Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Its Mission Accomplished for Now, Print Industry Task Force Keeps A Weather Eye on Manhattan's Beleaguered Printers.
By Jean-Marie S. Hershey (Cygnus Publishing; September 26,2000)

For more than a year, a task force made up of New York City agencies and print industry representatives has been working with printers to identify remedies for companies forced to leave Manhattan under the pressure of rising rents and other economic forces that continue to convert manufacturing space to non-manufacturing uses. Its mission has been to disburse monies from a special $ 8 million relocation fund and to find other ways of keeping the printing industry in Manhattan.

According to the New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC), which is in charge of the fund, no monies have been disbursed yet. However, the EDC says that it has approved applications from about 25 companies in various stages of moving.

To Preserve and Protect

The Print Industry Task Force held its first meeting on Oct. 29, 1999. It was created at the prompting of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the City Council after the Council's subcommittee on zoning and franchising, under the direction of Task Force member Walter McCaffrey, voted to approve zoning changes that were predicted to hasten the loss of manufacturing space in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Printing industry representatives on the Task Force include Vicki Keenan, vice president of public affairs for the Association of Graphic Communications (AGC); Anthony Caifano, president of Local One, Amalgamated Lithographers of America (ALA); and Paul Bader, president of City Imprint Inc.

Because the Task Force was launched after the City had submitted its budget for the 2000 fiscal year, a budget modification had to be approved before the moving fund could begin to aid those printers in need. That piece fell into place in early spring. The eligibility criteria subsequently were drafted at a March 27 meeting of the Task Force and a press release made public on April 27. At that time, Michael Carey, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and a member of the Task Force, said, "This fund will be an invaluable resource as printers move their operations to new facilities. The Printing Task force is committed to the continued growth of this key industry in New York City."

Printing News spoke with several members of the Task Force and with printers who have sought help from the relocation fund to assess the progress of the Task Force initiative.

As a member of the Task Force, Mr. Bader saw his role as putting printers in touch with the appropriate EDC personnel, especially Ben Schall, a research analyst responsible for acquainting printers with all of the programs for which relocation might make them eligible.

People Were Aware

According to Mr. Bader, the EDC has worked hard to make sure people were aware of the relocation program. The agency "did a lot of mailings," he says, placing informative ads in Printing News, AGC's newsletter, Printout, and in other outlets, describing the opportunities available to printers.

He also says that EDC's Mr. Schall was "very responsive," and that as a Task Force member he has received "no complaints" from printers about the handling of the relocation program.

In fact, Mr. Bader says, Manhattan is now "much more competitive" with New Jersey because the Task Force has "levelled the playing field" with incentive packages in Brooklyn and Queens that are as attractive as those available in the neighboring state. He adds that, as has been the case in Manhattan over the past couple of years, the most desirable space in New Jersey also is being converted to non-manufacturing uses.

Net 30 Days

Bruce Brodoff, a spokesperson for EDC, says that the agency is waiting for the 25 printers who have applied for relocation assistance to document their moving costs. Under fund guidelines, eligible printers are required to find property; apply for reimbursement; sign a lease; move; submit their expense invoices; and receive reimbursement, in that order. However, Mr. Brodoff adds, once the invoices are received, reimbursement will be made within 30 days.

Relocated companies may receive 50 percent of eligible moving costs, up to $200,000, provided they relocate within the five boroughs. Applications must be submitted prior to the execution of a new lease or contract of sale. Grant recipients must agree to remain in New York City for a minimum of five years.

The $8 million fund was calculated to assist up to 60 printers. Besides the 25 companies that have already qualified, Mr. Brodoff says that about 15 others have made inquiries to the EDC and are expected to complete the application process.

The first step in the process, Mr. Brodoff says, is for companies to "sign a contract" with EDC, stipulating that they have moved and want to move forward to secure funding. Typically, says Ms. Keenan, it takes between three and four months for EDC to approve an application for eligibility under relocation fund guidelines, depending on where a company happens to be in its lease negotiations.

According to Mr. Brodoff, companies that have received money to move from their former landlords can submit the balance of their moving expenses for coverage, unless they previously subscribed to the New York City's Business Relocation Assistance Corp. (BRAC) program.

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