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Diversifying Beyond Wall Street
Bob Lieber is Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. In February 2007, Lieber was named President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and became Deputy Mayor in January 2008. Responsible for creating jobs and building capacity in the five boroughs, Lieber guides agencies including NYCEDC, Department of Small Business Services, Department of City Planning, Department of Finance, NYC & Company among others. He oversees job-creating area-wide redevelopment projects that include Willets Point, Lower Manhattan, Hudson Yards, 125th Street, Jamaica, and Coney Island. He also spearheads the effort to support a more vibrant and diverse City economy by growing varied sectors including tourism, media, bioscience, fashion, maritime support, film, and television. Lieber previously served as Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, where he was Global Head of Real Estate Investment Banking as well as a member of the Real Estate Private Equity business. In 1999, and again in 2003, Lieber was recognized by Institutional Investor Magazine for "Deal of The Year," and he was named "Financier of the Year" in 2005 by Commercial Property News. Lieber holds a BA from the University of Colorado and a Masters of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Vice Chairman of the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center at the Wharton School, and Trustee of the Urban Land Institute.
Question: How has New York City changed since the seventies?
Bob Lieber: I didn't really think about it in this context until I got in this job, but we moved to New York City in 1977. New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy in the '70s and had slashed investment, and that was the famous President Ford New York City drop dead. And when I moved here from Colorado, and prior to that from California, you developed some coping mechanisms to get around in New York which were survival instincts. And you were always looking ahead, and you were always looking behind. And you always wanted to make sure you knew what was going on at all times, because even during the day you had to be careful. It was -- even in midtown Manhattan it was dangerous. Walking through Times Square was dangerous, and there were lots of other places in the city you just wouldn't go because the risk to you physically was so high. You could get robbed, you could get injured, and lots of things could happen -- mugged. And so watching it from the '70s and then through the '80s and then the '90s and where we are now, I mean if you look at New York City's population, from 1975 into the mid-1980s we actually had a million people move out of the city, which is not good when you're trying to provide services for people that live here. When you lose that kind of a tax base, it was devastating.
And then it was really starting in the 1990s where there was an increased focus on security and trying to make sure the streets were safe, improvements around the streets being clean. And that really started to turn the tide about how New York was positioned. And today we're at the largest population that we've ever had in New York City, almost 8.4 million people. And just given natural population growth and what we want to do to expand our competitive position, we need to be able to build enough additional capacity to accommodate people for them to be able to live, work and play here, but also for them to be able to get around. And I think also key to that is maintaining the quality of life gains that we've made. So New York City is the safest big city in the country; crime rates have gone down dramatically every year that we've been in office. The streets are clean now. There's been a huge investment that's been made in terms of the education and improving our public schools, so people feel comfortable living here, and now there's a place where they can raise their families here. And it's really important, particularly in an economy like we have now, that we -- we cannot go back and lose the ground that we've made in terms of the gains that have been made over the past decade or two in terms of really improving the quality of life.
Question: Do you see crime becoming an issue in the coming years as a result of the economic downturn?
Bob Lieber: Well, surprisingly -- I think, again, when we look at the things that we have to do around the city, we've already made a number of budget cuts the last two years. The cuts that are taking place in the uniformed services, particularly with police, and with education have not been as dramatic as it has been in the other agencies. Again, we can't lose the ground that we have there. But it's interesting: when you look at New York City today, the labor force that we have in New York is as high as it's ever been. Typically what you see in recessions or downturns is that people will leave the city. It's too hard to get a job there; it's too expensive to live there. But we have a very aggressive affordable housing program to build 165,000 -- restore or build 165,000 units. We're more than halfway through that already. And what we've seen is, kind of counter intuitively, that we are picking up people who are coming to New York City from other parts of the country because they think the opportunities to find employment are better here than where they are. And they recognize that this is a place that's safe, and they recognize this is a place where they can move and raise a family. So we're over four million people now in the labor force, and I think that's a testimony to the progress that the city's made.
Question: Will the supposed end of the Wall Street era change New York City’s personality?
Bob Lieber: Well, I think that when you look at the contribution that the financial services sector make to New York City, it's disproportionate economics for the number of people who work here. About less than 10 percent of the private employment in the city comes from the financial services sector, but in 2007, peak time, and the Wall Street represented about 35 percent of our payroll tax. So a disproportionate contribution. We don't want to lose that profile. We don't want to lose our role as the financial capital of the world. But what we do want to do is, we want to continue to look for ways that we can diversify our economic environment here and the industries that are in the city so that we're positioned to have businesses that are countercyclical or can absorb people that are getting laid off, or other economic downturns in other parts of the businesses. So I think New York's role as financial capital of the world is probably greater today than it was three years ago, compared to London and some of the other places, and even in Asia, and we still have a very meaningful and important role in that. But when we look at what we're also trying to do to diversify our economy and capitalize on what we think are our natural advantages -- and that's really people, right? -- now it's not shipping, it's not transportation. New York's competitive advantage today is the people who live here and that work here.
So we're looking to try and grow our life sciences and biosciences industry. We're looking to improve and increase our role around the fashion industry. We're still the number one tourist destination in the country. And what we're doing around the green sector and green jobs -- a bit amorphous about what exactly those jobs are. They're all important opportunities for us. Even niche manufacturing and industrial activities, along with technology, along with the tremendous migration that's taking place from traditional media to digital media. I mean, the fact that we're doing this interview now in this format as opposed to writing it down for a story kind of signals how much change is taking place. We want to make sure that we're the place where the best and the brightest want to be, where they want to be with other people likeminded about it, so that we have the ability to grow the job base here, to create more jobs and to expand the tax base so we can provide more services for the residents who live here.
Question: What will New York City look like 20 years from now?
Bob Lieber: Well, I think what you're going to see is an increasing focus for people to live in denser urban environments. When you look at the impact on the environment, dense urban areas have a significant advantage in terms of the contribution to the environment. So I think our PlaNYC initiative to create a more sustainable New York City by 2030, 20 years from now, will reduce the carbon footprint of the city by over 30 percent; that's our goal. I think that's going to have a meaningful impact, so I think you're going to have -- you'll see improvements in what takes place in the buildings, but I think you're also going to see improvements in the way transportation takes place. I think transportation is a big issue for the city going forward. We have to find ways to get people around more efficiently. We have to rely more on mass transit. We need cooperation and help from other parts of the government sector to help us do that. And then I think we continually need to focus on the quality of our air, quality of our water, and our sources of power and energy that are coming in the city as well. So I think those are all really important parts, and we've tried to address that in our PlaNYC initiative, which is 127 separate initiatives that are in place to try and prepare ourselves for the next 20 years.
Recorded on November 20, 2009
From crime capital to financial mecca, Bob Lieber has witnessed a New York with many personalities. What will its future hold after the supposed end of the Wall Street era?
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Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
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- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
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- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
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- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.