After two years of a pandemic in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams hopes to steer his city toward economic renewal by attracting tourists, sprucing up streets and embracing New York’s legal pot industry.
Adams, a Democrat who was elected last year on a pro-business, anti-crime message, on Thursday unveiled an economic development plan that he said would usher in a “New New York.”
“We will never be the same again. COVID has changed that. And we have to be ready to win in the game,” Adams said.
New York City, with a population of 8.8 million, became the first epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and was again at the center of the storm last winter when the omicron variant appeared.
COVID-19 has cratered New York’s economy, driving the unemployment rate from a pre-pandemic rate of 3.7% to over 20% in May 2020.
The rate in December was 8.8%, higher than the state and U.S. rates as a whole. About 66,000 businesses have closed at any given time, including more than 26,000 permanently, according to the mayor’s office.
As virus case and death rates have fallen sharply, the new mayor has sought closure, saying the virus cannot control the lives of New Yorkers and the city must come back.
“We cannot fall into post-COVID. We need to start thinking about redefining what our city is going to look like,” Adams said Thursday.
The mayor’s plan calls for helping small businesses and developing specific industries, including pharmaceuticals, medical technology and other parts of the life sciences sector, manufacturing, video games and the legal gaming industry. pot.
New York legalized recreational use of marijuana last year for those over 21, but recreational sales aren’t expected to begin until late this year or early next year as the state sorts out regulations for what should be one of the largest legal US markets for pot. .
The mayor’s office estimates the industry will generate $1.3 billion in sales and between 19,000 and 24,000 jobs.
Adams has already made a name for himself in the industry, gifting rolling papers and a fake bag of marijuana to Stephen Colbert during an appearance on his late-night show while presenting the host with themed gifts. from New York.
Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said Thursday his office is committed to helping the industry grow in a socially equitable way, helping those affected by the war on drugs to find industry opportunities, such as pro bono legal services, licensing application assistance, financing and marketing.
“We unfairly targeted black and brown communities during marijuana, brutal arrests that I fought against when I was a police officer,” Adams said.
The mayor said he wanted to build tourist awareness in New York and invite people from around the world to visit and spend money. Tourism fell from 66.6 million visitors in 2019 to 22.3 million in 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Adams not only wants to improve the city’s image through marketing, but said he wants to improve public safety by reducing crime and tackling perceptions of crime and “disorder.”
Adams’ new plan also calls for a focus on beautifying the city, prioritizing street cleaning and removing graffiti and trash. The city will add benches, bike racks, planters and other amenities to business districts around the city, according to the plan, and set long-term standards for outdoor street food structures. and the sidewalks that have been a lifeline for the city’s restaurants.
“We need to have a clean city, and every part of the city is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves,” Adams said. “When our streets aren’t clean, it sends the wrong message.”