NEW YORK — Despite a public outcry from garment industry stakeholders, the city’s Economic Development Corporation forged ahead with an announcement this morning of millions of dollars in funding dedicated to moving garment manufacturing businesses from Manhattan to Sunset Park, Brooklyn while the Dept. of City Planning considers the repeal of zoning protections for manufacturing in Manhattan’s Garment District.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement in response:
“While the Economic Development Corporation and Department of City Planning have been talking, I’ve been listening – to experts, academics, and stakeholders in the Garment Center.
“What I’ve heard is this: most of the manufacturers who are still in the Manhattan Garment Center are there because they need to be. The administration seems to have trouble understanding that.
“The entire fashion industry – from merchandizing to media to public relations to marketing – needs the designers. The designers need the manufacturers and suppliers. Without the manufacturers and suppliers as a foundation, the industry has no reason to be here.
“Many of the factories that can move further away already have. Today’s Garment Center is an ecosystem of collaborative businesses with highly skilled, hard-to-replace workers. A designer could visit a factory or workshop once, twice, or even ten times a day to make sure production is going correctly. Garments often pass through multiple workshops with different specialties before they are finished.
“So a plan that eliminates the Garment District’s zoning protections for manufacturing and moves some manufacturers to a remote neighborhood, adding hours or days to the production process and disrupting the ecosystem, sounds like a plan to push the industry out of New York City entirely.
“I don’t object to city support for space in Brooklyn for garment manufacturers who may be better off there. But the city needs to ensure there continues to be space in Manhattan for the businesses that depend on proximity to the Garment Center.
“I urge the administration to start over.”