Keynote Address to Professional Women in Construction

Gerrard P. Bushell, DASNY President & CEO, Fanny Gong, Asst. VP of Design Mgmt for Manhattanville Development Group at Columbia University, Diana Allegretti, Director of Design and Construction at Cornell Tech
Gerrard P. Bushell, DASNY President & CEO, Fanny Gong, Asst. VP of Design Mgmt for Manhattanville Development Group at Columbia University, Diana Allegretti, Director of Design and Construction at Cornell Tech

I am proud to partner with a group dedicated to promoting, supporting and advancing women in construction. As President and CEO of one of the largest issuers of low-cost, tax-exempt bonds in the nation and one of its biggest public builders, I also take pride in being part of the initiative that is driving New York State towards advancing the women’s agenda. DASNY is New York’s developer. And New York is taking bold steps towards equal opportunity.

The theme of Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State Address was “Realizing the Promise of Progressive Government.” We have been working together for a number of years, and I am pleased to say many of the policies the Governor set in motion take effect this year, including: paid family leave and raising the minimum wage.

Governor Cuomo also announced the “Women Lead Fellowship for Women in Government”, which aims to recruit women to work alongside senior female officials in state government. He’s also requesting the state’s venture capital fund invest at least $20 million dollars to support women-owned businesses.

Clearly, the construction industry can be challenging for women, but this administration has acknowledged that challenge and is committed to increasing access and opportunities for all New Yorkers. Our economy is strongest when everyone is empowered to participate.

I have the fortune to have been selected by Governor Cuomo to be a member of his Statewide Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Advisory Council. The MWBE Council meets to discuss building capacity and cultivating growth.

At DASNY, we built a Resource Acquisition unit. This has enabled us to be a leader in this space, and it allows us to do more capacity building. The Unit ensures MWBE participation is considered through every step of the contracting process.

Governor Cuomo has set a highest in the nation benchmark with a 30 percent MWBE participation rate with all state contracts. Great progress has been made to reach this benchmark, however more work needs to be done.

We recognize that women are generally paid 89 cents on the dollar here in New York State. For women of color that number drops to 66 cents. Education continues to be a critical component to breaking that barrier and we need to make sure education is accessible and affordable to all.

That is why the Governor is enacting sweeping protections against predatory borrowing practices and ensuring colleges provide students with accurate information annually about loans incurred. This builds upon the creation of the Excelsior Scholarship to further the fight against student loan debt, and presents perhaps the greatest impact on our work should there be a sizeable increase in incoming students.

As part of his 2019 Fiscal Year budget, Governor Cuomo is advancing a $1-point-4-billion-dollar five-year capital maintenance plan for CUNY senior colleges. This is in addition to nearly $676 million in maintenance funding provided over the previous five years. The CUNY system is our largest partner. The Executive Budget also continues its support of CUNY's capital programs by re-appropriating approximately $2.5 billion dollars for CUNY senior and community college campuses to provide ongoing support for current and future planned projects.

During the first six months of 2018 we anticipate more than fifty projects, valued in excess of $200 million, will be bid, involving a variety of work types at fifteen CUNY campuses.

We are also continuing to deliver energy efficiency work across CUNY’s campuses. In 2017 we did so to the tune of $380 million dollars as part of a partnership with CUNY and the New York Power Authority. The upgrades spanned 19 campuses and ranged from the addition of high-efficiency lighting to the replacement of outdated heating and cooling equipment.

Over at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, DASNY is providing architectural and engineering services on a $23-million-dollar project to upgrade the infrastructure and exterior of one of its buildings.

And we are just scratching the surface. DASNY has five rehab and renovation Job Order Contracts currently out to bid at Baruch College ranging in size from $200-thousand-dollars to $2-million, as well as a small lab renovation project at Brooklyn College. The Brooklyn contract is scheduled to be put out to bid next month – these are great opportunities for those of you who are term consultants to take advantage of.

A few blocks west of here, there is a project we are working on with our SUNY partners that we are very excited about. Design is nearing completion for the new academic building at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology. The ten-story addition to the existing 1960 Marvin Feldman Center is in the heart of the fashion industry and supports the school’s mission to prepare graduates for fashion careers. The vertical atrium campus will transform the colleges identity and foster collaboration with much needed classroom, student life spaces and exhibition spaces.

And that’s not all. Early last year we introduced the One DASNY initiative, the leveraging of the full complement of our resources to deliver for our clients to maximize the impacts on the New Yorkers they serve. With One DASNY, we are focusing on top-line growth, managing risk and creating efficiencies. One DASNY is expanding use of alternative construction delivery methods, such as construction manager build, and construction manager at risk. These methods apply a qualifications-based selection process to speed project delivery and reduce risks. We also are utilizing design-build at SUNY campuses, and have executed a contract for a $21 million residence hall at The College at Brockport near Rochester. This is a game changer. With design-build we are delivering one of our fastest residence hall projects ever and this will open many more opportunities for us.

Governor Cuomo expressed his support for expanding use of this approach, as mentioned in his Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget proposal.

Today, universities are focused on being extensions of their communities. As economies change, these universities are repositioning themselves to strengthen workforces. In their roles as economic engines, they are advancing scientific, medical, and technological research and supporting local businesses.

Each of us in this room has a valuable role to play in working with these institutions to help them meet their goals.

Within the sector of higher education, we also offer private financing services, and there are two dynamic projects in particular I would like to highlight for you. One you will be hearing a little more about this morning is Columbia University’s Manhattanville Campus. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the campus. The university is financing a significant portion of it with low-cost, tax-exempt bonds issued on its behalf by DASNY. I was delighted to see how Columbia was putting its capital to work.

It was incredible to see how Manhattanville is reviving the University’s and the community’s economic engine. The campus is far from complete, yet the elements that are in place -- the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts – are already reshaping the surrounding neighborhood and the University’s role within it. The 450-thousand square foot Science Center houses the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute which builds on the Columbia’s distinguished history in the study and treatment of the brain. Together they form the hub of an even larger collaborative network of academics stretching across all disciplines—including the arts, economics, law, and medicine.

The Lenfest Center of the Arts contains state-of-the-art performance, screening, and presentation space as well as a vibrant, publicly accessible venue for Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.

As a former student at Columbia, I am very familiar with the University. These are signature projects that were not around when I was an undergrad. These are wonderful additions for the University and the city.

I also enjoyed touring New York University’s new 370 Jay Street campus with President Andrew Hamilton prior its doors opening in the fall. Its 500-thousand square feet spread over 14 floors almost doubled the University’s footprint in Brooklyn and brought scientists, engineers and digital artists together to drive innovation at the heart of the borough’s blooming technology sector. It was an incredible opportunity to see how this University in the west village has cultivated a global footprint for best-in-class learning and discovery.

DASNY issued more than $352 million dollars in low-cost tax-exempt and taxable bonds on NYU’s behalf for this project. NYU utilized a hybrid tax-exempt and taxable financing structure that provided greater efficiency as well as future flexibility. The 370 Jay Street project was part of an $829 million bond issue in June 2016 that made history for being the largest single issuance DASNY has ever conducted on behalf of a private client, as well as for the monumental impact the financed projects will have on the University’s and New York City’s future.

The impact of these projects cannot be understated: they are catalysts in the life sciences industries and we are thrilled to have helped bring them to fruition.

Both were featured spreads in DASNY’s Annual Report in each of the last two years. These are sizeable projects and ones of significance not just to New York City, but to the state. And DASNY’s annual publication is premier real estate to showcase your project. So, which one of you wants to land on our cover? Who has the creativity and the project with the greatest impact on their community?

Communities across the state are built on the backs of productive workforces. Productive workforces are educated ones. These are the people that will help rebuild New York. Governor Cuomo is already focusing on creating opportunities to invest in our state’s infrastructure much of that work is happening right here.

Billions of dollars are being invested as LaGuardia and JFK are being reimagined, as the number of passengers is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades. The work to transform Penn Station into a world class gateway is underway. The Javits Center is growing and getting a new look. DASNY is working with our partners to help advance these projects.

These projects are essential to maintaining the stature, attractiveness and competitiveness of our city and our state.

We are able to deliver projects like these with speed and efficiency based upon the progress we have made through our One DASNY Initiative. We have improved our construction processes and improved collaboration to become a more nimble design and construction service provider. We are lowering costs and expediting project delivery, and improving client satisfaction along the way.

Through One DASNY, we have also streamlined our financing processes to help speed our clients to market, providing greater flexibility in our fees and services.

All of the services we offer, and each of the opportunities you have heard about this morning can be found on our website, DASNY-DOT-ORG. And I am proud to announce for the first time in public, DASNY will soon be launching a new website – at the same address – --DASNY DOT ORG -- but completely revamped and more user-friendly, making it even easier for you to take advantage of R-F-P and bid opportunities from your computer or mobile device.

This is a bold step forward as we streamline our processes and make improvements for our partner and consumers. One of the key things we focused on as we restructured the website was to make assurances for our partners to come and see opportunities for jobs and services. It presents a clean, clear and concise picture of who DASNY is and how we can help you achieve your goals.

DASNY’s bold new website design is just one of many tools in our tool box being made available to our clients to help streamline processes and create efficiencies.

Evolution is at the heart of what we do. Evolution is how we continue to help finance and build. Evolution is what we help create. Together we provide the foundation for inclusive sustainable communities that can compete on the global stage for jobs.

Thank you.