Circular Economy and Small Business

“From Earth 5R, an explanation on circular economy and how it can create jobs and improve sustainability.”

Currently in Long Island City, there is no meaningful or realistic planning that protects and supports the neighborhood’s artisans, artists, and small manufacturing businesses.  Instead all current proposals open the door to far more competitive businesses being priced out of Manhattan as well as newly funded ventures.  In the rush to welcome an outside economy we are seeing permanent damage to the existing economy built over the years from within the community.  There is no evidence that supports the idea that development on the scale of proposals we are seeing will somehow preserve small manufacturing, the arts, or existing retail. Historically quite the opposite is true.

Present planning is heavily weighted toward the digital sector and life sciences at the expense of the diversity of small manufacturers, makers, artisans, artists, and other unique businesses. It is not only painting a bland overlay, it is destroying the collaborations and cross pollination that have been major reasons for the neighborhood’s attractiveness and natural growth, that is a proven catalyst for jobs.

The creation of new industrial space has a speculative benefit for outside businesses eager to come to this hot spot but it will not retain existing businesses and jobs. Projected commercial and manufacturing rents already exceed existing rents by more than 50%. This is before the real cost of building these spaces is known. Even if an existing business manages to afford a new space there will be significant loss of business in relocating as well as the increased cost of outfitting the new spaces. There will also be added retail competition with the struggling neighborhood  restaurants and merchants in an area where there is already pressure on commercial rents.

It is important to protect our small manufacturing in LIC. One such local circular economy business is Shine Electronics:

The speculative sustainability of future business ventures must not damage the actual real existence of businesses that are already here. The City should not be a partner in the destruction of the existing small business and creative base. Before taking steps into a speculative future the City must be a partner in helping to sustain and further grow the businesses that are already here by protecting and investing in the existing community. As the City and EDC provide all manner of incentive and benefit for larger scale businesses we propose that similar incentives and benefits be placed directly into the community to foster healthy growth.  

We suggest a Production Light Industrial (PLI) overlay not only as a community benefit trade off for large developments but throughout the neighborhood as a strategic growth opportunity for existing business and makers. We propose tax incentives for manufacturers and buildings that house makers and manufacturers to hold onto their buildings and for developing new production space. 

Luxury development threatens small business and the low rise manufacturing district.  There has to be a better balance.

In buildings with existing small manufacturing and artist work spaces tax relief can be granted tied in to a stabilized rent schedule.

In the event that an owner wants to sell, modify, or further develop a building with existing small manufacturing and artist work spaces, if it is necessary or desirable that tenants vacate, we propose that tenants be relocated and spaces built out with similar services at the owner’s expense within a reasonable distance and with reasonable notice. There should an insurance styled fund to cover loss of time resulting from the move.

New buildings would meet the requirements of the existing PLI zoning text with additional incentives either in the form of tax relief or FAR for increasing production space beyond 7%. Tax incentives can also be given to business owners when they hire from NYCHA or other public housing. 

All of the proposals not only work toward repairing damage already done to large portions of our local economy but would also make the neighborhood more attractive and viable. In fact it would begin to return to looking more like the neighborhood character that attracted many here in the first place.