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NYC mayoral hopeful McGuire pushes for infrastructure projects, cooperation with tech firms in jobs plan

Ray McGuire, vice chairman of Citigroup Inc.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ray McGuire, the former Citigroup executive who is running to be mayor of New York, will soon roll out a plan that he says will bring more than 500,000 jobs to the city.

McGuire’s campaign gave CNBC a first look at what he will call for in the plan. He proposes creating jobs through a wide range of methods, including a large-scale infrastructure reform proposal and tapping into federal and state subsidies.

New York lost over 500,000 jobs in the 12 months through December, due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.

McGuire’s plan will also push for increased city cooperation with technology companies, from local start-ups to Silicon Valley giants, to help job growth.

McGuire is among a large group of Democrats running for mayor. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang recently jumped into the race. The primary is scheduled for June.

A senior member of McGuire’s campaign told CNBC that the Wall Street executive would first pitch ideas to communities about bringing these tech businesses into the city before engaging with any of the companies. This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.

McGuire’s plan comes nearly two years after Amazon pulled the plug on its plan to establish a so-called second headquarters in New York following strong pushback from progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Amazon said it would have brought 25,000 jobs to New York. The company is now leasing space in Manhattan.

McGuire’s plan does not mention Amazon or any other specific company.

The former Citi executive aims to enact his jobs plan within his first 100 days if he is elected mayor. Much of it would happen through executive authority. Other pieces will need partnering with either the city council or the state or federal governments.

The plan, for instance, proposes bringing back 50,000 small business jobs through wage subsidies that would cover “50 percent of a worker’s salary for one year.”

“Small businesses could apply for the subsidy for multiple employees, but the program would be capped at 50 percent of a business’s January 2020 headcount,” the plan says.

Small businesses in New York were deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. McGuire’s plan says it would “target the program to businesses that lost more than 40 percent of total revenue compared to 2019 levels” while also making sure the funds go to “communities hardest hit by unemployment as a result of the pandemic.”

The senior campaign advisor said that the subsidies would partially come from the $2 trillion federal Covid relief bill that then-President Donald Trump signed early last year. This person noted that there’s a piece of the bill that has a wage subsidies component.

The Economic Policy Institute says on its website that the legislation includes a “100% federal subsidy for work-sharing in states that already have work-sharing programs.” New York is on the list of states that have work-sharing programs.

The infrastructure component of the plan would move ahead with shovel-ready projects. It would also include a new workforce development program to help people who lost their positions in other industries gain access to infrastructure jobs.

McGuire’s infrastructure investments will include a focus on affordable housing and on transit projects, such as the Hudson Tunnel, part of the Gateway Program to improve rail traffic along the Northeast Corridor.

The long-delayed rail tunnel project, which has a multibillion-dollar price tag, would create new double-tracked tunnels under the Hudson River between New York’s Penn Station and New Jersey. Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Transportation, said in his confirmation hearing that he wants to “move forward” on the tunnel project.

The infrastructure proposal noted that some of these projects will be financed through private-public partnerships. The senior campaign advisor said McGuire’s connections in the business industry have already helped in that regard, as he has started engaging with investment firms that could assist in financing large-scale infrastructure projects.

This person declined to say which firms McGuire has been in touch with.

McGuire’s plan would rely on federal funds, and it touts the former Citi executive’s relationship with President Joe Biden’s administration. Biden has proposed overall federal spending of $3 trillion for green infrastructure projects and $100 billion for affordable housing.

McGuire has a strong relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris. He actively raised money for her presidential campaign.

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