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More jobs & housing coming for Jamaica

Tourists and business travelers are continuing to flock to New York City in huge numbers. Last year, we hosted a record 43.8 million visitors, and every indication is that 2007 is going to be another banner year. In just the month of May, for example, 9.6 million passengers used our regional airports; that is 9 percent more than in May 2006.
As popular as we are as a travel destination, however, we cannot take anything for granted. Our tourism industry - which supports more than 368,000 jobs in restaurants, hotels, and other businesses throughout our city - faces stiff, non-stop competition from other cities around the world. Moreover, that is why in recent days, we have taken some important steps to sharpen our competitive edge in an area so vital to our economy.
The City Council recently approved the wide-ranging rezoning we proposed for Kennedy Airport’s neighboring community of Jamaica. Covering almost 370 city blocks, the rezoning is the product of nearly five years of hard work by city agencies, local elected officials, and civic leaders.
It now clears Jamaica for take-off as a thriving business district linked to our busiest regional airport - the kind of airport business hub that most of the world’s other great cities already have. Specifically, the rezoning sets the stage for the development of three million square-feet of new office, retail, and hotel space; 9,500 new jobs, and also 5,200 new homes in a community well-served by mass transit.
To maintain the single-family home character of residential streets in Jamaica, the rezoning protects nearly 160 blocks from construction of “out of scale” buildings. And to make Jamaica a more attractive place to live, work, and do business, the city plans new open spaces, significant upgrades to sewer and water systems, and other improvements.
All that will complement progress at Kennedy itself, like last month’s opening of American Airlines’ new $1.3 billion terminal. The biggest project Kennedy has seen in decades, it is a major vote of confidence in New York’s future by an important employer in our city - a company that already operates more than 240 daily flights in and out of the New York area.
At the terminal’s opening, NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing and tourism promotion agency, also launched its new “Just Ask the Locals” campaign. Maybe you’ve seen or heard some of the ads that are part of the campaign. They encourage visitors to get the most out of the New York experience by going to the experts: Us - all 8.2 million of us.
Drawing on the examples of celebrity locals like Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Tiki Barber, the “Just Ask the Locals” campaign also urges New Yorkers to help visitors enjoy everything that the world’s greatest city has to offer.
So let us all share our insider tips on New York. It is a chance for us to show the world just what a friendly city this really is. In addition, it is a good way to say, “Thank you and come back soon” to visitors who make a nearly $25 billion-a-year impact on our economy. That is not just good manners; it’s good business, too.

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