BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Despite a recession and the effects of Superstorm Sandy, a State official called Queens a “classic New York success story that is well-positioned for the future.”
On Dec. 13, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli joined actor Michael J. Fox and local elected leaders to present an economic snapshot of Queens that was glowingly positive, at the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.
“Superstorm Sandy impacted thousands of Queens residents, but the Borough is on the recovery path. With a strong economy, a fast growing and diverse population and several large projects on the horizon, Queens is booming,” DiNapoli said.
According to the reports released by the Comptroller’s office, DiNapoli said Queens County rebounded strongly from the recession over the past two years, with employment now at a record level of nearly 500,000 private sector jobs.
Queens has the highest level of employment among the boroughs outside of Manhattan, growing by 6.6 percent from 2010-2013.
In terms of its unemployment rate, Queens has been consistently lower than the Citywide average over the past two decades.
The County’s population has also grown faster than the Citywide growth rate of 17 percent, reaching 2.3 million in 2012.
The most diverse county in the nation, 120 countries contribute to the borough’s diversity, DiNapoli said.
“The neighborhoods with the greatest economic vitality and growth correlates very closely with those neighborhoods with the highest percentage of immigrant communities,” he said.
Borough President-elect Melinda Katz said even though DiNapoli is here to show what Queens has done and what Queens can do, she has one message and that is, “we have just begun in the Borough of Queens.”
“You should never have to go over a bridge or under a tunnel to get a job,” Katz said. “You should be able to do it here in the Borough of Queens, and the Comptroller has shown that we are on the right steps for that.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) spoke highly of the film and television production that takes place in Astoria and Long Island City.
Silvercup Studios are now the biggest studios in the City with 410,000-square-feet of space and 19 soundstages. Kaufman Astoria Studios now boasts seven soundstages, as well as the City’s only outdoor movie set.
“Culture and the arts really drive the economy of Western Queens,” Van Bramer said. “Funding for the arts generates jobs and other businesses that have grown in Western Queens.”
DiNapoli briefly mentioned some of the major development projects underway in Queens, one of them being Flushing Commons, an $850 million project that includes commercial space, housing and public space, which is expected to be completed by 2014. A three-phase plan has been proposed to redevelop 109 acres on both sides of Citi Field, including Willets Point, over the next two decades. Queens Way, similar to Manhattan’s High Line, has been proposed for a 3.5-mile former Long Island Rail Road line in Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hills and Ozone Park.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.