’s renaissance. He dedicated himself to mobilizing the collective resources of business, government, labor, and the civic sector, to make this the great world city that it is today. He inspired generations of individual and corporate philanthropists to invest in the city and its great institutions. He worked to ensure that New York would remain an inclusive and open city, welcoming immigrants and sustaining a strong middle class. He led initiatives to build stronger neighborhoods, better schools, a vibrant public transportation system and a more diverse economy. His first job—as an assistant to Mayor LaGuardia—gave him a granular knowledge of the five boroughs that he applied throughout his life. The Partnership’s David Rockefeller Fellows Program, which prepares business executives to expand their civic contributions to New York, is a permanent tribute to his legacy. We also thank the New York State Senate for their resolution mourning the death of David Rockefeller; their warm remembrance further concretizes David Rockefeller matchless contribution to our city and state.
His imprint on the city will never be forgotten.
How the titan of New York business rallied bankers to rebuild the city
By Kathryn Wylde
March 21, 2017
I was introduced to David Rockefeller in 1981 by labor leaders Harry Van Arsdale and Peter Brennan, who wanted New York’s banks to fund the rebuilding of burned-out city neighborhoods with housing for working people. They asked me to write a proposal to give David, who was then CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank. In a matter of months, I ended up as one of the first employees of the Partnership for New York City, responsible for managing a public-private initiative to build 30,000 new homes on vacant lots across the five boroughs.
Up to that point, I shared the stereotypical view of the Rockefellers as New York’s royalty. What I came to learn was that David, who died Monday at 101, was a gentleman, but not a patrician. His values were those that define the culture of New York: generosity, intellectual rigor, can-do spirit, everybody under one big tent.
In establishing the Partnership, David’s first instinct was to include leaders from business and labor, but union leaders turned him down, saying they had constituencies that would not understand. He knew it would take the power of the city’s corporate CEOs to help government deal with the many crises of the day (fiscal, public safety, education and exodus of its middle class, to name a few). But this was a group comprised exclusively of white men who did not reflect the diversity of the city, so David reached out to Harlem real estate executives George Brooker and Lloyd Dickens, Hunter College President Donna Shalala, Arthur Barnes of the New York Urban Coalition, Jewell Jackson McCabe of 100 Black Women and others who could ensure that the Partnership was in touch with the priorities of the entire city.
He scheduled every Partnership board meeting in a different borough. At the first meeting in Brooklyn, one CEO announced that this was a location he preferred to fly over. David was not deterred.
David brought in newly elected President Ronald Reagan and impressed on him that a public-private partnership was something that business and government would do together, not one where the business community was going to take over government’s job. The only time David got upset with me was when I suggested that the banks were backing our housing initiatives because they were mandated to by the Community Reinvestment Act. He firmly responded, “You are wrong. We are doing it because it is the right thing, not because the government told us to.”
True, when the Partnership had its annual meeting at Rockefeller’s Pocantico Hills estate, there was a traffic jam of executive helicopters hovering over Tarrytown. David was, after all, New York royalty. But the unique respect in which he was held was not because of his wealth and power, but rather because of the way he consistently deployed these resources for the greater good of our city and all of its people.
When David finally stepped down as chairman of the Partnership in 1987, Arthur Barnes gave a speech in which he quoted a lyric from an old song: “If I never had a cent, I’d be rich as Rockefeller,” noting that David could have reached down to anyone in the city, but instead he always reached out in a spirit of humility and love.
Kathryn Wylde is President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
The Technion Institute is the engine driving Israel’s emergence as a “Start-up Nation” where tech businesses are thriving. Its partnership with the New York Genome Center represents an opportunity to bring the same ability to generate entrepreneurial activity in the life sciences to our state. This is a very good move on the Governor’s part.
Celmatix was recognized for its innovation in fertility prediction as one of Fast Company’s Top 50 World’s Most Innovative Companies. Celmatix is a biotech company spun out of Weill Cornell that leverages predictive analytics and genomics to create products focused on the treatment of infertility and proactive fertility management.
“New York imposes higher tax rates than any of our international competitors and, within the U.S., only California has moderately higher tax rates than New York City. Texas and Florida, with no personal income taxes, are growing their economy and creating new jobs at a significantly faster pace than New York. Moreover, Downstate accounts for 92% of all personal income tax revenues generated by New York’s highest earners, putting a disproportionate burden on the region that is producing the most jobs and economic growth for the state.”
“The city’s property tax system is in desperate need of reform to achieve fairness and to support public policy objectives. A simple tax cap, like the rest of the state, is not sufficient to address the disproportionate burden that New York City’s tax code places on commercial properties, including rental housing, businesses and utilities. Legislation authorizing appointment of a bipartisan commission is a great first step. We congratulate the State Senate leadership for passing this bill and urge the Assembly and the Governor to follow suit.”