The Brooklyn Navy Yard has become a model of the viability and positive impact of urban industrial development through the diversity of businesses and industries it hosts
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is moving into the spotlight as inspiration for other global cities as they struggle to replace declining industrial jobs with well-paid alternatives while regenerating areas left vacant, reports Reuters. Brooklyn’s industrial park has become a model of the viability and positive impact of modern, urban industrial development through the diversity of businesses and industries it hosts.
Established in 1801, the Brooklyn Navy Yard had to reinvent itself throughout its long history. Once a thriving center on Brooklyn’s waterfront employing 70,000 people, the Navy Yard had to overcome the loss of the majority of the jobs when the Navy closed down its base in 1966. The yard’s renaissance began in 1987 when the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) started to diversify its space – and its tenant base – giving room to new development and innovation.
Today, the yard is home to 330 companies and employs 7,000 people, located in what has become one of the hippest neighborhoods, next to housing projects and sprouting chic apartment buildings. Being embedded in the neighborhood and community, BNYDC partners with struggling local schools to get children interested in fields such as robotics and internships or jobs with one of the cutting-edge companies. Not only has the yard become a new thriving technology and innovation hub, with such collaborations, it is also planting the seeds for a continuously thriving and sustainable business development David Ehrenberg, BNYDC chief executive, knows.
”If things work out well, other cities can end up where we’ve ended up,” Ehrenberg said
The yard is now home to a variety of entrepreneurs developing nanotechnology or designing kinetic furniture, as well as companies that are creating hundreds of blue-collar jobs. At Steiner Studios, where the HBO series “Girls” was filmed, more than half the employees work in jobs such as carpenters or electricians. Crye Precision, a company that manufactures equipment and gear for the military, employs more than 200 people, many of whom sew specialized camouflage gear and bendable body armor.
To be resilient, “any city can’t be over reliant on a single industry, whether that be Rotterdam and the port, New Orleans and petrochemicals, New York and finance,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of the 100 Resilient Cities program, an initiative that aims to help urban areas protect themselves from stresses and shocks.
Although cities with fewer resources may struggle to replicate the success of Brooklyn, diversifying economies and nurturing innovation in support of start-ups seemingly is the Brooklyn way to go.