11:51 am Jun. 21, 2012
Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is running for mayor with the tacit support of the mayor, got top billing today in a speech by a Bloomberg administration official about business-friendliness.
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel name-checked Quinn twice during a speech to the Association for a Better New York, a group founded by the powerful Rudin real estate family, and whose membership includes the city's business elite.
In one press release accompanying the event, Quinn was named in both the header and first sentence, just after the mayor's. In another press release addressing separate aspects of the new initiatives, she was named in one of the sub-heds.
Michael Bloomberg has implied, without ever being completely explicit, that she is his preferred successor among the prospective 2013 candidates.
The city's business establishment also seems to be leaning in her direction, despite moments of tension in recent months over Quinn's passage of living wage and prevailing wage bills, both of which the city's business establishment opposed.
Speaking at the ABNY breakfast at John Jay College of Criminal Justice's sparkling new campus, Steel presented five new initiatives that he said would make it easier to open and operate a business in New York City.
First, he unveiled the appointment of his chief of staff, Tokumbo Shobowale, as the city’s first Chief Business Operations Officer. Among Shobowale's responsibilities will be ensuring that 80 percent of new business applications and renewals are available online by the end of 2012.
He will also apply lessons on customer service gleaned from what Steel described as local "best-in-class customer service" operations like Duane Reade, and Union Square Hospitality.
Steel said, the announcement builds on, among other things, "business customer service proposals made by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn."
Steel said the city would also make it easier, and less expensive, for big real estate projects to move forward in New York City by requiring the city planning department to process more expeditiously applications to alter a development site's land use, something the city says will save developers up to $100 million a year.
He also unveiled measures to foment the creation of Business Improvement Districts in smaller commercial corridors by offering seed funding and enabling BIDS to share overhead expenses.
He said the city would create more Academies for Software Engineering, expanding on a new Fred Wilson-backed high school to open in this fall. Finally, Steel said announced, "In partnership with Speaker Quinn and the City Council," the administration would pursue a series of initiatives to improve broadband access.
"We're always trying to think about what we can do on these issues, and to frame the issues going forward," Steel told reporters following the speech. "These are not issues just for our administration, these are challenges and opportunities for New York City going forward."
Asked if there was any concern that future mayors wouldn't be as business-friendly as Bloomberg has been, he said, "The people will decide that."
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