Economic changes from COVID-19 discussed by governor

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NEW YORK – Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed the challenges and changing landscape of New York City resulting from COVID-19 and the virtual economy, some of which could provide a benefit to the business community of northern regions like the Mid-Hudson.

Thursday evening during the first installment of Recalibrate Reality: The Future of New York, a series put on by the Regional Plan Association, Cuomo said the transition to working from home is not only changing the city, but it is hurting it. 

“What is a city, the future of a city, when it does not necessitate a daily commute of workers to come in who then frequent the retail stores and the restaurants etcetera,” said Cuomo. “How much of a reduction can an urban environment handle and what does that do to the revenue of the urban environment and do you have a critical mass to handle the stores etcetera. This is all uncharted territory,” he said.

In addition to New York City’s transportation economy, Cuomo said the effects reach into every aspect of the city’s ecosystem from arts and culture, to commercial real estate and housing. He said there was a time where someone would lose their job, or clientele if they did not have person-to-person interactions and the normalization of working from home via video conferencing and selling product via e-commerce are affecting multiple aspects of metropolitan culture that could be lost.

“You don’t want to lose that because that’s an asset for all of us. Yes, you can live in the Hamptons and you can Zoom from the Hamptons and you can do work that way, but there’s more to life than sitting in a home and ‘Zooming’ to work,” said Cuomo. “There’s stimulation, there’s arts, there’s culture, there’s music that makes us who we are and that is all in the urban environment and we have to understand that that urban environment is going to change,” he said.

These developments; however, create an opportunity for upstate businesses and talent who faced barriers to entry into the city’s economy before. On the internet, everyone lives in the same place. There’s no longer a geographic barrier. Any business can afford to set up a website and the costs of advertising aren’t affected by geography. Also, there’s no longer the expense of toll prices, or train tickets people from the Mid-Hudson and beyond have been subjected to and at higher rates than for city dwellers.

Cuomo said he plans to mitigate the impacts of these changes by doubling down on infrastructure improvements within the city. He cited additions of rail to the Long Island Railroad, expansions of the subway system, improvements to Penn Station, improvements at LaGuardia Airport and redeveloping COVID-borne commercial vacancies to provide affordable housing in an attempt to attract young talent.

Cuomo maintained that infrastructure will be, “The light at the end of the tunnel,” and if the city does the work, people will come.