Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Coachella promoters looking to host 2016 music festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park: report

| amatua@queenscourier.com

File photo

New York City music fans may have a new favorite outlet to experience live music come 2016.

The entertainment company that hosts the massive music and arts festival Coachella is scoping out the “World’s Borough” for a possible music festival next summer, according to the Daily News.

AEG Live is allegedly discussing the possibility with city officials, and if it becomes a reality, Flushing Meadows Corona Park will be home to the Panorama festival next June. The concert promoter has reportedly started recruiting acts and is looking to host the festival two weeks after Governor’s Ball, the only major music festival hosted in New York City.

The event would be one of the biggest in Queens since the 1964 World’s Fair, which 51 million people attended. Coachella is held in Indio, Calif., for two consecutive weekends in April and last year attracted about 200,000 music fans. Past acts include Drake, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, The Black Keys, Amy Winehouse, Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys.

A spokesperson for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said representatives from AEG Live have not contacted her about possibly hosting the event, but she welcomes a discussion.

“Queens is increasingly becoming a premier destination for entertainment, culture and tourism,” Katz said. “While we encourage public events of any scale that enhance our borough, this proposal appears to raise significant concerns, especially the precedent it would potentially set. If the application is granted, this would be the first time ever for Queens to lend its treasured public parkland to a for-profit company for a charged-admission event.”

AEG Live has not yet responded to The Courier’s request for comment.


Sneak peek of new ‘Gotham’ season to screen at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

Fans of Fox’s hit series “Gotham” won’t have to wait until Monday to enjoy the new season, as they will get a sneak peek into what Bruce Wayne will be up to this fall during a screening at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Parks Department have come together to announce free outdoor screenings of “Made in NY” television shows will take place at select park throughout the city before the shows air on television.

As part of the “Movies Under the Stars” program, on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 8 to 9 p.m., there will be a screening of the new season of “Gotham,” which is expected to air on FOX on Monday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m.

The screening will take place at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Zoo Picnic Area and is free to the public.

According to the Parks Department, these screenings provide a “unique opportunity to connect New Yorkers to major network shows that are filmed in their communities in a creative setting.”

“Gotham,” which launched its first season last fall, is a prequel to Batman and follows the rise of Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon.

The show previously filmed some of its scenes on the streets of Ridgewood, where the show’s lead actor, Ben McKenzie, brought his character Det. James Gordon to life in a fast-paced action sequence filmed beneath the Seneca Avenue M train station.

Space for the weekend screening is available on a first-come, first-served basis and attendees are asked to bring their own picnic blanket or chair.

For more information call 718-760-6565, and to get a list of other screenings click here.


Tennis legends make appearances at 2015 US Open

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of Jennifer Pottheiser Photography for Time Warner Cable

Tennis legends Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez were among the big sports names attending the 2015 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Davenport and Fernandez appeared at the games courtesy of a Time Warner Cable question and answer series. As part of the series, fans also got to meet Jim Courier, a former No. 1 world ranked player; James Blake, a former No. 4 world ranked singles player; and Michael Chang, who was the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever in 1989.

Davenport—a six-time Grand Slam tournament champion who was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014 —said that the U.S. Open was always her favorite tournament and that she loves coming back to watch on the sidelines.

“I’ve always loved the sport since I first picked up a racket at 5,” Davenport said. “Even when I wasn’t playing, I was watching tennis all the time so I love coming back. I love being a part of it.”

This year Davenport worked as a coach for Madison Keys, a 20-year-old newcomer who was successful in her run in the 2015 U.S. Open until being bested by Serena Williams on Friday, Sept. 6.

As part of her question and answer session, Mary Joe Fernandez reflected on her experiences as a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“When you’re playing for yourself, there’s pressure,” Fernandez said, “but when you’re playing for your country and teammates it’s another level of excitement and pressure.”

Fernandez, who has coached the Olympic women’s tennis team and served as an ESPN analyst since her retirement, said that her two children enjoyed using her gold medals to impress their friends at school.

“We have them in our family room behind the TV,” Fernandez said. “I bring [the medals] in to show-and-tell with the children, so they get a big kick out of that.”

The Q&A sessions are planned to continue through Wednesday, Sept. 9.


Ticket holders enjoy smaller games at US Open side courts and practice fields

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

It’s a tennis-palooza!

Tennis fans at the U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have multiple courts to choose from in addition to four main stadiums hosting the sport’s biggest names.

While the likes of Andy Murray and John Isner could be seen at the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, simultaneous matches taking place in 11 fields and West Stadium courts allowed fans to get even closer to professional players.

Peter Kraus and Ashley Hall, a stepfather and daughter who both love the game, attended the U.S. Open together, enjoying the side games as well as major matches in the large stadiums.

“We’re tennis fans,” said Kraus, who has been playing for 40 years. “I enjoy the game and think it’s good exercise and fun.”

“It’s inspires me to keep going, because in high school matches you don’t win every match,” Hall said. “Now I’m in college and my school doesn’t have a team, but it inspires me to start a team.”

Practice fields open throughout the day for player warm-ups were also accessible to the reported 700,000 attendees expected to watch the games this year.


Gwen Vauss, an amateur tennis player who traveled from Maryland to see the games, said she was able to see tennis legend Roger Federer at the practice courts.

“I feel like a kid in awe,” Vauss said. “This is my first U.S. Open.”

Cherron Marray, another amateur who plays tennis with Vauss, said that it was encouraging to see professional players make some of the same mistakes that she and her peers make.

“I’m just here to take in the whole experience,” Marray said. “I feel a tennis overload, but in a good way.”


PHOTOS: US Open gets underway in grand style at National Tennis Center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

The eyes of the tennis world are again on Queens for the next two weeks as the best players in the world seek the coveted U.S. Open championships at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Festivities leading up to the tournament’s start on Monday began last week with two fun-filled days of activities. Queens Day on Aug. 26 offered guests a range of events and programs centered around the “World’s Borough,” while Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Aug. 29 featured music, entertainment, tennis exhibitions and other activities geared at the younger generation of tennis fans.

The real business of the tournament got underway on Monday with the start of the two-week U.S. Open tournament, headlined by a grand opening ceremony in the evening on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Billie Jean King herself helped welcome guests, while Josh Groban and Vanessa Williams performed for the crowd.

Though Day One of this year’s open featured a few surprising upsets, including the ouster of Ken Nishikori, last year’s open runner-up, the men’s and women’s top seeds — Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams — were both victorious in their first-round matches.

When eyes weren’t on the action, fans across Arthur Ashe Stadium did their share of people watching, and they weren’t disappointed in finding a number of celebrities in attendance such as Alec Baldwin, Katie Couric and Ben Stiller.


BP Katz secures $32 million for Queens parks

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced Tuesday that she allocated $32 million of her Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary capital funds for construction, renovations and upgrades across 37 public parks in Queens.

Queens has a total of 7,273 acres of parkland within its border, covering more land mass than any other borough at over 10 percent. According to Katz, the capital investment intends to help enhance parks to be better enjoyed year-round by millions of children, seniors and families.

“Parks are the jewels of our neighborhoods,” Katz said. “Part of what defines Queens’ trademark quality of life – especially for the 2.3 million residents throughout our diverse communities – is the ample access to beautiful public parks and open space.”

The funds will be used for a wide variety of upgrades for parks across the borough, such as constructing dog runs and picnic areas, renovating pre-existing structures and planting greenery.

The preservation of the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park received the most funding with a total of $3 million. Two additional projects were also funded in the same park, including a $2 million renovation of the asphalt field at the World’s Fair Playground and a $480,000 replacement of the aviary mesh and marsh bridge at the Queens Zoo.

Several other projects on the list will also receive more than 1 million dollars in funding, including $2 million to upgrade to existing benches and equipment in Jamaica’s Norelli Hargreaves Park, $1.5 million to upgrade the running track and athletic court at Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica, $1.5 million to renovate the baseball fields at Glen Oaks Playground and $1.3 million to construct a meditation garden and upgrade Rachel Carson Playground in Kissena Corridor Park of Flushing.


Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival marks 25th anniversary this weekend

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo


All are invited to enjoy two exciting days of racing and entertainment during the 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York (HKDBF-NY) this weekend, Aug. 8 and 9, at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

HKDBF-NY is the largest event of its kind in the U.S., and for 24 years it has drawn an audience of more than 50,000 people from across North America. This free, multicultural festival is a celebration of the age-old tradition of dragon boat racing, a sport that makes use of colorful, custom-made teak boats specially made by craftsmen in Hong Kong. The boats, which have dragon heads and tails that adorn their front and back ends, are piloted by teams of 20 people: 18 paddlers, a drummer and a navigator.

More than 200 teams and 2,500 participants from the U.S. and Canada will be competing for cash and prizes in this year’s U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championship. Races that will be part of the championship will include a media invitational, a women’s invitational, a charity race, a corporate invitational and a sponsor’s challenge. Other special/invitational cup races will include the 25th Anniversary Invitational, the HSBC 150th Anniversary Invitational, and the Municipal Invitational, which will feature teams fielded by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Ron Kim and various New York City agencies such as the NYPD, the FDNY, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Parks Department. The New York City Heritage Championship Races will follow the opening day parade at noon on Saturday, Aug. 8.

Racing will begin at 9 a.m. and festival events will continue all day till approximately 5 p.m. Besides the races, attendees can enjoy presentations of traditional Chinese arts, martial arts demonstrations, the traditional dragon dance, music, and other demonstrations of folk arts and crafts. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the international food court.

“The board and I are very proud and excited to have been a part of the growth of the festival from 10 boats on the Hudson 25 years ago when the festival began, to commemorate the opening of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York (HKETO-NY), to this year’s festival with over 200 teams participating in celebration of the 25th anniversary,” said Henry Wan, chairman of the HKDBF-NY board. “HKDBF-NY has become one of the largest international dragon boat festivals in the world and a much-anticipated event on NYC’s summer calendar.”

The tradition of dragon boat racing dates back to the third century B.C. and commemorates the poet and reformer Qu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest his emperor’s policies. Locals raced in their boats to try and rescue the poet, but were too late. In order to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, they beat their drums and splashed their paddles. This marked the beginning of the annual Chinese rite.

For full event info, click here.


Meet the Queens Zoo’s newest edition: a Roosevelt elk calf

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The baby news keeps on coming for the Queens Zoo.

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park facility welcomed on June 25 a Roosevelt elk calf. It has joined the rest of the herd at the zoo’s woodland, bringing the herd to six, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced Tuesday.

Last June, a male Roosevelt elk calf was also born at the zoo.

Although only about 25 pounds at birth, adult bulls can grow up to 1,100 pounds and females can grow up to 700 pounds. According to WCS, they are the largest elk subspecies. Roosevelt elks are also one of the largest North American mammals and are noted for their distinct coats, dark brown head and pale brown torso.

Julie Larsen Maher_9256_Roosevelt Elk and Calf_QZ_07 27 15

Tuesday’s birth announcement follows another new, but tinier edition to the Queens Zoo in May — a southern pudu, the world’s smallest deer species.


Festival celebrating birds of prey flies into Flushing Meadows

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Flushing Meadows Corona Park will be the host of the 18th annual Raptor Fest, a festival that allows people to get up close and personal with New York City’s birds of prey.

The festival will be held on Oct. 3 and will introduce Queens residents to the birds native to the city including red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, kestrels and bald eagles, according to Richard Simon, deputy director of the Urban Park Rangers.

Previously held in Central Park and Prospect Park, Simon said Flushing Meadows Corona Park administrators reached out to the Parks Department to request the move to Queens. The festival is named raptor for the word meaning birds of prey, or birds that hunt and feed on other animals.

Children and adults can expect to see three flight demonstrations by a professional falconer and educational tables that will teach visitors about the birds around them.

Raptor Fest will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 near the Unisphere, where resident red-tailed hawks have made a home for themselves.

Simon said the goal of the festival is to raise awareness about the importance of birds of prey in New York City. He is also encouraging visitors to bring their cameras for the photo opportunities the festival will allow.

“They really are apex predators. They eat a lot of rodents and squirrels and some of them even eat large insects so they help control some of the pests that are in the city,” Simon said. “They’re really a great big bird so kids will have an easy time recognizing them and all of a sudden noticing that there’s a difference between pigeons and starlings and there are other birds we have in New York City.”


Police investigate alligator sighting in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/NYPD 110th Precinct

Officers from the 110th Precinct are on the hunt for an alligator after a possible sighting in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturday morning.

Reportedly, a jogger spotted the reptile — affectionately dubbed “Jaws” by the 110th Precinct —and called 911.

According to Deputy Inspector Christopher Manson, who reported the sighting on Twitter, the alligator is described as 3 1/2 feet long and “kinda thick.”

Manson also took to the precinct’s Twitter account to ask for advice about what kind of food officers should use to lure the animal out. “We need your advice. What kind of food should we use to lure the beast out!? After all he is a NYC gator. Pizza?” he asked in a post.

Officers arrived at the scene and canvassed the area but have not been able to track the reptile down.


Queens Theatre screens classic Lincoln Center performances outdoors at Flushing Meadows

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Queens Theatre

He began as an urban legend in early 19th-century London. In 1846, he starred in a story that was published in installments over 18 weeks. Then, he got a mention from Charles Dickens and appeared in a French novel before crossing over to theater, opera and film.

Sweeney Todd, a fictional barber who murders clients before a baker cooks their flesh into meat pies, has inspired countless drama productions over the past 200 years. Some of the best were operas featuring music by Stephen Sondheim that the New York Philharmonic put together in 2014 with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel as the stars.

On Aug. 4, a film of one of these performances will screen outdoors at 8 p.m. on Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Festival Lawn, thanks to a new month-long partnership between Queens Theatre and Lincoln Center Education. Video versions of other great Lincoln Center works will then screen on the remaining Tuesdays in August. (In case of rain, the show will go on inside Queens Theatre.)

On Aug. 11, footage from a concert by the Villalobos Brothers will be shown. This group, which hails from Mexico, mixes indigenous rhythms with jazz harmonies and classic music. These World Music pioneers impressed Lincoln Center brass so much that they returned for an encore presentation in 2014.

Video of a gala performance featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Alan Gilbert will screen on Aug. 18. Then, the fun will end on Aug. 25 with the 2012 Richard Tucker Opera Gala. In this film, singers such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Olga Borodina and Marcello Giordani belt out some of the most iconic operas in their repertoire, including “La Traviata” and “The Barber of Seville.”


New boats for Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival unveiled in Flushing

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

New boats for the 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for next month at Flushing Meadows Corona Park were unveiled Thursday morning with an awakening ceremony of ritual blessing before the big races.

According to organizers, the Dragon Boat Festival is the largest multicultural event of its kind in New York, drawing over 15,000 people last year.

At Thursday’s event, a demonstration by Shaolin martial artists began the kickoff of the pre-race festivities, and then officials, event organizers and sponsors were guided by a Buddhist monk in blessing the boat with incense and dotting the eyes of the carved dragons with red paint.

Organizer Henry Wan highlighted the variety of offerings to be enjoyed at the festival, including a land performance, stage performance, martial arts, multicultural song and dance, as well as souvenir giveaways from local and corporate sponsors.

“It’s an event for the whole family, and it’s free, so come and visit us,” Wan said.

The two-day racing festival has grown considerably since its 1991 debut, which commemorated the New York arrival of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, from 10 boats in the first year to over 200 in 2015. Racers are competing to win cash and prizes, and to encourage past participants to be a part of the event this year. A “senior” discount will also be available for those over the age of 40.

The Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual rite to honor Qu Yuan, a outspoken poet who drowned himself in third century B.C. to protest against the policies of the emperor in his home state. According to the legend of Qu Yuan, the local fishermen raced out to the river to save the poet, but were unsuccessful. During their frantic dash they beat drums and splashed their paddles to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, a move which is echoed by drums still used in today’s races.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that the event was a chance to welcome an international crowd and show off the cultural offerings of Queens. She was involved in the event’s first year while working in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman.

“It is exactly what Queens is about: having an international event where folks are coming from all over the world,” Katz said. “But really, the greatest participants are those that live right here, that have chosen to make Queens their home.”

Suzanne Brienza, an area manager of HSBC Bank who will be rowing as part of its team, the Red Dragons, said that her company has been practicing every week since April in anticipation of the competition. The bank has been an active part of the race as one of its original sponsors, and Brienza felt confident of their ability to win.

“It all depends on being in sync, and then the speed,” Brienza said.

This year’s festival will take place on the weekend of Aug. 8 and 9 at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Races will begin at 9 a.m. and the festivities will last on both days until 5 p.m.


Queens Botanical Garden hosts Brew Fest on Saturday

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Queens Botanical Garden

In ancient Babylon, a bride’s father was supposed to give his new son-in-law mead (aka honey beer) for an entire month after his daughter’s marriage. This roughly 4,000-year-old custom is believed to have spawned two common modern-day practices: the honeymoon (from “honey month”) and beer festivals.

This Saturday, the Queens Botanical Garden will keep the suds tradition flowing with its second annual Taste the World: Botanical Brew Fest. More than 20 beverage makers from around the United States — including Austin Eastciders, Greenport Harbor, Merchant du Vin, Sierra Nevada, and Sixpoint — will serve more than 50 selections. Plus, food trucks such as Pete’s Pizza and Wow Empanadas will be on hand.

Last year’s inaugural event commemorated the 50th anniversary of Lowenbrau Gardens, a Bavarian beer tent at the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which took place at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The celebration returns this year due to popular demand.

As more than 1,000 attendees are expected, the Brew Fest will have two sessions: noon to 3 p.m. and 4  to 7 p.m. The cover band Reprimand will serenade the crowd at the later session. Tickets are $50 at the door, but $30 in advance. Click here for early bird discounts on tickets.


Josh Groban to perform at US Open opening night ceremony

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USTA

The U.S. Open’s opening night ceremony in Queens will once again feature a chart-topping singer, and the National Tennis Center’s namesake will also make a special appearance.

Multiplatinum-selling artist Josh Groban is scheduled to perform at the Monday, Aug. 31, event that kicks off the annual tennis tournament at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced Thursday. Groban, who just released his seventh studio album, “Stages,” this April, broke into the music scene in the early 2000s and has sold millions of records worldwide.

Joining him at the ceremony will be tennis legend Billie Jean King, who will be on the court to welcome fans to the opening night along with USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams.

King won her first U.S. Open singles championship in 1967, going on to clinch three more titles. The USTA Tennis Center was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.

This year’s U.S. Open will take place from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 at the tennis center. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

The opening ceremony will be shown live on ESPN 2 as part of the network’s coverage of the tournament.


Plans for Willets Point mega mall blocked by appellate court

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

An appellate court blocked developers of proposed mega mall Willets West last week from using designated parkland without legislative approval, creating a major bump in the road to the project’s construction.

The Supreme Court had previously ruled on Aug. 21, 2014, in favor of the developers, Queens Development Group, who were co-defendants with the city in the suit. That decision was made on the grounds that the development was legal under a 1961 law written to allow for the construction of Shea Stadium on parkland, and effectively dismissed a suit aiming to block the development brought by state Senator Tony Avella and park advocates.

The four appellate judges overturned the Supreme Court on July 2 and unanimously agreed that the project cannot be legally built on the site because it is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Queens Development Group did not undergo a process called alienation, which allows a municipality to transfer parkland to a nonpublic entity. In this process the municipality must receive prior authorization from the state in the form of legislation enacted by the New York State Legislature and approved by the governor.

Justice Angela Mazzarelli wrote that the law allowing for the construction of Shea Stadium on parkland did not exempt any future projects from having to undergo the proper approval process.

“No reasonable reading of Administrative Code section 18-118 allows for the conclusion that the legislature in 1961 contemplated, much less gave permission for, a shopping mall, unrelated to the anticipated stadium, to be constructed in the park,” said Mazzarelli.

Avella and the leader of civic group Willets Point United, Gerald Antonacci, were glad to have claimed a victory after such a long fight.

“Since 2007, we have battled the city at all times over its plans for Willets Point, which expanded in 2012 against the community’s wishes to include the gigantic proposed ‘Willets West’ mall on public parkland,” said Antonacci. “Today the Appellate Division agrees with what we’ve said all along: The city and developers failed to follow lawful procedure and now as a result their whole project cannot proceed.”

“The fact of the matter is, this land was intended to be parkland, not the development of a shopping mall,” said Avella. “In a city where public land is in short supply, simply handing parkland over is a betrayal of trust.”

Willets West was proposed as the first phase of a major two-part rehabilitation plan for Willets Point which would have seen a retail mall and movie theater constructed on 30.7 acres of parking lot adjacent to Citi Field. These first steps toward redevelopment were to begin in 2015, and would have also included major infrastructure updates, including the remediation of 23 acres of Willets Point, the installation of sewage systems, roads and ramps to access local highways, parking spaces, and the development of a 200-room hotel.

The second phase of the Willets Point development was expected to commence in 2026, and involved the construction of mixed-income housing, a public school and additional acres of open space.

In an emailed statement, Queens Development Group said they would appeal the decision.

“This decision, which overturns a well-reasoned decision of the New York Supreme Court, blocks a plan that has been embraced by a wide variety of stakeholders from the City Council to civic groups to labor organizations and others,” said a spokesperson for Queens Development Group. “We believe the Appellate Division Court misinterpreted the statute, improperly narrowing the broad authority it conveyed which would result in an unacceptable status quo, instead of enabling a widely supported investment that will reverse 100 years of pollution and create thousands of much-needed good paying jobs.”