What Is the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Anyway?

East River Ferry. Photo by Mary Hautman

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    One of city’s most powerful not-for-profits, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is involved with everything from the BAM Cultural District to Coney Island’s amusement park, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and even the city’s ferry service.

    But what exactly is the EDC? And what does it do?

    The NYC Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit corporation that uses city resources — everything from city-owned buildings to special funding sources such as city-issued bonds — to promote economic growth and create a bridge between city agencies, private businesses, and the needs of the community.

    Directed and controlled by the deputy mayor for NYC Housing and Economic Development, the EDC frequently helps arrange public-private partnerships between the city and local companies, occupying a middle ground that tries to balance business interests with community interests.

    The organization is involved with so many initiatives it’s almost easier to get a sense of its mission by checking out what it actually does.

    Here’s a list of recent EDC activities:

    • Providing financial support for a coworking-style food incubator in Bed Stuy
    • Funding the renovation and restoration of the Kings Theatre
    • Leasing city land in Downtown Brooklyn to developers for the City Point development
    • Giving out $150 million in city and private funding for developers building manufacturing space
    • Investing $13 million in the new Advanced Manufacturing Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal
    • Helping to arrange for five new ferry routes starting in 2017

    You might notice a few themes in that list — the EDC encourages manufacturing, development, improved transit, and the expansion of cultural spaces.

    Kings Theatre Brooklyn Book Matt Lambros Photos

    The Kings Theatre, mid-renovation. Photo by Matt Lambros

    Often, the EDC measures its success by measuring job creation.

    It can be tough to quantify the benefit of a culturally important project like restoring Brooklyn’s Loews Wonder Theater or tapping a world-renowned architect to build a LEED-certified recycling plant. But pretty much everyone can agree that more jobs are a good thing for both businesses and New York City residents.

    This is one reason why job creation numbers are frequently cited in EDC projects — according to the EDC’s website, the theater restoration created roughly 500 construction jobs and 100 full time jobs, and the recycling facility created 80 to 85 permanent jobs.

    So the next time you read about a new EDC initiative, keep your eyes peeled for the supporting job numbers.

    What Is The EDC New York Economic Development Corporation

    City Point under construction in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo by Barbara Eldredge

    Where did the EDC come from?

    The whole idea behind economic development — that encouraging business advancements and better infrastructure also improves people’s lives — came out of post-war reconstruction initiatives abroad.

    But by the 1960s, New York City’s faltering economy prompted the creation of the New York City Public Development corporation, a precursor to the EDC that sold or leased city-owned property in order to help create jobs.

    In 1979, the city created the Economic Capital Corporation (later renamed the Financial Services Corporation) to help finance businesses and development with money raised by issuing tax-exempt bonds.

    In 1991, these two programs were merged into the Economic Development Corporation we know today. For a more detailed history, check out the timeline on the EDC’s website.

    What Is The EDC

    Current EDC President Maria Torres-Springer; former EDC President Kyle Kimball; former EDC President Seth Pinsky

    The current president of the EDC is Maria Torres-Springer, a former city commissioner of Small Business Services, and one-time EVP and chief of staff at the EDC. Before Torres-Springer took over in 2015, the EDC president was Bloomberg appointee Kyle Kimball, who is now VP of government relations at Con Edison. Seth Pinsky — now EVP of RXR Realty — served as EDC president from February 2008 to August 2013.

    What Is The EDC New York Economic Development Corporation

    Brooklyn Army Terminal. Photo by Nicolas Lemery Nantel

    Just a note: don’t confuse the EDC with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) — the ESD has much the same function as the EDC, but at the state level.

    Related Stories
    The Glorious Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wondrous Kings Theatre
    What Is ULURP? And Why Do We Have It?
    Planned South Brooklyn Ferry Service Will Connect Sunset Park, Bay Ridge

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