Public-Private Partnerships: Improving Urban Life

By Perry Davis | Go to book overview

Ingredients for Successful Partnerships:
The New York City Case

DAVID ROCKEFELLER

When we began the New York City Partnership in 1979, we selected partnership from a list of a dozen or so names to signify a new and greater unity among the many components of New York's private sector. While we had government and organized labor very much in mind, the word partnership had not been conceived as a new model for social problem-solving through joint public-private ventures. Many people then thought of partnerships only in terms of law firms, tax shelters, or perhaps living arrangements between consenting adults.

A great deal has happened in the intervening years. From a somewhat tentative initial concept, the New York City Partnership has matured into a vigorous organization with solid programs in such areas as youth employment, education, public safety, affordable housing, and economic development. Work with the public sector and advocacy on public issues are central to all of the Partnership's activities. Its position with respect to the public sector is greatly strengthened by the fact that its 120-person board represents a cross section of New York's private sector.

The timing of the creation of the Partnership was in many ways fortunate; it corresponded with a shift in Federal policy that placed new emphasis on private‐ sector initiatives. Thus it was not accidental when President Reagan agreed to speak at the first annual luncheon of the Partnership in January 1982. He made it clear that many traditional Federal urban programs were going to be cut back or eliminated and that he expected the private sector to play a far greater role.

New York City had a head start in this regard because of its experience with the 1975 fiscal crisis. This crisis forced the financial community, business, labor, and public officials to work together as never before. This was a painful way to create mutual understanding and joint efforts, but it was certainly effective. Indeed, in retrospect at least, the best thing that happened to New York may have

____________________
These remarks were presented at "Public-Private Partnerships," a conference sponsored by New York City Partnership, Inc., and the Academy of Political Science, New York, New York, 13 June 1986.

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