Positive stories about our Sandy recovery and the improving economy are popping up in the news on a more regular basis. The unemployment rate is ticking down. Growth, while slow, is steady. However, here in southern Queens and Rockaway, we still have a ways to go to get more people back to work.
As your state Assemblyman, finding solutions to help our recovery, support local business and create good-paying jobs in southern Queens and Rockaway is a top priority. We’ve made progress so far this year by investing in transportation, economic development programs and cutting taxes for small businesses but we must do more and work together to promote a business-friendly environment in our community and across the state.
I fought to help our existing small businesses recover and grow post Sandy, but equally important, I have tried to attract new investment by showcasing our vibrant area to large retail chains looking to expand. I have worked with the Queens Chamber of Commerce to assist local business development groups improve commercial areas like Rockaway Commons, Beach 116th and 129th streets and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach among many other areas.
I am excited to announce the addition of Workforce1 to the Far Rockaway library. This service provided by the NYC Department of Small Business Services will prepare and connect qualified candidates in southern Queens and the Rockaway’s to job opportunities, making a tremendous impact on our economy and allowing residents to move forward with recovery.
This year’s state budget included $438.1 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program. The 21 percent increase – the first increase in five years – will rebuild our roads and bridges while creating desperately needed jobs. The budget also provided tax credits to businesses that hire veterans who have fought so hard to protect our country; and adopted the federal expansion of the Shared Work Program, which helps prevent employees from losing their jobs by providing employers with an alternative to laying off workers.
Our families have been working hard to find good-paying jobs and make ends meet in a tough economy and Sandy only made it worse. In addition to working with local business groups to revitalize our commercial areas, I’ve been doing my part in Albany, helping to cut costs for businesses and bolster state funding for job-creation programs that work. I’ll keep working every day to improve the business climate and bring good-paying jobs that will keep our bright students and hardworking families here in southern Queens and Rockaway.
Phillip Goldfeder is New York State Assemblyman for the 23rd District, in South Queens and the Rockaways.