Staten Island has ‘robust’ new economy

SIEDC 2017 Economic Indicator Report shows good signs for borough

After studying Staten Island’s development trends and compiling four years worth of data on economic changes, The Staten Island Economic Development Corp. has released a detailed economic snapshot for the borough, providing a narrative for business owners and residents alike.

“For many years, our hidden gem and suburban oasis in New York City was a collection of local neighborhoods and small communities,” noted Cesar Claro, president and CEO of the SIEDC. “While we still have that vibrant fabric, we’re also growing at a rapid pace. Staten Island’s robust new economy is interesting, diverse and innovative. From the North Shore and the over $1 billion worth of construction at the ‘Core Four’ to the industrial West Shore — now home to Amazon — which is setting the pace for new manufacturing development, we are taking on new and exciting challenges.”

The Economic Indicator Report, released in January, tallied factors such as unemployment, population, real estate value, income, transportation, industry-specific items, housing and commuting trends between 2012 and 2016, while also highlighting current projects on each of the borough’s Shores.

“Thanks to the ‘Core Four’ projects — New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point and Urby — the North Shore is experiencing a boom in development that is not only unprecedented for the area but serves as a catalyst for the entire borough,” the report reads.

Major projects on the West Shore are also cited, including the 3.5 million-square-foot Matrix Development Site, which will house NYC’s only Amazon distribution facility, the second largest park in New York City at Freshkills and a television and movie studio called Staten Island Stages at the site of the former prison.

“SIEDC continues to advocate for the West Shore, and the New York City Regional Council has even named the development of the area a priority project for the state,” the report notes. “SIEDC is excited to see what projects lay ahead in the future and to witness the remarkable potential of this unique area.”

The SIEDC, which has been serving the community for nearly 25 years, offering a variety of services to the general public as well as to its 200 members who represent a wide variety of businesses in the community, also discussed ongoing neighborhood development efforts.

“Staten Island is in many ways a borough of half a million people with a small town, Middle America feel,” the report reads. “Most important to this fabric of community are the borough’s over 50 neighborhoods, each with their own identity and character. In an effort to stimulate economic growth in these areas, the SIEDC has created the borough’s most effective and comprehensive neighborhood development effort. Through work with elected officials, government agencies and business owners, SIEDC has launched three Business Improvement Districts as well as numerous merchant organizations. This work has realized hundreds of thousands of dollars in new investment, major real estate transactions and quality-of-life and infrastructure improvements.”

The borough’s nearly 1,000 acres of developable land for manufacturing, transportation and industrial uses was also reported, as was Staten Island’s three New York City designated Industrial Business Zones along the Richmond Terrace, West Shore and Rossville waterfronts — a designation that allows for a tax benefit of $1,000 per relocated employee to those areas, among other benefits.

“The data here supports the general feeling of Staten Islanders — the borough is open for business and it is thriving,” Claro concluded. “Today is truly a great day to be a Staten Islander and to do business in our growing and flourishing borough.”

Some of the report’s most interesting findings include:

• The number of Staten Islanders without jobs dropped from 9.1 percent in 2012 to 4.4 percent in 2016 and has remained at that mark through mid-2017.

• Staten Island’s population (478,000) has steadily increased since 2011. But this population growth is projected to taper off between 2020 and 2030 as the borough continues to age.

• Property values are rising across the borough — bolstered by activity in St. George and the South Shore.

• Median household income on Staten Island is $71,622, which is $12,000 higher than the U.S. median household income. Staten Islanders also earn slightly more than New York State residents on average, and the borough boasts a nearly $25,000 edge over New York City as a whole.

• Like most boroughs outside of Manhattan, Staten Island has experienced relatively stable employment since 2008. There is an expected growth in the retail sector (5,000 jobs) due to projects such as Empire Outlets, Riverside Galleria, Amazon, the Boulevard at New Dorp and the Staten Island Mall expansion.

• Between 45–50 percent of residents now commute to Manhattan where the rate was once easily more than 60 percent. A shift has been seen in the local economy, with more residents working within the borough or commuting in private vehicles to New Jersey.