Brooklyn Navy Yard staff announce plans for new public portal
New York State’s Oldest and Most Venerable Manufacturing Center Embraces Job Training and High-Tech Production
Continuing its growth and diversification, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation’s (BNYDC) latest project is development of Building 77 as the Yard’s new public portal. “It will be a small version of what’s happening in the yard as a whole,” BNYDC Chief of Staff Clare Newman explained. “It will be open to the public and have 3,000 people working within. We expect it will become a hub of activity, with food and retail shops on the ground floor. It will be a place where all the yard businesses can come together.”
The 16-story building, originally designed as a windowless warehouse, will benefit from a $185 million dollar build-out that will leave it with two penthouse floors and a 60,000-square-foot ground floor, slated to include, among others, Russ & Daughters as tenants.
No institution has mirrored the ups and downs of its home borough more precisely than the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Commissioned by President John Adams in 1801, the yard housed the nation’s first formal naval college, the Naval Lyceum. U.S. Navy men of war launched from its docks would go on to fame and become emblazoned onto the nation’s consciousness, including the first armored steam cruiser, Fulton II, the USS Maine, USS Arizona and Mighty Mo’ herself, the USS Missouri.
After Japan’s formal surrender on the Missouri’s veranda deck, the yard continued to build and launch U.S. Navy ships, but at much slower pace. When Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara closed the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1966, it was the oldest continuously operated industrial plant in New York state.
Today, with more than 300 businesses now on site, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation offers recruitment services to help place and train workers for their tenants. “They [BNYDC coordinators] go out to the businesses [and] find out what their needs are,” explained Chief Administrative Officer Jocelynne Rainey. “And then we start the recruitment process … at no cost to the seeker or to the business.” Rainey went to explain that funds from the New York Small Business Services help offset the wages of new workers as they undergo training.
Clusters of men and women filled the Albert C. Wiltshire Employment Center, some completing employment applications, others working assiduously on computer screens. In a classroom, employment specialist Sam Vega discussed interview strategies with about a dozen students ranging in age from late teens to middle-age.
“Our model,” explained BNYDC CEO David Ehrenberg, “is not a social service. We’re trying to make the right placement for companies, because that’s what brings them back.”
“We also have an internship,” Rainey said. “Which gives students the chance to make money over the summer. When we started we used to have to beg businesses to take our interns. Now, they’re calling us to request our interns. It’s a way to give back to the community.”
Covering more than 300 acres, navigating around the yard on foot is daunting. Hence an in house transportation system consisting of shuttles and buses is available. After leaving the employment, press was guided into one such bus. Our first stop was Kingsbridge Garment Care, a dry cleaning plant. Proprietor Richard Aviles conducted a tour with an enthusiasm for all things dry cleaning that rivaled Willy Wonka.
“We’re a family here,” Aviles said. “Our staff has the equivalency of a Ph.D in stain removal! Everyone here has jurisdiction over the processes that took place before the item came to them. If, for example, there’s a wrinkle in the garment, they can send the item back with the attitude, ‘Thank you very much for letting me do quality!’”
“This is really a great place for us to be,” Jose Luis Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network. “We’re expanding. We’re hoping to get funding to build a new studio on the roof, and by 2018, we plan to have 30,000 square feet of space … and a lot of that is due to the mentorship of the Navy Yard.”
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