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A Letter to the NYT: Inclusive Incentives Build Inclusive Cities

In a letter to The New York Times responding to an article about dwindling opportunities for low-skilled workers, Sam Marks, LISC NYC executive director, makes the case for baking equity and inclusion into economic development incentives and policies. By doing so, New York and others cities can support affordable housing and businesses that offer middle-skill jobs, and ensure that all residents benefit, regardless of their background.

The letter below was originally published on The New York Times:
Jobs, Equity and Inclusion

To the Editor:

Opportunity in Cities Falls to the Educated” (The Upshot, Jan. 12) highlights the threat of dwindling low-skill jobs coupled with rising rents and cost of living.

As manufacturing has diminished, quality jobs (offering a living wage along with training and opportunities for advancement) are increasingly scarce. In a dense, high-cost city like New York, these issues are inherently linked to land scarcity. Employers struggle to afford spaces to house their businesses and pay a living wage, while employees are finding themselves earning less and paying more for housing.

Economic development incentives have the potential to address both of these challenges, but most have focused on simply creating more jobs without taking equity and inclusion into consideration.

Baking such considerations into economic development incentives from the outset can help New York City set clear terms the next time a major company like Amazon seeks to locate here. By focusing on opportunities that require infrastructure improvements and civic investment that benefit all New Yorkers, the city can properly address issues like affordable housing and spaces for businesses offering middle-skill jobs.

Doing so will help us build a more equitable and inclusive city.

Continue to original letter [+]


Sam Marks, LISC NYC Executive Director
Sam Marks is the Executive Director of LISC NYC. Before joining LISC in 2014, he was Vice President at the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, and director of housing and community development at the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCo). Sam serves on the board of a number of New York City nonprofits including Neighborhood Restore, Supportive Housing Network of New York, and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods. Sam holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School.