Combining resources will ensure a strong future for New York City
The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines—perhaps the greatest scientific accomplishment of this century—didn’t just happen because the world desperately needed them. Nor did they come about thanks to an ideological campaign. Or a viral tweet. No, the revolutionary tools were made possible by the public and private sectors working together for the good of the many.
The combination of the federal government’s support and the ingenuity and innovation of the private sector ensured that we now have the means to (hopefully) break free from a virus that has the potential to undermine our way of life.
These kinds of partnerships give me hope for the future, not just of our country but of our city as well. Why? Because, in an era of heightened political division, they demonstrate that we still have the ability to come together to do great things.
This lesson is important. New York City faced many challenges before the pandemic. Covid-19 only exacerbated them, with our most marginalized communities bearing the brunt of the devastating public health and economic crises. But, to paraphrase President Bill Clinton, there is nothing wrong with our city that can’t be fixed by what is right with our city.
An element that is so right about New York is that we are the world’s capital for attracting top talent and, in turn, the most successful companies in the world. At the same time, we also have the largest and most talented civil servants in the country. We have the key ingredients to tackle our most pressing challenges effectively. What’s missing is leadership that knows how to make it all work.
I’m not alone in thinking that the solutions to our problems are staring us straight in the face.
Leaders from government, business, arts and culture and the public health sector have said repeatedly that we need strong partnerships between the public and private sectors if we are going to design a more sustainable and more equitable New York. Creating more and better jobs, more affordable housing, a more diverse workforce trained for 21stcentury jobs, stronger small businesses, minority business development—all of these and more can be achieved with public-private collaboration.
With the election of a new mayor in November, presumably Eric Adams, we have an opportunity to have someone in City Hall who understands that nobody wins when our city government and the private sector set one another up as enemies.
To be clear, that does not mean we need a mayor who gives the private sector everything it wants; no one benefits from zero-sum games. But we need a leader who prioritizes sound public policy over ideologically driven slogans.
That means changing our modus operandi on both sides. For government, we must refocus on competence, prioritizing not just how and from whom we collect revenues but how we spend them. Instead of passing rules and regulations that constrain the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses, we need a transparent regulatory regime that protects the public interest without stifling initiative. For the private sector, we must think beyond parochial self-interests. We must leverage our expertise and capacity, not only to get a leg up on the competition but to address underlying inequities that have led the many to fall behind the few.
Such a world is possible. With the right leadership, we can create a more prosperous, more equitable and more sustainable New York. I know that many of my private-sector peers are eager to extend a hand to our new city leaders and work for transformative change. I look to forward to partnering with our new mayor and City Council to create that better and brighter future for all New Yorkers.
Scott Rechler is chairman and CEO of RXR Realty