James Patchett

James Patchett

President & CEO | NYCEDC

James Patchett is a proponent of affordable housing and a principal driver of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to create 100,000 jobs within ten years. Patchett became President and CEO of NYCEDC in February 2017.

New York City Doubles Down

New York City Doubles Down

James Patchett, president and CEO of New York’s Economic Development Corporation, talks about how 20th-century strengths are creating 21st-century opportunities

New York has always been a place of economic opportunity and innovation. In the words of former Mayor Ed Koch, it’s the place where “the future comes to audition.” But there has perhaps never been a better time to live in New York than right now. In recent years our city has undergone a renaissance and is now riding an unprecedented wave of ­prosperity.

Today, New York is home to 4.5 million jobs, a figure that continues to grow each month. From Goldman Sachs to American Express to AIG, we have more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the United States. And in 2015, our gross city product was $805B, more than Argentina or Switzerland. Add in the entire New York metro area, and we would have the 13th largest GDP in the world, just ahead of Australia’s.

And in 2015, our gross city product was $805B, more than Argentina or Switzerland. Add in the entire New York metro area, and we would have the 13th largest GDP in the world, just ahead of Australia.

Our soaring economy is due in large part to our workforce, the most talented anywhere. Today, 2.4 million New Yorkers have a bachelor’s degree or above, more than Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. combined. Our workforce is also the most diverse in the U.S. There are more than 800 languages spoken throughout the city, and almost 50 percent of local business owners are immigrants. The world’s brightest minds and deepest thinkers want to be here to synergize with other thought leaders and push society ­forward.

New Yorkers are moving the needle in a number of fields, from fashion to finance to food distribution. All of these industries are being transformed by our growing tech sector. Today, New York has the second largest startup ecosystem in the world, with over 9,000 startups; last year, venture capital firms invested $11B into them. We also are committed to making our tech sector the most inclusive in the world. Our Computer Science For All initiative is bringing computer science education to every single one of the city’s 1,700 public schools, and our Tech Talent Pipeline connects New Yorkers from every background with in-demand positions at major firms.

Today, New York has the second largest startup ecosystem in the world, with over 9,000 startups; last year, venture capital firms invested $11B into them.

Our economic success is validated by our rising tourism and population numbers. The city welcomed more than 60 million visitors last year, perhaps because we have the hippest nightlife, most avant-garde restaurant scene, and myriad top-rated museums and galleries. And more people are putting down permanent roots here, too; the city’s population is expected to grow to 9 million by 2040, up from 8.5 million today.

If you have been to New York recently, you have probably felt this energy. The city is safer, more diverse, and more vibrant than ever before.   

But all this prosperity doesn’t mean we are just sitting back and enjoying this remarkable period of growth. We have to build a resilient economy for future New Yorkers. We can’t stop thinking ahead or innovating.

For us, innovation doesn’t just mean building entirely new fields from scratch (though we do that, too). It also means working tirelessly to improve our existing economy to ensure we keep our competitive advantages. And there are perhaps no two industries in which we have competitive advantages, and are more in need of innovation, than real estate and ­finance.

New York has long been the capital of finance, insurance, and real estate. According to the New York State Comptroller, Manhattan’s three main business districts (Midtown, Midtown South, and Lower Manhattan) together have 450 million sq. ft. of office space, more than a quarter of the office space in all the nation’s business districts combined. And Wall Street is synonymous with the world’s most successful investment banks, from Citigroup to Credit Suisse.

To keep New York ahead of the pack, we have committed to making sizable investments in these fields to further propel them into the 21st century.

Staying ahead in real estate means creating office space for the jobs of the future. Right now, we are seeing shifts in the type of offices in demand. The 20th-century art-deco skyscrapers that dot the city skyline are now out of vogue. Instead, tenants want uber-modern buildings with open layouts, common spaces, and amenities.

To meet demand for the projected additional 60 million sq. ft. of office space needed by 2025, New York has rezoned large swaths of the city, including the East Midtown central business district. This strategy has already proven to be effective; last month, J.P. Morgan announced plans to build a world-class, 2.5 million square-foot headquarters on Park Avenue. Down the street, real estate pioneer SL Green is in the process of constructing One Vanderbilt, one of the city’s most anticipated skyscrapers in decades.

But there are many entrepreneurs who don’t want space in East Midtown. They would rather be in converted Long Island City warehouses or co-working spaces in Williamsburg. To that end, New York is rethinking how to enliven some of its traditionally residential neighborhoods. Last September, city government approved a rezoning plan for Downtown Far Rockaway, a community at the edge of the Rockaway Peninsula. This plan also included a $288M commitment to build new commercial space and shore up aging infrastructure. Rezonings like those in East Midtown and Downtown Far Rockaway ensure the city is creating the real estate cutting-edge companies need to thrive.

Now, we are investing in growing the city’s cybersecurity sector to become the industry’s global capital, home to over 100 cyber companies and 6,000 related jobs.

New York’s banks and financial services firms also need to think how they will stay ahead in an increasingly competitive environment. To keep our institutions leaders in the field, the city has committed itself to becoming the epicenter of finance-adjacent fields. We have already established ourselves as the home of financial technology (FinTech) and banking law. Now, we are investing in growing the city’s cybersecurity sector to become the industry’s global capital, home to over 100 cyber companies and 6,000 related jobs.

As the number of online threats increases, cybersecurity has become increasingly important to financial institutions. If you are Morgan Stanley or Citibank, being prepared for cyberattacks and safeguarding your clients’ assets are non-negotiables. Knowing this, banks across the city are paying enormous sums to protect themselves. In 2015, J.P. Morgan spent half a billion dollars on cybersecurity and still felt like they needed more surveillance.

To ensure New York cements its place as the cyber capital of the world, we are investing millions of dollars to create the first publicly-funded Cyber Center in the world. This physical space will connect financial institutions with cyber companies and their newest technology, as well as be a first-rate lab of discovery as the field evolves.

By shoring up our existing industries like real estate and finance, we will ensure their success and the city’s continued economic leadership.