Build it and they will come
by David Weprin
Feb 14, 2012 | 2198 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, a group of retired policemen came together to organize one of the largest international expositions the world had ever seen. The end goal: to lift the city out of an economic depression.

The 1939 New York World's Fair, which took place in Queens, was the second largest American world's fair of all time, bringing millions of people from all over the world to the borough. In 1964, another world's fair was held, attracting even more visitors to Queens.

Today, the Unisphere stands as a symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit of Queens and a reminder that strong leadership is exactly what the doctor ordered in times of great economic distress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed plan to bring a new convention center to Queens pays homage to the legacy of the World's Fair and promises to put Queens on the map as home to the largest convention center in the nation.

Once again finding ourselves facing tough economic times, Governor Cuomo’s plan to bring an exhibition hall to Queens will generate desperately needed revenue for the city and state. This plan will act as a catalyst for economic growth by creating jobs and getting our workforce back to work.

JFK Airport, the international gateway to New York, as well as LaGuardia Airport, is minutes away by taxi, making the site of the convention Center a perfect location for business travelers and convention-goers.

Queens already attracts millions of tourists each year, and one only has to look at Citi Field, which already draws New Yorkers and tourists from around the world to partake in America’s favorite past time. The U.S. Open, the Queens Museum of Art and the New York Hall of Science attract millions more visitors throughout the year.

The proposed convention center would provide almost six times more space than the Jacob Javits Center and provide thousands of hotel rooms for convention goers. New York City has always been an epicenter of tourism and it deserves a premiere exhibition facility.

Further, the building of the complex won’t cost New York taxpayers a dime. The new convention center would be built on state-owned land, but paid for by private investment.

Revenues generated can be reinvested into critical infrastructure improvements that can grow the economy even further. In 1939, a special subway line, the IND World's Fair Railroad, was built specifically to make the fair more accessible to visitors and the Mets–Willets Point station was rebuilt to handle increased traffic. It was these types of public work projects that put people back to work.

As a proud New Yorker and Queens' resident, I believe it is time for New York to have the largest and most state-of-the-art convention center in the nation. It is time to get New Yorkers back to work and to invest in our communities.

It is time to build a convention center in Queens. As the old adage goes “Build it and they will come.”

David Weprin represents the 24th Assembly District in Queens.
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