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From the Brooklyn Navy Yard's manufacturing heroics to Regeneron's cutting edge research to the local pharma giants that have rolled out vaccines at warp speed, the NYC Metro region has been at the forefront of the nation's fight against COVID-19.

Now NYC—in its drive to make itself the public health capital of the world—has announced the creation of the Pandemic Response Institute, just one in a series of more than $500 million in local life sciences initiatives that the City will use to drive innovation in NYC, and the region, for years to come.

The life sciences industry is made possible not only by a successful private sector, and the local governments working to retain and expand businesses, but also by its valuable human capital. Let us begin, then, with a brief update on the recently released 2020 Census state populations counts.

NYC Metro 2020 Census
Higher Than Anticipated
2020 Census Count vs. 2020 Census Pop Estimates

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Census Bureau released state-level population totals from the 2020 Census enumeration, the gold standard for population counts. It showed that the population grew in all three states encompassing our region, with New York gaining 823,147 (+4.2%), New Jersey 497,100 (+5.7%), and Connecticut 31, 847 (+0.9%) since the 2010 Census.

This growth was surprising given the departure from trends illustrated by the U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Program (PEP) annual estimates, which were built using 2010 Census counts. The 2020 PEP, which does not incorporate 2020 Census results, showed a downward population trajectory for New York and Connecticut since the middle of the decade, and recent losses in New Jersey.

The discrepancy between the 2020 Census and the 2020 PEP suggests the latter should be used with caution, particularly as we await 2020 Census counts for smaller geographies. The U.S. Census Bureau has released this working paper that describes the difference between the 2020 Census enumeration and the 2020 PEP estimates. You can also see this DCP explainer on how to interpret this difference for NYC.

2018 Intergovernmental Census Convening

As was pointed out in a recent New York Times article on the issue, there are any number of theories as to why the 2020 Census delivered a fastball when most experts had been expecting a curve. A strong consensus has emerged that the likely reason has to do with a pre-Census process known as the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA), whereby local governments are charged with updating the master address file used by the U.S. Census Bureau.

DCP did significant LUCA work in preparation for the 2020 Census, adding a total of over 122,000 addresses to the Bureau's address list, and provided technical support to local governments across the region. DCP is confident that the combined efforts of various LUCA-focused local governments contributed to the unexpectedly high Census enumeration across the region. Hudson County, NJ, to cite just one example, added 29,328 addresses via its LUCA operations.

Industry Spotlight:
NYC Metro Life Sciences Economy
The NYC Metro has the largest life sciences economy in the U.S.
Life sciences jobs and businesses, top 8 U.S. metros, 2019

The NYC Metro1 has 20% more life sciences jobs and 35% more life sciences businesses than the next leading metro, San Francisco-San Jose2. Markets within the NYC Metro, however, are often regarded as separate and our region doesn't collectively get its due share of credit for having the nation's largest life sciences economy. It's therefore important to highlight and strengthen those regional connections that yield the advantages of scale.

The NYC Metro received nearly $7 billion in National Institutes of Health and venture capital funding in 2020.
NYC Metro Public and Private Life Sciences Funding by State, FY 2020

Given that most life sciences innovation starts with research, both private and public funding are critical. Venture capital (VC) funding is an important private ingredient for incubating new life sciences businesses. VC funding in the tri-state area has nearly tripled since 2015, with start-ups receiving more than $3.3 billion in 20203—placing the NYC Metro behind only the Boston and San Francisco-San Jose metros.

When it comes to public funding, our region received $3.6 billion in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants in 2020—more than any other metro. Nearly 70% of that funding was directed to institutions and businesses in NYC, but over 2,100 grants went to 96 different organizations outside of NYC, with an average award size of $500,000.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Funding in the NYC Metro, 2020
The interactive map we created (shown above) allows you to explore the geography and amount of NIH grants awarded to NYC Metro institutions and businesses in 2020.
The NYC Metro has the most residents working in life sciences occupations.
Workers in life sciences occupations by U.S. Metro, 2020

Our region is home to the largest share of many of the nation's technical and specialized life sciences workers. Though the NYC Metro is home to 7% of the U.S. population, it houses 15% of U.S. biochemists and biophysicists and 10% of U.S. chemists. The NYC Metro also employs more than 21,000 clinical laboratory workers, who represent one quarter of the region's technical life sciences workforce.

Workers in life sciences occupations by NYC metro subregion of residence, 2019

Though only accounting for 32% of the region's total population, northern New Jersey is home to 42% of the NYC Metro's life science workers.

There's 25 million square feet of lab space in select areas of the NYC Metro.
NYC metro region lab space by tenure (SF millions)
The NYC Metro's more than 25 million square feet (SF) of lab space places our metro just behind San Francisco-San Jose's 27 million SF and ahead of Boston's 21 million SF. Owing to the legacy of large pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey, nearly half of our region's lab space is owner-occupied, which can constrain market dynamism. Rentable lab space affords life sciences companies flexible spaces to grow. Of the NYC Metro's 13.6 million SF of rentable lab space, the majority (61%) is located in New Jersey, while 15% is located in NYC.
NYC and other governments across the region are committed to growing the region's life sciences economy.
LifeSci NYC announcement photo with Mayor de Blasio

NYC and other governments across the region continue to invest in our region's life sciences economy. In 2016, the City launched LifeSci NYC, a 10-year, $500 million commitment with three main goals:

  • Connect research to industry;
  • Unlock new life sciences space; and
  • Build a diverse pipeline of life sciences talent and support early-stage life sciences companies.
As part of LifeSci NYC, the City recently provided $38 million in infrastructure grants to foster four new biotech centers. Across the Hudson River, The Cove in Jersey City promises 1.4 million SF of lab/tech office space, while the Princeton West Innovation Campus has begun leasing up almost one million SF of space on the former Bristol-Meyers Squibb campus in Hopewell. On the other side of the NYC Metro, the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator, which provides entrepreneurship training, recently welcomed its second cohort of founders, and in New Haven, CT a prominent developer hopes to break ground this summer on the 500,000 SF biotech lab complex known as 101 College Street.

Combined, initiatives and developments like these will continue to drive innovation across our region for years to come.

1. The area defined by the NYC Metro Region can be viewed in greater detail on NYC Metro Region Explorer
2. Life Sciences industries are defined as follows. Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturers: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (NAICS 3254); Electromedical Apparatus Manufacturing (NAICS) 33451; and Surgical Appliance and Supplies Manufacturing (NAICS 339113). Research and Development firms and Testing Laboratories: Physical, Engineering, and Biological Research (NAICS 54171) and Testing Laboratories (54138). Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories (NAICS 6215).
3. 2020 NIH and VC funding represent the fiscal year. VC funding is reported for the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, a slightly different geography than our definition of the NYC Metro.

Have a question or want to get in touch? Email us.

Planning News from the Region

Given the region’s ability to attract and retain life sciences talent, it’s no surprise that when Brooklyn-based Medly, the country’s fastest growing digital pharmacy, went in a search of a partner to help expand its operations, it didn’t need to go far, finding New Haven-based Valisure to be just what the doctor ordered.  
Speaking of cooperation across borders, happy birthday to the Port Authority of NY and NJ, which just celebrated its 100th birthday. In honor of its centennial, the Port Authority had created this site to highlight a year of events, programs, and commemorative initiatives to highlight its mission to deliver world-class infrastructure to the region. 
For that very reason, the Port Authority will appreciate the $17 billion the Biden Infrastructure Plan would allocate to American ports and waterways, especially after this recent World Bank report found the Port of New York and New Jersey to rank just 89th and 127th out of 292 global cargo ports in terms of efficiency. 
Turning to a different set of infrastructure that will serve the region, DCP has launched the Bronx Metro-North Station Area Study, a remote open house where you can comment on the Metro North service planned for four new East Bronx stations which are due to come online in 2025.
All four new stations will be on the New Haven line, with service to the west side of Manhattan thanks to the Penn Access program. The station at Morris Park, we think it worth noting, will serve one of the top life sciences research centers in the country and begin to give shape to what might be called a corridor of opportunity, especially with respect to the life sciences industry.
Two of those new stations, in Hunts Point and Coop City, might be considered waterfront stations given how near they are to the East and Hutchinson rivers. NYC’s recent zoning changes, made to improve resiliency in the city’s coastal and low-lying areas, will help to strengthen the neighborhoods around those new stations, and many others across the city. 
Finally, we repair across the Hudson for this last update: the city of Asbury Park recently made headlines when voters there rejected a set of strict rent control measures. Just as noteworthy, we think, and a little beyond the headline, is the fact that the city still in the end chose to pass fairly robust tenant protection measures. 

What We're Thinking About

After 50 years of generating electricity for the New York City metro region, the final Indian Point nuclear reactor was shut down on April 30, 2021. The decommissioning comes in the backdrop of New York’s ongoing efforts to meet its nation-leading climate targets, and to transition to clean, renewable energy, an “unimaginable” development just two decades ago. 
It was exactly two centuries ago that the first iron steamship went to sea, a harbinger of the fast-approaching end of the age of the sail. But lately, there’s been something of a sea change underway, with a wind-powered freight vessel due to deliver French wine and cheese to NYC this summer, and another ready to trade up and down the Hudson Valley. We wish them both nothing but smooth sailing. 
The Hudson Valley, of course, is home to one of the modern engineering wonders of the world: a water system that takes 570 billion gallons of water stored in 19 reservoirs and three lakes and delivers it across 400 miles of aqueducts to more than 8.5 million thirsty NYC residents. Want to know more? Slake your thirst on this interesting Pattern for Progress podcast with Adam Bosch, Director of Public Affairs at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.

Upcoming Planning Events
Across the Region

Economic Development Begins with Pro-Housing Policy 
Westchester County Association 
Tuesday May 18, 2021 
10:00am (virtual) 

Cities in a Changing World: Culture, Climate, and Design 
Fordham Urban Consortium/AMPS 
June 16-18, 2021 
10:00am (virtual) 

Have an event you want us to be aware of? Let us know by replying to this email.

About Us

The Regional Planning Division was borne out of OneNYC, the Mayor’s long-term plan for the City, which highlighted the need for the city to work with neighbors across borders to promote a sustainable and equitable future for our shared region. You can read more about our team and our work here.

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