November 2017
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Making Space for Manufacturing


Sustainable cities are those that are able to maintain a healthy mix of jobs, housing and community services. New York’s ability to achieve this balance has recently been bolstered by the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, which pursues innovative land use policies and supports the retention and expansion of manufacturing jobs. The MAS first called for the establishment of such an office in 2001.

With nearly 245,000 New Yorkers working in manufacturing, the big challenge is how to keep labor-intensive, high-performing industries in the city. Increases in rent, rezonings and other factors tend to displace manufacturers and diminish the supply of land for those who wish to expand, or even to remain.

The new office recently unveiled the boundaries of new industrial business zones, and the MAS tesified in support of the boundaries at a hearing on February 3. Depending on the type of zone, businesses relocating to these areas can receive relocation tax credits, while all businesses within the boundaries will receive additional city services, administered by local groups.

But these boundaries need permanence of the sort afforded only by changes to the Zoning Resolution. City Council Member Melinda Katz has proposed legislation that would strengthen existing zoning by limiting the types of allowable uses to only those that support manufacturing. Noxious uses would be allowed only by a special permit from the City Planning Commission. The MAS will continue to support new zoning tools that balance employment needs with other community and citywide needs.

Establishing these new zones and amending current zoning codes would demonstrate the city’s commitment to the manufacturing sector and would allow new and existing businesses to thrive — a critical step in ensuring economic health, diversity and sustainability.