BY JOE MARVILLI
While speaking to Queens College students and faculty on Nov. 18, William Dudley, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, delivered encouraging news about the state of the Queens economy.
According to Dudley, New York City as a whole just experienced a summer full of solid job creation, mostly through the contributions of Main Street, not Wall Street. The prevalence and diversity of small businesses have created a robust economy with many opportunities popping up.
“Historically, Wall Street has been the driver of the economy, both up and down,” he said. “This time, Wall Street hasn’t really come back strongly but the City is still doing well. Leisure, hospitality, education, healthcare, business and professional services; one of really positive things you can say is the economy is a lot more diversified now than it was 20 years ago.”
Queens’ large population center has led many of these industries to thrive, along with manufacturing. The most concentrated industry in the Borough though, according to Dudley, is air transportation, which employs around 27,000 workers, equal to about five percent of its jobs.
The Borough’s continued growth is particularly impressive given the damage it sustained last year from Superstorm Sandy. Dudley mentioned that many neighborhoods, such as the Rockaways and Howard Beach, are still recovering from the damage. However, employment quickly bounced back and surpassed the Borough’s pre-Sandy levels earlier this year.
Small businesses have played a key role in Queens’ continued growth, especially those that have been established for some time. While those with an established track record are doing well, life is more difficult for start-ups, due to how tight it is to get credit.
“For [established small businesses], there’s not any problem getting credit. For the start-up companies, it’s still very hard. How did a start-up company start back in 2005, 2006? It was really family and friends, home equity loans, credit cards,” Dudley said. “The credit conditions have tightened quite a bit on home equity loans, often because there is not as much equity in the homes to start with, and credit cards.”
The combination of local and national banks within the Borough and the City has been helpful to small business growth as well, Dudley said. The two types of banks work in tandem to cover the needs of businesses both large and small.
“I’m a big fan of community bankers,” he said. “To me, community bankers provide a service that’s a little different than the very large banks because they really are close to their customers. They know their customers better. I think a lot of them tailor products and credit to fit the particular circumstance of their customer. I think we’re lucky we have a dual-banking system.”
The condition of New York City as a whole is another trait in Queens’ continued growth. With low crime, a good higher education system and a “reasonable” tax rate, the City is ideal for commercial businesses and developers, like the real estate market, to thrive.
“Queens is going to benefit in a number of different respects. The upward trajectory of real estate in Manhattan, that’s already spilling over into Queens. You’re going to see more real estate development as the cost of housing in Manhattan continues to go up,” Dudley said.
With all of these resources combined, Dudley said the outlook is bright for the future of Queens’ economy over the next few years. He believes that if New York stays on the path that led the City through the recession, growth will continue in all of the boroughs.
“When I talk to commercial real estate developers, they say, ‘New York City? Definitely want to be here,’” he said. “As long as we keep those attributes in place, safety in the City, high-quality education establishments, a reasonable level of taxation, I think things will be very positive.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.