White Plains Mayor Tom Roach says the future of White Plains includes improving on what it already does best: attract and retain businesses that flourish and create jobs.
“We really feel we are in a unique position to bring the region into a strong economy,” said Roach, while addressing The Business Council of Westchester’s guests at in White Plains.
Though the city has about 57,000 residents, the population can grow to 250,000 during the day when those who work in White Plains are in the city, which is an employment hub of the region.
The Business Council of Westchester is an organization that helps businesses market themselves and grow by offering information and seminars, as well as reviews legislation and advocates for its impact on the business community. The council invited members of the local business community to the event as a part of its efforts to stop youth from leaving Westchester.
According to President and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon, the Business Council of Westchester’s Coalition for Business Development identified 1,000 recommendations for successful business retraction and Westchester’s top three goals were to stop youth flight. The council’s youth flight focus group will begin in early February.
Roach says that White Plains needs to promote itself as a destination, where young individuals and professionals come to live, work and play.
While many people ask him why there are so many bars on Mamaroneck Avenue he explains that, “If this was Stalinist Russia I could say ‘no bars’ only record stores…” but since that isn't the case he says its up to local business to decide how they want to run their establishment. He noted that the city’s bars aren’t something you’d see “out of the Wild West” and that they are nice restaurants and are safe.
“You can’t minimize the fact that the city can be a cool place to go for people in their 20s and 30s,” said Roach. “When corporations are looking to relocate it helps that employees want to be here. I see that as a real value and we want to leverage that.”
Roach says that the city’s reputation and easily accessible modern transportation will also help attract young families who may want to move out of Manhattan, but still want the diversity of a city and a 30 minute train ride to get back to Manhattan. White Plains has two Metro-North train stations and buses, and is also in close proximity to a state-of-the-art hospital.
“The brand is strong,” said Roach. “People think of White Plains as fiscally strong, as clean, as safe, as accessible—that’s important. We want to maintain that and raise our profile in some other areas as a progressive and environmentally conscious city.”
In the spring the city will unveil its first dedicated bike lanes down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to Water Street to the train station and onto Lexington Avenue. Roach said he is also trying to be more flexible with developers and make it easier to do business in White Plains. The White Plains Common Council recently approved zoning amendments that will allow a health club to be in .
“I view not just people who live here as people of our community, but people who do business here, work here and own businesses here. We’re all in this together.”
Roach said that there have been discussions about development in the city, however, the city is still enduring a tough financial climate with the rest of the country. He says he is optimistic that New York State will fix unfunded mandates that are creating financial difficulty for municipalities—for example creating a 2 percent tax cap for municipalities then increasing pension mandates by 19 percent, which create a 5 percent increase in taxes.
The mayor said he is willing to speak and meet with local business that may be facing difficulties in the city he may be able to assist with.
For membership, event and other information on The Business Council of Westchester visit http://www.westchesterny.org