Learning through Engagement

New York Trip Brings New Perspectives to REED PIC Students

February 28, 2013
by Benjamin Jervis MPP 2014, REED PIC co-chair

Ten HKS students journeyed to New York City on February 15th, for a day-long career trek organized by the Real Estate & Economic Development Professional Interest Council (“REED PIC”), formed in Fall 2012. Organizers leveraged their connections to pull together a full day of novel public-private approaches to urban development challenges, visiting organizations ranging from Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to government agencies.

The day began with a stop at the Bryant Park Corporation, a national public space development success story that has been documented in an HBS Case. Corporation President Dan Biederman HBS 1977, advised students to fully immerse themselves in the urban culture of whatever city they work in. After reviewing the Corporation’s revitalization strategy for Bryant Park, Biederman invited the Kennedy School students to sit in on a staff meeting, where strategies to align public and private interests in the park’s growth were discussed.

“I enjoyed hearing how Mr. Biederman made it from HBS to Bryant Park Corporation founder,” said Nneka Jenkins MC/MPA 2013. “As a mid-career professional who is thinking about how to build on my diverse career experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, Dan's has inspired me to consider creating my own job.”

Following their riveting midtown visit, the students traveled a few miles south to Hudson Square, a vibrant commercial district that has emerged as a hub of New York’s innovation economy. At the Hudson Square Connection (HSC) BID, President Ellen Baer and Planning Director Renee Schoonbeek presented the organization’s streetscape improvement plan, a public-private venture financed by BID bonds and City funds to enhance Hudson Square’s public realm.

“Hudson Square Connection is playing a critical role advocating for the district’s transformation into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood. With a proposed rezoning to allow for residential development currently under review, our visit occurred at an exciting time of change for Hudson Square and its BID,” stated Cristina Garmendia MPP 2013 and PIC Co-Chair.

Following their meetings with these two unique BIDs, the team switched gears for a government visit, stopping at the headquarters of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Commissioner Rob Walsh and his staff, including HKS Alums Natalie Fabe and Sherry Hakimi, both MPP 2012, briefed REED PIC on SBS’s role in promoting workforce development and providing assistance to startups, particularly among immigrant communities in the outer boroughs of New York.

"New York City has made a concerted effort to create and sustain small business growth,” said Parisa Roshan MPP 2014. “Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to cultivating entrepreneurship among New Yorkers is remarkable."

After touring the Hurricane Sandy-damaged South Street Seaport with their SBS hosts, REED PIC made its final stop of the day at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the City’s official representative for economic development initiatives and real estate transactions. Students learned about the latest projects taking place at the EDC’s Center of Economic Transformation, one of which includes the promotion of the local tech sector through the establishment of business incubators that provide entrepreneurs with access with NYC’s most expensive form of capital: square footage.

Hannah Weinstock MPP 2014, reflects, “The opportunity to view economic development in New York City from different organizational perspectives was definitely what I took away from this trip.”

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Photograph of HKS students

HKS students (from L to R): Gerard Torrats MPP 2014; Hannah Weinstock MPP 2014; Jose Soegaard MPP 2013; Cristina Garmendia MPP 2013; Dan Bierderman, president, Bryant Park Corporation, HBS 1977; Linda Li MPP/MBA 2014; Jesus Davila MPP 2013; Parisa Rosham MPP 2014; Ben Jervis MPP 2014; Jane Silfen MPP/MBA 2013; Nneka Jenkins MC/MPA 2013.

"New York City has made a concerted effort to create and sustain small business growth,” said Parisa Roshan MPP 2014. “Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to cultivating entrepreneurship among New Yorkers is remarkable."