The Big Apple’s reputation as the financial capital of the world is in real jeopardy according to a report in the New York Sun and the Financial Times of London today. Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s and his team was concerned enough that the city’s Economic Development Corporation hired McKinsey & Company to study the reasons for the erosion of business and jobs in the financial sector to London, Hong Kong and other financial centers. Hoteliers from the City (and elesewhere in the country) ought to read the report and urge lawmakers to act upon the recommendations.
The financial sector provides the maximum revenues to the city and Manhattan’s hostelry benefit quite handsomely from the dollars that spill over to its rooms and F&B. A decline in the city’s pre-eminence in the financial field directly affects the industry. Among the recommendations in the report is a suggestion to increase visas for skilled immigrants, otherwise known as H 1B visas. The hotel industry does not employ as many highly skilled workers as others but geographical mobility for chefs and general managers is axiomatic in the industry. Denying visas due to the low cap on H1B visas does prove to be an impediment to large chains who move personnnel regardless of nationality – and it certainly behooves both the industry and the city to draw upon the perspectives and expertise of foreign workers.
While some of the other recommendations are less germane to the hospitality industry its knock-on effect can only be positive – an easing of Sarbanes-Oxley or SOX is something oft heard including in hotel lobbies. Former Attorney General Spitzer remarked that he was against changing it as he did not want a “race to the bottom” but Schumer and Bloomberg clearly have their ears to the ground on this issue. Perhaps, Governor Spitzer, now that he has been elected, will be more amenable to joining hands with the senator and mayor. The industry certainly needs to lend its weight to implementing the recommendations of the Mckinsey report.