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RE execs go abroad to boost Big Apple.

How do you explain a workletter to a French company? How do you say escalation clause in German?

A number of New York real estate professionals accompanied Mayor David Dinkins and New York City Deputy for Economic Development Mayor Barry Sullivan on their recent European tour designed to sell businesses on the Big Apple.

The trip was arranged and paid for by the New York City Partnership and the New York Chamber of Commerce. The five-city tour brought the group to London, Paris, Lyons, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

The real estate contingent of the entourage was comprised of Dan J. Gronich, chairman of Gronich and Company; Richard W. Seeler, president of Gronich; and William C. Rudin, vice president of Rudin Management. Bruce Mosler joined the group in Germany.

Ronald K. Shelp, chairman and CEO of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce, said the purpose of the mission was to communicate a better image of New York City. He said they wanted to reach out to as many of the 2,500 foreign firms that already operate in New York City, including 300 foreign banks, and let them know the city valued their presence. "We wanted to reach out to them, and targeted firms not in New York City, and encouraged them to invest here," he said.

Mid-size companies that would like to enter the United States were given presentations highlighting the reduced rentals now available. Luncheons, seminars and smaller meetings with companies, particularly those already with an office in New York, were arranged.

Rudin said the trip was very productive. "The Mayor was a great salesman," he said. "Barry Sullivan is an excellent addition to the administration and adds a whole different dimension in terms of the city's relationship with the business community, both locally and internationally, and the response from the business people in Europe was very positive."

Gronich said the trip provided a good opportunity for business people to present their point of view to Sullivan, who only recently assumed his position as the new deputy mayor for Economic Development.

Gronich, who made the presentation to the mid-size companies, said they spent a lot of time talking to corporate heads and executives about the opportunities in New York City. "Many of them said It was great New York came here. They haven't been here in 10 years," he said.

Shelp said: "It ought to be in the Mayors job description to sell New York around the world. It definitely improved relationships. When you spend six days and nights together you get to know each other fairly well."

The trip took on a broad range approach, Rudin said, and they met with every industry large or small, including airlines, entertainment firms, banks and publishing concerns.

Mosler said the schedule was very aggressive and productive. He named Bertelsmann, media conglomerate Gruner and Jahr, and a number of major banks among the meetings in Germany as well as Michael Spies, a Tishman Speyer executive who is based in Berlin.

Gronich said people are asking him about the tenants he signed in Europe. "People outside of real estate industry expect you to go back with all sorts of tenants in your pockets," Gronich laughed. "Obviously, that's not the way it works. They don't say 'where's the lease?"'

The corporate heads may think about it, Gronich explained, come to New York for a visit, and eventually open an office. "It increases the likelihood of an international company opening an office here and not in California," Gronich added.

Some of the Europeans were concerned with understanding how tax incentives worked while others were concerned about safety and quality of life, Rudin said. "The sophisticated business people have a positive view of New York, even more so than some of the people who live here," Rudin noted. "They look at it as a world class city and know it will come back and know it will not go away. "

"We dispelled the typical myth about New York being an unsafe place to live," added Mosler. "We gave them statistics about the crime rate coming down and the quality of life improving."

Mosler said they showed how the cost of doing business in New York presents a tremendous advantage over London, Paris, and Tokyo. "We said now is an opportune time to invest in and experience New York," Mosler explained to them, because rents are down, there are big work letters and there is a tremendous advantage to committing now. "The Mayor and Deputy Mayor stressed the capital improvements and the programs available to firms coming into the city," he said. We tried to support them with facts and figures as to the bottom line opportunities."

"We told them it's a tenant's market," Shelp agreed, "There are great deals. New York was cheap [compared to other places in the world] even before the recession.

In addition to the real estate execs, high-level representatives from ever facet of New York City businesses, including current foreign tenants, made the trip.

"The main thing was the business community, the real estate community and the mayor's office working together to promote the City of New York and to try to get international firms to expand here," Gronich said.

"It served its purposes and went beyond everybody's expectation of what would happen," Rudin added.

"We covered a lot of territory and achieved our goals," Shelp agreed. What was clearly needed in these countries, he said, was a high-level trip.

"Now you have to have the hard nuts and bolts follow-up to turn the leads into a reality," he said. Shelp said he had already hired four people to work full time on a long term strategy to retain international business in New York.

The Alliance for International Business that was formed last year by the private sector was dissolved when Sullivan came on board.
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Title Annotation:real estate executives accompany Mayor David N. Dinkins on European tour promoting New York, New York business
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 17, 1992
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