The economic maelstrom affecting Ireland, the United States and just about every other country, is also affecting lower Manhattan, where the Irish Echo offices are located and where the Index luncheon was held at Bayard’s of Hanover Square.
The chief honoree at this year’s Index gathering was Robert Douglass, a man who knows all about the challenges facing lower Manhattan. Douglass is chairman for the Alliance for Downtown New York.
“We believe strongly in the long-term future of Downtown.” Douglas said in his address to the Index gathering.
“Lower Manhattan is today the fastest growing area in this city. Just take a look at what’s happened since 9/11.
More firms want to locate here, 203 since 2005. The workforce has become more diverse. Only 28 percent of today’s jobs are in the financial sector,” he said.
The residential population, he said, had more than doubled since 9/11 and was now approaching 60,000.
“We recognize the fall-out from the current financial crisis will no doubt be painful and widespread. But I believe the administration’s stimulus program is focused on the right things and if they can keep politics out of the implementation, it will help the recovery, said Douglass.
“Likewise, the team at Treasury and the Fed are attempting some very innovative programs to solve the credit and banking mess. Once they finish, they will have the daunting task of how to regulate the financial service industry to prevent future collapses.
“Downtown will not be immune to all this. A significant number of jobs will be lost, primarily in the financial sector. We hope not permanently.
And he added: Vacancy rates in the office and residential markets will increase. Retailers and small businesses will feel the pinch. But Downtown has experienced this before and always managed to come back.
“This time, because of the progress we have made, before and after 9/11, the increased diversity of our business community and a solid residential base, I predict that downtown will come back stronger and more sustainable than ever before.” Douglass said.