Rachel Barnhart called for city-first economic development policies.

Rochester continues to be victimized by job sprawl. The city continues to lose thousands of jobs to the suburbs. These jobs are migrating further and further away from the city. Census data shows the city lost about 30,000 jobs between 2002 and 2014. Meanwhile, about 21,000 jobs have migrated to outer-ring suburbs or outside of Monroe County.

Why should we care?

  • Limited or No Access to Transit

Our transit system is not set up to handle job sprawl. Only one-third of the region’s residents can get to a job by bus within 90 minutes. As a result, people are forced to drive alone to work. People without vehicles cannot access jobs.

  • Cost

The median income for city residents who have jobs is $26,460. Owning a car costs about $8,558 a year. Putting jobs on transit lines saves residents money. There is less wear and tear on roads when vehicle miles traveled are reduced.

  • Environment

Locating jobs near people cuts down on vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. By using infill lots for new construction, green space is preserved.

What Does City First Look Like?

The city must push the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council, Empire State Development and Monroe County to enact policies that incentivize locating jobs in the city, and de-incentivize locating jobs in areas not accessible to transit.

State and federal policies enabled the flight of residents and jobs from the city. For example, building highways and other infrastructure allowed people to abandon urban areas. Cities were hurt by not being able to expand their borders. They were left with a shrinking tax base and poorer residents.

“As mayor, I will fight for the city’s interests,” Barnhart said. “The Morin-Ryan agreement is a showcase for what is possible. The sales-tax sharing agreement was recognition that the city needs helps from the region. We must now work on enacting additional policies, as the city continues to lose residents and jobs.”

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