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Wallace L. Ford speaks to ABO luncheon meeting.

Wallace L. Ford II, commissioner of the New York City Department of Ports & Trade, addressed the luncheon meeting of Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York. His appearance came just hours before Mayor David Dinkins' radio and television speech urging sacrifices from every constituency in the city.

Commissioner Ford reported that, as part of the Mayor's proposed Draconian cuts to close the city's current $465 million budget gap, the city's economic development agencies would be consolidated into two units. The consolidation would result in an immediate reduction in force from 520 employees to 450 in the Department of Business Services, with a near-future goal of 400 total employees.

Commissioner Ford's briefing to the ABO membership was his first public appearance in the few days since Mayor Dinkins and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Sally Hernandez-Pinero first proposed consolidation of any city agencies under the Dinkins Administration.

In his introductory remarks, ABO President Jerome Belson said, "Amateur night is over. In New York City, it can no longer be 'business as usual.'"

Citing what he termed "a context of challenge and change in New York City," Commissioner Ford said, "We are seeking efficiencies in personnel, time and cost."

In order to meet New York's crushing fiscal problems, the Mayor said in his formal broadcast address that the city has been forced to take doomsday measures in order to confront the budget crisis. These include turning off one of every four streetlamps, closing the city's public swimming pools and closing many homeless shelters and hospital clinic, discontinuing the progressive recycling program and even closing the Central Park Zoo.

Commissioner Ford said the consolidation of existing economic development agencies would entail the merging of the quasi-public "corporate" agencies into one entity and the combining of the "service" agencies into another, single agency. The former group would consist of the New York City Public Development corporation, the city's real estate development arm; the Financial Services Corporation, the city's "banker" for industrial and commercial incentives related to development projects; and certain elements of the Department of Ports & Trade. They would be combined and re-named the New York City Development Corporation.

The service agencies, including the Office of Business Development, the agency that now helps to attract and retain businesses; the Office of Economic Development, and administrative agency; and the Office of Labor Services, the department that oversees compliance with minority hiring provisions of economic development projects would be combined and tentatively renamed the Department of Business Services. Commissioner Ford has been tapped to head the agency.

He said, "The new agency will be a "one-stop shop" help agency for any business located in New York City."

He concluded, "Our scorecard will be how satisfied businesses are."
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Title Annotation:Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 22, 1991
Words:452
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