BY LUIS GRONDA
The funding for the Industrial Business Zones is currently not in the City’s budget, leaving uncertainty for IBZs like those in Maspeth and Ridgewood.
The Mayor’s budget eliminates a $1 million allocation for the program, which is a designated area for manufacturing businesses and jobs and is not rezoned for other uses.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first designed the program, creating 16 IBZs throughout the five boroughs. Some of the zones in Queens, in addition to Maspeth and Ridgewood, include Jamaica, Long Island City and Woodside.
During his campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a plan for manufacturing in the City, including changing restrictions in the zoning code for the IBZs and expanding infrastructure and workforce development programs for manufacturers in IBZs.
De Blasio said he wants to see new types of developments in these zones, as opposed to gas stations and hotels that have been built while Bloomberg was mayor.
Ted Renz, head of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, who was heavily involved in creating the Ridgewood IBZ, said it did surprise him to hear about the funding to the program being cut because there was a lot of talk during de Blasio’s campaign that he wanted to keep as many manufacturing jobs in the City as possible.
Community Board 5 voted in favor of the Ridgewood IBZ last year, despite some opposition from property owners who wanted to convert some buildings in that area to residential apartments. That IBZ is bounded by Irving and Cypress Avenues and Hancock Street, close to the Brooklyn border.
Renz said his hope is the mayor is looking to revamp the program.
“We still believe in manufacturing,” he said. “They’re better paying jobs than jobs in retail.”
Jean Tanler, head of the Maspeth IBZ, said she was a little surprised the funding for the program is currently not available but she is hopeful it will be included by the time the budget is submitted.
She said the IBZs provide businesses with access to finances and types of incentives available to them they otherwise would not have if they were in an industrial zone. The Maspeth IBZ includes parts of major areas in the neighborhood, including Grand, Metropolitan and Maurice Avenues.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.