Working Neighborhoods

How can the next mayor build an equitable economy following the pandemic?


The city’s concerted efforts to cultivate new industries, such as cybersecurity and life sciences, has generated new job growth in the last few years prior to the pandemic. Yet income inequality continues to soar in New York and across the nation. Black-owned businesses continue to decline and the city’s immigrant workforce has suffered under the former federal administration. The city’s diminished budget may delay capital projects and require the City to think creatively about targeting job growth.

  1. 19.

    Reinvest in commercial corridors in communities of color to sustain local businesses and help residents thrive.

    • Challenge: Nearly 240,000 small businesses may never make it through the pandemic, dramatically weakening the cultural and economic fabric of our neighborhoods.

    • Invest in the public realm to improve connectivity for small businesses and patrons.

    • Develop planning and financing tools to create new affordable small business space.

    • Leverage vacant public property to encourage community-led economic growth.

    Case Study

    Anchorage, Alaska – Anchorage Community Land Trust
  2. 20.

    Drive green economic growth in the communities hardest hit by climate change.

    • Challenge: Most small businesses and working communities face difficulties in accessing training and certification in emerging industries like energy retrofits, which make it challenging to compete with larger and well-resourced firms.

    • Support minority-, women-, and employee-owned businesses to prosper in the building retrofit market.

    • Expand workforce training in the green building industry and develop job placement programs for Black and minority workers.

    • Drive new investments in manufacturing districts to support equitable economic development.

    Case Study

    Basque Research and Technology Alliance – Ikerlan
  3. 21.

    Partner with leading anchor institutions to build community wealth.

    • Challenge: Access to capital and contracts continue to create a challenging climate for the growth of minority-owned businesses; out of the city’s 2.2 million small businesses, only 2% are Black-owned.

    • Leverage leading anchor institutions to support local procurement and equitable economic development.

    • Encourage banking policies that invest in Black and brown small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as worker cooperatives.

    Case Study

    Cleveland, Ohio – Evergreen Cooperatives

These recommendations are authored by Urban Design Forum. We thank our advisors who provided helpful insights, suggestions, and guidance throughout the working group process.