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July 26, 2011

Coney Island and Brighton Beach Open for Business

Comptroller's Report Shows Diverse Community on the Rebound

An economic snapshot of the Coney Island and Brighton Beach communities released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli portrays a vibrant and diverse community in the midst of large public-private revitalization, bouncing back quickly from the economic downturn of recent years.

"From the boardwalk to the breakers, Coney Island and Brighton Beach are back as dynamic neighborhoods where New Yorkers can come to live, work and play," DiNapoli said. "Businesses are growing, home prices are rebounding and beachgoers are on the rise. This area has benefited greatly from New York City's investment in its economic growth and you can see it all over these neighborhoods."

The greater Coney Island area gained 1,840 private sector jobs in 2010, 60 percent of the 3,080 jobs the area lost during the recession. Total private sector employment now stands at 27,530 for the greater Coney Island area, an increase of 7.1 percent. This rate of job growth far exceeded the citywide growth rate of 0.9 percent and was more than twice the growth rate in the rest of Brooklyn.

The neighborhoods of Coney Island and Brighton Beach have the seventh-highest concentration of immigrants in New York City: more than 50 countries are represented in the area, including a large population from Ukraine and Russia. Nearly half of the area's 111,063 residents are foreign born, well above the city's average of 35.6 percent.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Most businesses in the area are small businesses. In 2008, three-quarters of the area's 4,030 businesses employed fewer than five workers and 88 percent had fewer than 10 workers.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, the number of businesses in the area grew by 21.4 percent, significantly faster than the citywide gain of 5.8 percent.
  • More than half of all the businesses in the area in 2008 were concentrated in just four sectors: health care and social assistance, retail trade, construction, and services such as car shops and beauty salons.
  • The health care and social assistance sector is the area's largest employer, accounting for 30 percent of all jobs in the area. Employment in the health care and social assistance sector grew by 1.6 percent over the previous year for a total of 8,370 jobs in 2010.
  • Retail trade is the second-largest employment sector in the area—accounting for more than one out of every six jobs in 2010. Retail trade employment expanded by 660 jobs from 2003 to 2010, increasing each year except for 2008.
  • The population has grown 7.1 percent since 2006, a strong contrast to slower population growth in Brooklyn (2.3 percent) and the City overall (2.2 percent).
  • As of 2009, senior citizens accounted for more than one-quarter of the area's population, roughly two times the share of senior citizens in Brooklyn as a whole, reflecting both an aging population and the large number of nursing homes and other care facilities in the area
  • In 2010, 12.8 million visitors came to the beaches of Coney Island, three times more than in 2009.

The area has traditionally been known as an urban amusement destination. One year after the city rezoned the neighborhood in 2009 to create a 27-acre Coney Island amusement and entertainment district, the first new amusement park in almost 50 years, Luna Park, opened. In 2011, Scream Zone opened alongside Luna Park. Coney Island is also the home of the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium, which is currently undergoing Sea Change, a more than $100 million renovation and conservation and education program for the New York Bight – from Cape May, N.J. to Montauk, NY. In addition, crowds are drawn to MCU Park, a 10,000-person capacity stadium built in 2001 that is home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Class A affiliate of the New York Mets.

"As this report shows, Coney Island is going boldly into the 21st century, with just as much character—and characters—as ever," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "Thanks to this economic 'snapshot' from Comptroller DiNapoli, we know the future of Coney Island is as bright as the summer sun shining on the boardwalk."

"We knew the Coney Island redevelopment plan was a success, and this report proves it," said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. "Since the City Council passed the redevelopment plan in 2009, we've experienced amazing growth and development, bringing desperately-needed jobs and housing to the 50,000 people who call Coney Island home. And this is only the beginning. With record crowds visiting Coney Island and more exciting projects in the pipeline, we're coming closer to making Coney Island a year-round entertainment destination. I want to thank New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and his staff for the effort they put into developing this report, and for recognizing the amazing success we've experienced."

"Brighton Beach and the overall Greater Coney Island area is a true reflection of what New York City is all about," said Councilman Michael Nelson. "With a population representing over 50 countries, the Brighton Beach and Coney Island communities are truly a microcosm of diversity. Moreover, the economic upturn sweeping the area is a testament to the influx of public and private funding that will bring the Greater Coney Island area back to its glory days."

"We continue to see the renaissance of Coney Island and Brighton Beach that is due mostly to our small business community," said Senator Diane Savino. "I am happy to be here with Comptroller DiNapoli to bring a much needed focus on the state of this area's re-development. As we move forward with what will continue to be a great adventure for this community, I look forward to working with my colleagues in City and State government to help Coney Island fulfill its promise"

"I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli and his staff for putting this report together, it shows the rest of the state something all of us here know, that South Brooklyn is the best place to live." said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. "Our economy has taken a sharp turn for the better and most importantly jobs in this area are increasing. A number of business sectors have shown strong numbers and I hope to see this trend increase over the coming months and years. Additionally our title as America's Playground has been renewed. I dare you to take a ride on the cyclone, a dip in the ocean, and eat a hot dog at Nathan's and not leave a very happy person."

"The Comptroller's findings are further evidence of the success of the City's efforts to revitalize Coney Island," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. "With the opening of Scream Zone and Luna Park over the last two years and the continued presence of Coney Island's classic amusement offerings, this great Brooklyn icon is attracting more visitors than ever, and creating economic activity for the residents of the neighborhood who had too few employment opportunities for too long."

"It is clear Coney Island and Brighton Beach are coming back and the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium is a proud member of this community," said John Calvelli, WCS's Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. "Our current multi-million dollar renaissance at the New York Aquarium, Sea Change, will help send ripple effects across the economy in these neighborhoods. Sea Change will revitalize the NY Aquarium campus – including the construction of a magnificent new shark exhibit and the creation of a new conservation program for New York waters. The aquarium, Coney Island and Brighton Beach are great investments for the city, state, corporations and all who want to do business here. Public-private partnerships will ensure the future of Coney Island and Brighton Beach."

For a copy of the report click here or visit:

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