Expand the voice, ownership, and decision-making power of workers and communities
A good economy is a democratic economy. Profit sharing, workplace participation, and public and shared ownership have helped ensure the growth and well-being of our society. The legacy of these practices remains in our common-sense understanding of fairness and hard work: workers should share in the success of the economy they help build and run. Today, our economy is shutting out and leaving behind many hard-working New Yorkers and their communities. While the “one percent” of the population accrues unprecedented levels of wealth, wages for the middle class and working poor have stagnated; assets for black and Latino families have decreased. In the city, more than 20 percent of black, Asian, and Latino residents live in or near poverty. The lived realities of our city’s poorest communities underscore the need for a new approach to create jobs and wealth for all.
Together, the City and its residents can create a just economy. When workers have a greater voice in, and control over their workplace, the results are better wages and benefits, higher rates of retention and productivity, and less income inequality. The City will work with residents to realize economic democracy — an economy in which communities directly govern, own, and benefit from the value generated from markets, businesses, and land — so that everyday residents are better able to thrive. New York City will advance innovative and inclusive business-growth and wealth-building strategies for all residents.
New York City is committed to leveraging its spending power and resources to increase economic opportunity and close the disparity gap for M/WBEs. Since 2015, the City has awarded more than $10 billion in contracts to M/WBEs, certified over 7,400 businesses, and made over $70 million in low-cost capital available to M/WBEs and small business vendors, with a goal of awarding $20 billion by 2025. The City will continue to move forward with implementing new policies and providing resources to support an unprecedented number of contract awards by M/WBEs to create a more inclusive economy. This will include expanding the availability of low-interest loans administered by SBS and NYCEDC and advocating for State legislation that will help unlock more opportunities for M/WBEs.
The City has taken bold steps to address income inequality, but policy alone cannot meet the rapidly changing demands of our economy, or our climate. We harness the shared mission and power of community anchors, such as universities, hospitals, and other large employers that are unable to address equity and sustainability in the communities in which they are located. To strengthen local businesses and economies, the City will work with citywide stakeholders to support 25 percent of New York City-based anchor institutions making commitments and taking measurable actions toward generating community wealth and resilience by 2025.
To create a more fair, democratic, and resilient city, the City will invest in a comprehensive strategy to grow employee-owned businesses. Workers drive innovation and deserve a fair-share of our City’s economic prosperity. Ownership of businesses increases job stability, income, and wealth for workers. Employee-ownership increases productivity and helps improve the bottom-line for businesses. Such businesses are on average 2.4 percent more productive than firms without those practices. The vision of employee-ownership and economic democracy has been seeded across the country. New York City has the opportunity to realize this at scale and ensure inclusive and lasting growth for the future. The City will build a business development ecosystem and make investments so that our businesses and workers are equipped to share in the profits and decision-making that grow our economy.
Transforming City-owned assets into affordable housing co-operatives and protecting existing housing assets for low-, middle-, and moderate-income (LMI) communities will expand wealth-generating opportunities to individuals shut out from the housing market. Despite the City’s commitment to preserve and build affordable housing, the share of LMI households struggling to pay rent has increased. Startlingly, 56 percent of New York renter households pay over 30 percent of their income on rent, leaving little money for other critical expenses. To expand affordable, community-controlled housing stock and bolster tenants’ ability to stay in their homes, the City will increase the reach of programs including the Affordable Neighborhood Cooperative Program, the Foreclosure Prevention Program, and the Green Housing Preservation Program. The City is also helping more New Yorkers become homeowners through the new Open Door program, which funds the construction of new cooperative and condominium buildings for moderate- and middle-income households.
New York City has taken bold policy actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the production of clean electricity, introducing unprecedented wealth-generating and ownership opportunities for communities across the city. Specifically, New York City has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and mandating energy efficiency retrofits for existing buildings. We will explore programs to accelerate access to clean, reliable, affordable, and community-owned renewable energy infrastructure for all residents. Harnessing the opportunities of the energy-efficiency mandate and other climate change mitigation policies will not only expand access to the renewable energy necessary to move away from fossil fuel dependency, but also further community-ownership and wealth-generating initiatives.
With cannabis legalization under consideration in New York State, the City must ensure New Yorkers have the opportunity to build a local cannabis industry, led by small businesses and organized to benefit our whole community. We have to make sure those who bore the brunt of years of overly punitive drug policy benefit from the industry’s growth and public investments. Ongoing federal criminalization of cannabis, with attendant costs and obstacles for industry participants, poses challenges to advancing economic empowerment for those with fewer resources. State legalization must ensure communities disproportionately harmed by criminalization have an equitable stake in the cannabis industry and the opportunity for economic empowerment. This will require preferential licensing opportunities, as well as legislative and programmatic solutions to the challenges applicants from marginalized communities may face, including lack of capital, information asymmetry, difficulty achieving compliance with changing State and local regulations, and the demands of commercial competition with large established businesses. This should also include mandated access to job opportunities for those most impacted by past criminalization, and support for workers who seek to organize within the industry.