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How Mayor Bloomberg is Raising NYC's Fashion Quotient

New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg is going to give New York's $55 billion fashion industry an economic shot in the arm. Six initiatives are set to be revealed today at WWD's CEO Summit that will focus on nurturing new talent (both designer and retailer) and cement the city's place as a global fashion capital.

Though not as large as, say, the financial industry in terms of impact on the city's balance sheet, fashion is a player. 165,000 jobs (5.5 percent of NYC's total workforce) generate about $9 billion in wages and $2 billion in tax revenues annually.

The initiatives are designed to promote innovation as well as business-sense and include:

The NYC Fashion Incubator: Already a work-in-progress, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is offering low-cost design studio space for up to twelve designers. The 10,000-square-foot space on West 38th Street (think heart of the Garment District) will have lease units at below-market rates, starting at $1,500 per month. The CFDA will also provide educational support and access to the essential resources. The (relatively) inexpensive lease rate is a plus, but the true value is the mentoring, an invaluable asset to emerging business owners. Too bad there's only space for twelve.

Still to come according to the Mayor's office:

Project Pop-up: Tapping the zeitgeist of flash sales, this initiative focuses on retail innovation. This is a competitive deal as well, but comes with a similar prize -- winning concepts get a pile of support including mentoring, marketing, and networking â€" and their very own pop-up store.

New York City Fashion Draft: This weeklong event for students offers information on career choices and interview opportunities. Students also have the chance to win a full-time management-track post at one of the participating companies. Think real world buying, advertising and marketing, merchandising, production, retail, sales, and technology while still in college.

Fashion Campus NYC: Internships, step aside. At seminars led by industry execs, students will find networking opportunities and online information aplenty about living and working in New York City.

New York City Fashion Fellows: 30 candidates in fashion management will receive mentoring and networking opportunities.

Designer as Entrepreneur: If designers can take a breather from their drawing and inspiration boards, they'll get schooled in the basics of financial management, e-commerce, etc. at dedicated workshops.

What's remarkable is that while Mayor Bloomberg says he's making a serious investment in the fashion business, City Hall isn't footing a huge bill to make it happen. The initiatives grew out of FashionNYC2020, a year-long examination of the challenges facing the fashion industry was helmed by heavy-hitting volunteers such as designer Diane von Furstenberg, Macy's (M) CEO Terry Lundgren, Kevin Ryan, CEO of Gilt Groupe, and others.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation conducted surveys and interviews and their research was completed in conjunction with Bain & Company who offered to do it for free.

It will be a while before Bloomberg can calculate the ROI on these programs as many of them are launching in 2011. However, this is just the latest wave in Bloomberg's plan for energizing the fashion industry. New York Fashion Week grew out of the Bryant Park tents and onto the Lincoln Center campus, no doubt boosting the numbers of attendees from approximately 232,000 attendees annually.

And it will certainly help the whopping number of wholesalers, suppliers, designers and support services. NYC is already home to more than 5,000 active showroomsâ€"more than any other city in the worldâ€"accounting for 58,000 employees and annual sales of $38.7 billion.

Things can only get better.

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