Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Last night, Karp Strategies’ Ali Sutherland Brown and Tania Marinos attended CoreNet’s event on the role of incentives in the future growth of NYC. Panelists Seth Pinksy of RXR and Michael Grella of Social Equity Ventures explored the nuanced utility, application, and shifting role of incentives. “Incentives,” Pinsky noted, “should be used to fix very targeted, laser-focus problems.” The panelists shared that the pre-Amazon environment for incentives supported critical, catalytic economic development projects including the Cornell Tech campus and Alexandria Center. Even so, the panelists noted that unkept promises from a few “companies behaving badly” and a lack of communication around massive city investments created a toxic environment from which a truly community-involved process could not unfold. In response to this dynamic, panelists relayed that the future of incentives and of public-private partnerships will favor greater direct investment and communication with host communities and their representatives.
Questions from the CoreNet community centered on whether incentives could support the growth of the Bio, Life Science, and Pharmaceutical industries in New York City. To this end, panelists explored the heavy spatial, tech, and staffing needs of those industries and noted that “as a matter of market logic, it doesn’t make sense to have them here.” However, the panelists argued that sales, marketing, and business development staff from these industries are well positioned to work within the five boroughs, and for relevant companies to take advantage of the population and access that the city affords them. All said, Pinsky and Grella concluded that incentives are not the only economic development tool at the city’s disposal and cannot be used to fully defy market logic.