Nov. 19, Op-Ed By Thomas J. Grech
There is a lot to love about Queens, and specifically Long Island City.
With our rich diversity, thriving arts and culture scene, access to public transportation and airports, and great universities, it’s easy to see why businesses, both large and small, see our community as a place where they can grow and thrive.
It’s these assets that made Long Island City so appealing to Amazon in the first place. Although the company withdrew their plans to move to our neighborhood, taking tens-of-thousands of quality jobs and billions in investment for job training, workforce development, and infrastructure with them, we now have a unique opportunity to craft an even better vision for the future of our waterfront from the grassroots up.
After Amazon’s withdrawal, the City Council and City government brought in developers with property interests along the waterfront and challenged them to do what the community has long been asking for: create a comprehensive plan for the waterfront so we don’t have to evaluate projects on a piecemeal basis. And three developers have stepped up to the plate – TF Cornerstone, Simon Baron Development, and L&L MAG – to do just that. A new comprehensive planning process for the Long Island City waterfront is giving the community a seat at the table and putting the needs of residents front and center.
Your LIC – the new community-driven planning process being led by the developers and the City – is kicking off with an online conversation and public workshop focusing on economic empowerment and career development, with the workshop taking place this Thursday, November 21st 6:00pm at Jacob Riis Settlement. This is the time for the community to come together and have your priorities heard.
With this new process, all of Long Island City has the opportunity to weigh in on what specifically they believe will make a difference in their lives. There will not only be a public workshop but multi-day online engagement where you can voice your ideas, even if you are unable to make the in-person session (visit YourLIC.nyc).
To truly create an inclusive plan for the waterfront, the development consortium needs to hear from everyone – including local residents, business owners, workers, entrepreneurs, and students. We are starting with a blank slate and we have the opportunity to really plan for what will move the needle for our residents, including empowering local entrepreneurs, job training to build careers in high-growth sectors, ownership, and access to the resources people need to overcome barriers to employment, such as child care and mental health services.
Your LIC’s workforce development program and community engagement process is being led by Dr. Gail Mellow and Bishop Mitchell Taylor. These are two community leaders we can trust, and both have been fighting for Long Island City for decades. The first workshop on November 21st on economic empowerment is just the start of the process. Future workshops and online conversations will focus on schools, culture, resiliency, public open space, infrastructure, housing, and mobility.
This is an opportunity for actual change, and it is critical for every single person in Long Island City to play a role. By being a part of this process, we can help create jobs for our families and neighbors, build not just workforce development programs that serve our diverse community, but actual pathways to long-lasting careers.
We need to comprehensively plan, as a community, how to best leverage our assets to ensure Queens remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and grow a business. Economic development in Long Island City can benefit everyone – from local residents to small businesses to larger employers. Let’s seize this opportunity to create a plan for the waterfront that is grounded in the community’s vision and priorities and will lead to a bright future for our families. Visit YourLIC.nyc for more information and to get involved!
Thomas J. Grech is the President & CEO of The Queens Chamber of Commerce