By Jill Colvin
CHELSEA — The Bloomberg administration is vying to attract a top applied science research school to the city to bolster its engineering sector, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced Thursday.
The city is asking universities and other organizations to submit proposals for the new facility, and has offered Governor's Island and the Goldwater Hospital Campus on Roosevelt Island among four potential city-controlled sites that could be used as future campuses.
In his first major speech since his June appointment, Steel, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, told the audience at the Google headquarters in Chelsea that engineering is one of the areas in which the city still lags behind.
"As we continue to transform New York into the city of innovation, excelling in applied sciences and engineering will become increasingly important," he said in a statement.
The city is also pledging to make "a significant contribution" to the project in addition to the land. Steel declined to disclose how much that could be until proposals have been received, but assured the project would be "ambitious" in scale.
The announcement comes on the heels of news that the city has ordered a 20 percent reduction in capital spending over the next 10 years to help bridge a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
In a letter released by City Hall Wednesday, Budget Director Mark Page informed city agency heads of the cutbacks and asked for suggestions about where to scale back.
But Steel argued that, despite cutting back on services, it is crucial for the city to keep investing in capital projects, especially in the fields of education and research, to attract new businesses and boost job growth.
"At a time of fiscal challenges, we will not lose focus on the investments that position us as a more diverse, more prosperous, more innovative city in the 21st Century and beyond," Steel said, noting that development did not stop during the Great Depression or other times of economic distress.
"We’re going to finish what we started or at last keep it going as best we can," he said.
In addition to the engineering school, Steel said the administration is also hoping to sell New York as commercial bio-science hub.
He also pushed the need for "significant" pension reform and said the current system is sucking funds that could be better used elsewhere. The administration will be working with Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to find ways to scale down benefits, he said.
Last week, Bloomberg delivered his own speech outlining the steps he believes the country must take to create jobs and boost growth, which also emphasized positioning the city as a "center of innovation."