Leadings members of the business community said New York City’s economic future depended heavily on whether or not Bill de Blasio would continue Bloomberg’s support for the tech industry and tax credits at a panel discussion on the future of New York today.
The annual Crain’s and Partnership for New York City conference on the future of New York City kicked off with Thomas H. Glocer of Angelic Ventures moderating a panel discussion between Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner, Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE, Inc., Charles E Phillips, CEO of Infor and Alan D. Schwartz of Guggenheim Partners, Inc.
All five panelists expressed some of the collective anxiety felt by the business community as they prepare for a new mayor who ran on a populist message and has vowed to tax wealthy New Yorkers. So it is no surprise that the business leaders’ recommendations to Bill de Blasio focused on the continuation of some of Bloomberg’s pro-business policy initiatives.
Tax credits for the film and television industry was particularly important to Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of Time Warner.
“If you want to target an industry [like film and TV] that is so important to the image attractiveness of New York, it’s really important that we keep this [tax credit],” Bewkes said. Bewkes also said that the number of jobs created by the film and television industry justified the tax credits, and hoped that Bill de Blasio would continue them during his administration.
Panelists also expressed concern about De Blasio’s proposal to tax wealthy New Yorkers. Real estate mogul Mary Ann Tighe pointed out that the real estate industry provides more than one-third of the tax revenue collected from the city.
“Unless we keep that tax base strong, we all know the fall out from that,” Tighe said, implying that real estate businesses could potentially take their business elseshere if the city’s tax policy became unacceptable.
Still, panelists remained optimistic that the new mayor would make the future of the city a priority by supporting the businesss community, particularly the tech industry.
“It’s a vibrant era for technology. There’s a lot happening, we just need space to put more people and we need more engineers here,” said Charles Phillips, CEO of software company Infor.
Phillips and other panelists insisted that the city’s chances of remaining a center of culture and commerce in a rapidly globalizing society depended on its ability to grow and attract more tech talent. The new Cornell-Technion campus on Roosevelt Island was a good start, Phillips said, but he hopes the new mayor will make the work move faster.
“Cornell Technion is great for the city. We just need the people a lot more quickly,” Phillips said.
Business leaders did not express real pessimism about the new administration, despite their concerns about the policies De Blasio ran on during the campaign trail, and instead seemed content to adopt a wait-and-see mentality.
But as the new administration takes their first policy steps, the business community will be evaluating what those policies will mean for maintaining a healthy economic climate.
“During times of change, it’s all about finding common ground so that we stay aligned … all of us who have a vested interest in this city,” Thomas Glocer said.