Tag Archives: Jobs

Community board votes on proposed Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

A local community board has told developers if they want to move forward with a proposed development on the Astoria waterfront, they had better pay attention to the board’s suggestions.

One week after Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1, board members voted against the proposal unless developers follow recommendations given by the board.

“We have put down in writing the recommendations that we think will help improve the situation there and will make the Astoria west area productive and really something to be proud of in our community district,” said Elizabeth Erion, assistant chair of CB1’s zoning and variance committee.

The four pages of conditions included an increase of affordable housing units from 20 percent to 35 percent dispersed throughout all five buildings of the site and be included in every construction phase; increase of parking spaces; priority of construction and permanent jobs given to local residents and youth; commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities; and the importance of the 456-seat public elementary school constructed at the site.

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said his clients are happy the community board did not raise objections to the project and most of the conditions presented have already been changed. He said that developers will be submitting revisions to the proposal.

“[The community board] had some concerns and they expressed those concerns,” Weiss said. “But the important thing is that if you listen carefully to their vote they support the project itself.”

Although Weiss said developers are working with Department of City Planning to increase the number of affordable housing units, 35 percent would not be “realistic.”

“We are working with City Planning to increase the number of affordable units to what would be a realistically and economically viable affordable housing density,” he said.

The Astoria Cove proposal will now head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

 

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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Op-ed: Finding jobs in Queens


| oped@queenscourier.com

 STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO, JR.

As the winter weather is at long last breaking, so is a seemingly never-ending downturn in the labor sector. Employers appear to be relishing in warmer temperatures as suddenly the country has seen an increase in jobs for education, health, retail and more.

The United States’ unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April — the lowest stat in about five years, according to the Labor Department.

However, at home, we still have work to do. While the country overall has seen improvement, New York City — and Queens — might be falling behind.

The latest numbers show the city at about an 8 percent unemployment rate and Queens not far behind at 7.6 percent. Residents in Queens, the most diverse and one of most populous New York City boroughs, have a range of skill sets that presumably would be ideal for any given employer, yet we continue to fall short with job opportunities.

It is no secret the city’s middle class population has struggled to maintain its class status. My constituents speak of holding two or more jobs or living in a multiple-income household just to get by. But there is also the all-too-frequent case of those coming to my office because they are trapped — unable to find work and scared as to how they will move forward.

For the younger demographic, many fresh out of college and eager to work, finding a job is priority number one. I know this group has the energy to apply to companies day in and day out, and many of them are rewarded for this perseverance. However, those with a few more years under their belt are occasionally overlooked by employers.

My office is hosting job fairs to address the need for finding employment for those who want to work. The first job fair is for those 50 years old and over. I have come to see this growing, overlooked senior population run into a variety of issues when searching for a job — sometimes they have “too much” experience; other times their work history doesn’t line up with current job qualifications. Many times, this group is too busy running a household or taking care of children to devote an endless amount of time to filling out applications. That’s the reason we sought specific vendors to help the older individuals find a job.

The Senior 50+ Job Fair is on Friday, May 30, at the Queens Community House in Kew Gardens, where groups such as the New York State Department of Labor, Sunnyside Home Care Inc., Family Aides Inc., GoodTemps, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and more will be present to give attendees the opportunities they need. Over the last year, the health care sector was one that added the most jobs and grew the fastest.

My other job fair is Friday, Sept. 19, and will feature approximately 100 vendors offering job opportunities to all who attend. That job fair will be held at the new Rockaway YMCA located at 207 Beach 73rd Street. For more details on either job fair, call me at 718-738-1111.

 

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Grant will put residents affected by Sandyback to work


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Thousands knocked onto the unemployment line by Sandy can now head back to work, while also helping fellow residents affected by the storm.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $27 million federal grant to put 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers to work cleaning up areas ravaged by the storm.

The funds were provided by a National Emergency Grant.

“As New York State begins to rebuild and clean up after the incredible destruction caused by Sandy, the enormous amount of work to be done gives us a chance to provide young and unemployed New Yorkers with job opportunities cleaning up their communities,” said Cuomo.

The Department of Labor is working with local officials in affected areas to identify locations to dispatch the cleanup and rebuilding crews. An additional 700 New Yorkers are set to be hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to replace out of state employees that descended on the state after Sandy.

Unemployment claims skyrocketed in the aftermath of Sandy, with 46,000 more residents requesting unemployment insurance after the storm, approximately a 33 percent increase. Prior to Sandy, the unemployment rate fell from 8.9 percent to 8.7 percent in October, according to the Department of Labor.

“What is the economic impact of those claims? When are those people going back to work? What happened to those businesses?” asked Cuomo.

Besides the unemployment claims, 265,000 businesses were affected by Sandy, the governor said.

“There was a tremendous loss of valuable commercial property, much of it in downtown Manhattan. It could be another month before some of those buildings come back online,” he said. “That’s a lot of jobs, that’s a lot of economic loss for the state”

Residents in disaster areas may be eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) relief which is open to those injured during the storm and unable to work, were unable to reach their job because of transportation issues or if their workplace was destroyed.

Interested unemployed residents can log onto www.labor.ny.gov/sandyjobs or http://www.labor.ny.gov/jobs/regional.shtm to apply.

Libraries offer free job help


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The Queens Library is helping residents lay a solid foundation to build their professional lives.

Throughout its 62 community facilities, Queens Library provides extensive job readiness and computer training through funding from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). All classes come at everyone’s favorite cost — free.

“This enhanced computer training and job training is very much in demand right now,” said Jennifer Manley, Queens Library director of government and community affairs.

With the $3.2 million BTOP grant, the library is able to provide a constant flow of classes six days a week. Among the dozens of options are classes on how to start your job search, interview skills, one-on-one sessions for resume and cover letter review, and career exploration.

“We’re always adding more classes. We can never have enough,” said Tara Lannen-Stanton, BTOP coordinator, who says the community participation has been incredible.

Among the most popular classes, according to Lannen-Stanton, are Introduction to Computers and Microsoft Office training.

“There are still so many people that need to know exactly how to use a computer. Just because you know how to use a smartphone or YouTube doesn’t necessarily mean you have the skills necessary to find work in the tough economy,” she said.

Also available is the Metrix Learning program, an online certification system. Metrix takes industry-recognized training content from a variety of sources and provides a 90-day training license to customers who can go into the system, set a job goal and receive recommendations for what courses to take based on an analysis of their skills.

Once the training course and practice tests have been completed, if the student receives a score of at least 80 percent, they can receive a free voucher for certification. Since this program was implemented in April 2011, more than 600 people have participated in Metrix.

“People more and more are beginning to recognize the value of certification,” said Lannen-Stanton.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Queens Library BTOP programs, call 718-990-8625 or visit queenslibrary.org.

US Open to hold job fair July 12


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

For the second year, the US Open will hold a job fair on July 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m (gates will close at 3 p.m.), at the US Open Club. Those hired will help out at the annual tennis tournament that takes place August 27 through September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing. About 700,000 visitors are expected to come this year.

There are openings for a range of positions and skill sets. These jobs include box office customer service reps, cleaners, retail sales, van drivers, cooks and rest room attendants.

Perspective employees can also apply online, and applications will be accepted through August. Applicants must be available to work every day of the tournament.

For more information about the job fair and positions, visit www.teamusopentennis.com.

 

City kicks off summer youth jobs program at Queens Botanical Garden


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the mayor's office

Out of school and into the work force.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped kick off the first day of the city’s summer youth employment program at the Queens Botanical Gardens, which will have 35 employees working as garden greeters, horticulture aides and aides to the children’s garden.

More than 31,000 city kids are participating in the program. The participants were selected through a lottery system and placed by community‐based organization partners at local nonprofits and businesses.

“With many young people now struggling to find employment, opportunities for summer jobs are very welcome,” Bloomberg said. “These programs help working families, keep kids in school, and help students do better on Regents exams and increases graduation rates. We are grateful to the more than 80 corporate and philanthropic sponsors for their support of our City’s young people this summer.”

Students who work during high school tend to stay in school, graduate at higher rates and are more likely to work after graduation, according to the mayor’s office.  Students’ attendance and likelihood to take the Regents also increases the year following summer employment, according to a recent New York University study.

“The research is clear that summer learning loss disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable low-income students, which is why it is so important that we continue to support our city’s summer jobs programs and pilot new initiatives such as the ones we are announcing today,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

The city launched two new summer employment programs, Summer Quest and Summer Scholars, to go along with the already established Summer Youth Employment Program, Ladders for Leaders, the Young Adult Internship Program, the Young Adult Literacy Program and the Young Men’s Initiative Work Progress Program

 

Jobs — that’s he name of the game


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Willets Point announcement last week came with some nice numbers.

More than 12,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs will come from the proposed Willets Point renovation, which includes retail space, a hotel and quicker access to the Van Wyck Expressway.

The reconstruction — to be funded by $3 billion in private investment, as well as $100 million in city capital for the demolition, remediation, infrastructure and permanent improvements — is expected to bring $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years.

In this economy, that’s music to our ears.

The only part of the plan still left open are tentative plans for affordable housing and a home for a planned convention center in the area — both of which we support wholeheartedly.

Just think of it — in a few years’ time the area that is now the Iron Triangle will be refreshed, refurbished, and buzzing with business.

What could be better than that?

Returning soldiers seek employment at veteran job fair


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Ruben Muniz

Veterans recently suited up, got their game face on and sprung into action.

A job fair for military veterans was held at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale on Friday, June 8. Over 90 companies and organizations were in attendance as well as State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller.

“Veterans have a lot of hurdles to jump over once they return,” Addabbo said.

The job fair comes at a time where many veterans are struggling to find employment. The unemployment rate for all veterans is 7.8 percent, below the national average of 8.2 percent, but nearly 13 percent of returning soldiers find themselves without a job,

“The transition from military to civilian life is challenging,” said Chris Bliss, a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas in Bosnia and Iraq.

Bliss was recruiting at the fair for NYC Business Solutions, a city government initiative offering free services for new small business owners.

“Life goes on after the service. You have to find a job,” said Bliss.

Ellis Gomez, a U.S. Navy veteran originally from Puerto Rico who has several years experience in the Navy as an electrical technician as well as degree in electrical engineering, said it has not been easy to land a job in this economy.

“[The job market] has a lot of ups and downs,” Gomez said, who was one of more than 100 vets at the fair.

U.S. Army vet and Queens resident Louis Goagioa felt that the discipline and humility of veterans gives them an edge in the job market.

“Veterans are much more coachable. They are ready to learn at all times,” said Goagioa. “It’s been more than difficult for veterans [to find a job]. It’s disheartening.” Addabbo stressed the importance of taking initiative to help veterans.

“We do a lot for our veterans, but we can still do more.”

JetBlue expansion at JFK will bring jobs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of JetBlue

More than 1,000 jobs are expected to come from a green-lit terminal expansion at JFK International Airport, the Port Authority and JetBlue announced last week.

The expansion will add 145,000-square-feet on three levels to the already 635,000-square-feet JetBlue occupies in Terminal 5. The new terminal will be called T5i and handle international flights and house a federal customs station — eliminating the need for customs inspections at Terminal 4 — according to JetBlue.

Port Authority Chair David Samson complimented the airline on its service and its commitment to the area.

“The JetBlue agreement is another great example of the agency’s efforts to partner with the private sector to provide for our region’s transportation infrastructure needs, while creating high-paying construction jobs and spurring further long-term economic activity in New York and New Jersey,” he said.

Along with the expected 1,090 jobs, the project is expected to bring in $74 million in wages and $325 million from economic activity over the duration, the Port Authority said. The project is expected to begin this summer; completion is expected by either 2014 or 2015. A price tag for the expansion has not yet been set.

Executives of Long Island City-based JetBlue said they were happy to continue expanding at JFK.

“We’re excited to move forward with our plans to further expand our presence at JFK and to create a seamless travel experience for our customers transferring from international flights, and would like to thank the Port Authority for their approval and on-going support,” said vice president of Corporate Real Estate Richard Smyth.

[Update with pics] Cuomo wants convention center, table gaming for Aqueduct Racino


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Convention Interior 1 w

There were two major points in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech that everyone saw coming, both of which have a lot to do with Queens.

During his speech on Wednesday, January 4, the governor formally introduced the idea of legalizing full table gaming in New York State, which would mean big news for Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. He also revealed his plan to initiate the building of the country’s largest convention center on that ground, the former site of the Aqueduct Racino.

The 3.8 million-square-foot convention center would accommodate the nation’s largest events, drive demand for hotel rooms and restaurants, and create new tourism revenues. The project would be a $4 billion investment that the governor said is estimated to generate tens of thousands of jobs and create new economic activity throughout the state.

“Today is different. We are not just talking about problems, we are talking about our opportunities,” he said. “Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period.”

The project would be headed by Genting America, the same company that conceived and constructed the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.
“Genting America is extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with Governor Cuomo to build the largest convention center in the country,” said Genting America’s senior vice president of development Christian Goode. “It’s a great time to invest and grow in New York, and we are thrilled to be able to play a role in creating jobs and increasing tourism.”

On the gaming end, Cuomo said the state must develop a comprehensive approach to casino gaming because the state is losing tax revenue, tourism dollars and jobs to neighboring states. Cuomo said he will support a constitutional amendment to allow gaming in the state, which he said will generate an estimated $1 billion in economic activity in the state.

“It’s not about chips and cards, it’s about jobs,” he said. “Let’s get the jobs back in New York, and let’s take the first step this year.”

[Update] Queens postal center to remain open – for now


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Elected officials joined union representatives and several community leaders to deliver a clear message to the United States Postal Service (USPS) — don’t even think about closing Queens’ distribution center.

And for now, it seems the USPS got the message.

Just days after State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Congressmember Joseph Crowley led a rally to protest the impending closure of the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone, the Postal Service acquiesced and struck a deal to freeze all postal closures until May 2012.

“This is good news for Queens, and for the country. Hundreds of families in Queens can breathe a sigh of relief, but only temporarily,” said Stavisky. “We will continue to fight for a better alternative. Revamping the Postal Service should not require laying people off and hurting local businesses.”

In a plan that Stavisky called the “wrong decision at the wrong time,” the Postal Service announced earlier this month that it would “consolidate” Queens’ distribution center with another in Brooklyn. Stavisky said that this action would force residents and businesses who patronize the facility to travel to Brooklyn’s processing center — over 13 miles and hours of traffic away.

Officials also said that closing the facility will cost Queens over 1,000 jobs in mail handling, mail carrying, clerk jobs, maintenance workers and drivers. Local businesses would also feel the pinch, as many generate business from their proximity to the plant.

“The USPS plan is flawed. Their study has been rushed and is deceiving,” Stavisky said. “We can’t afford to be hemorrhaging jobs in this economy. We need time to find alternative measures that would not be as catastrophic for Queens.”

Crowley added that taking away jobs is not the kind of Christmas present the borough was expecting, so this reprieve is a welcomed – if temporary – holiday gift.

“The simple fact is we need more jobs in Queens, not less,” said Crowley.

The American Postal Workers Union, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and several civic associations were also on hand at the December 9 rally. With the announcemnt of the closure freeze, it seems the USPS heard the calls for more public comment time.

According to those in attendance at the rally, the USPS has yet to release the contents of its feasibility study — which the Service used to determine the need for closure. But Stephen Larkin, executive vice president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the USPS is ignoring the facts.

“It’s our concern that the level of distribution of mail to Queens, specifically people who are waiting to pay bills, rent and mortgages, are going to find an increased delay,” he said.

This reprieve gives Queens elected officials more time to do the work necessary to keep postal service in Queens.

“While this decision does not mean our postal facilities are in the clear, it does allow for more time to seek alternatives to help USPS meet its financial obligations,” said Crowley. “I understand the Postal Service has a bottom line, but balancing its books on the backs of Queens’ and Bronx families is not the answer.”

Flushing mail center may close


| jlane@queenscourier.com

usps-6

Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing may be closed or consolidated, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The center — the only one in Queens under study — is responsible for sorting and distributing mail throughout Queens. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“We have too many processing plants that are not operating at 100 percent capacity because we have no mail,” said USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid. “It doesn’t make good business for us to continue 452 facilities when we can reduce that by half and still process the mail.”

Reid said the USPS is looking to possibly consolidate its operations into the Brooklyn New York Processing and Distribution Center or the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center in Manhattan.

As far as service, only first-class mail products would be affected, Reid said.

“Right now we can get first-class mail from Queens to Brooklyn or to Manhattan in one to two days. We’re changing that nationally to two to three days,” she said.

There will be no other changes since other mail classes already follow a two to three day delivery standard, Reid said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Mail volumes have been going down drastically since 2006 and we anticipate that our first-class mail product is never going to return to previous peak levels,” Reid said.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies completely on their own products and services for funding. Its main product is first-class mail, Reid said.

“As first class mail declines, so does our revenue and our revenue continues to go down. We’re facing a financial short-fall by the end of September,” she said.

USPS studies will be concluded in three months. By then, they will announce the results to the general public. At that time, mailers will be given the opportunity to comment during public meetings. Their comments will then be considered before the final decision.

Could dozens of Walmarts be coming to Queens?


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Wal-Mart

A recent study estimated Walmart could open over 150 stores in New York City – 43 in Queens alone – if the retail giant is allowed to enter the New York City market.

ALIGN, a New York-based nonprofit, released a study after analyzing Walmart’s market share in the grocery industry – 21 percent – and calculating the minimum number of stores the retailer would be required to open to reach a corresponding share in the five boroughs.

To reach this market share, the study estimates Walmart would need to open 43 stores, three supercenters, nine Walmart Markets and 31 Walmart Express stores.
Reports have indicated the chain would open smaller stores – 15,000-square-foot range – in the city, as opposed to the 185,000-square-foot megastores.

In recent years, Walmart has expressed its desire to establish a presence in the largest consumer market in the U.S., only to be denied each time. A recent poll by NY1/Marist said 64 percent of Queens residents support Walmart opening a store within the city limits. Seventy six percent of residents said they would shop at the store if one opened in their neighborhood. The WalmartNYC Facebook page has garnered 47,000 likes.

According to Walmart, Queens residents spent $84.3 million last year shopping at the store. There are five Walmarts within driving distance of Queens in Nassau County.

In response to the ALIGN study, Walmart said that the market share they have in other markets took over five decades to achieve. The store called the insinuation that 159 stores will open overnight an attempt to “manipulate reality.”

“We remain focused on solutions for New Yorkers who need jobs and want more affordable grocery options in their own neighborhood,” Walmart said in a statement. “It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of residents want Walmart in the city and we’re working hard to make access to our stores more convenient.”

“Walmart is desperate for growth in New York City, because the company has saturated most non-urban U.S. markets, and its U.S. stock has been stagnating,” said Josh Kellerman, an ALIGN researcher who co-authored the study with Stephanie Luce.

The study also estimates over 1,000 jobs in Queens – and almost 4,000 throughout the city – would be lost, a number Walmart disputes as based on an out-of-date study.