A report issued today by the Pratt Center for Community Development, a research and advocacy arm at Pratt Institute, identified successful strategies implemented at New York City’s Brooklyn Navy Yard to be used as a model for economic development in other U.S. cities. The report highlights “best practices” that transformed the declining 300-acre Navy Yard into one of the country’s fastest-growing green manufacturing centers. In 2011, the Navy Yard had an overall economic impact of $2 billion on the local economy, sustained 10,000 jobs, and had $350 million in earnings, a staggering improvement from ten years ago when the Navy Yard had an estimated economic impact of  $516 million, sustained 2,700 jobs and had approximately $100 million in earnings, an increase of nearly 400 percent.

The report findings are based on a two-year study by the Pratt Center, Brooklyn Navy Yard: An Analysis of its Economic Impact and Opportunities for Replication. Pratt Center surveyed 187 Navy Yard tenants to calculate direct, indirect, and induced impacts. The report documented key elements of the Navy Yard’s success:

·       New York City’s strategy of retaining ownership of the Navy Yard after its purchase from the federal government in 1969;

·       Creating a mission-driven, nonprofit organization to provide on-site leadership and management; and

·       Investing a total of $250 million in city capital funds in the Navy Yard’s infrastructure since 1996.

“Brooklyn Navy Yard's vision to provide critical infrastructure and support to entrepreneurs and small businesses serves as a national model for rebuilding struggling economies in major cities, particularly in the thriving fields of clean-tech and high-tech manufacturing” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Brooklyn Navy Yard’s success is something we should replicate in cities across New York and the country so our great manufacturing communities can carry out their innovative ideas to spark more growth in high-tech manufacturing sectors, jumpstart new businesses and create good-paying jobs right here in America.”

“The Bloomberg Administration has made the modernization and revitalization of the Brooklyn Navy Yard a priority of its five-borough economic development strategy,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “With more than 300 businesses and nearly 6,000 jobs on site, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is now a national model for modern manufacturing in major American cities.”

Executive Director of Pratt Center Adam Friedman, who serves on the board of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Economic Development Corporation said, “Fifteen years ago the Navy Yard was in a state of disrepair. Pratt Center documented its turnaround, so that cities could replicate the successes of this model and rebuild their local economies.”

The study is a tool for cities with underutilized industrial space, such as Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago, to evaluate similar strategies and learn from the Navy Yard’s experience. Additional key elements in the model are: a commitment to sustainable operating and business practices, a clearly defined campus that provides full-time security conveying a sense of permanency and tenant protection, and a diverse range of occupants and spaces.

“Pratt Center’s study has demonstrated that under the right conditions a new and sustainable kind of manufacturing can thrive in dense urban areas. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is proud to become a national model. Support from the public sector, particularly the Bloomberg Administration and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has been critical to leveraging enormous private investment in manufacturing facilities,” said Andrew Kimball, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

Pratt Center’s report calls for new financing tools to support nonprofit industrial developers, similar to the Navy Yard Development Corporation. These approaches include the establishment of an Industrial Development Fund and the reformation of the current Industrial Revenue Bond to help developers acquire land and renovate older industrial buildings to appeal to today’s modern urban manufacturer.

The Pratt Center study was made possible, in part, through funding by the Surdna Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.


The Pratt Center for Community Development works for a more just, equitable, and sustainable city for all New Yorkers by empowering communities to plan for and realize their futures. As part of Pratt Institute, we leverage professional skills—especially planning, architecture, and public policy—to support community-based organizations in their efforts to improve neighborhood quality of life, attack the causes of poverty and inequality, and advance sustainable development.

Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute is a global leader in higher education dedicated to preparing its 4,700 undergraduate and graduate students for successful careers in art, design, architecture, information and library science, and liberal arts and sciences. Located in a cultural hub with an historic campus in Brooklyn and another location in Manhattan, Pratt is a living lab of craft and creativity with an esteemed faculty of accomplished professionals and scholars who challenge their talented students to transform their passion into meaningful expression.