• Small Business Survival: Brooklyn Navy Yard Manufacturers Step Up During the COVID-19 Crisis

    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Businesses at the Brooklyn Navy Yard industrial complex are revitalizing the country’s manufacturing amid the global pandemic.

    David Ehrenberg is the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, which produces roughly $2.35 billion of annual economic output for New York City among more than 400 companies located there across various industries.

    “These are not your old school manufacturers. These are very high-tech, very creative hardware companies,” Ehrenberg told WCBS 880’s Joe Connolly on this week’s WCBS Small Business Spotlight focusing on small business survival, sponsored by BNB Bank.

    Brooklyn Navy Yard businesses employ more than 10,000 workers – many of whom have become essential workers as they produce vital medical equipment needed to treat the coronavirus.

    “Our tenants have really been doing amazing, amazing things, producing everything from medical gowns to face shields, hand sanitizer and a series of other products,” said Ehrenberg, noting that this equipment is being shipped directly to hospitals.

    Bednark Studio, Voodoo Manufacturing and Farmshelf – previous WCBS Small Business Spotlight subjects housed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard – are contributing to the broad COVID-19 fight. Bednark Studio is manufacturing face shields for frontline hospital workers in the City, 3-D-printing company Voodoo Manufacturing makes FDA-approved medical devices, and Farmshelf has been on the cutting edge of the changes in the U.S. food supply that has been accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “A lot of people think that manufacturing is dead in New York and it’s not,” Ehrenberg said, adding that because of lower real estate prices in Brooklyn, growing technology companies that emphasize a high standard of craftsmanship and design can attract top talent the Big Apple has to offer.

    The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. head told Connolly they started communicating with New York City officials and local hospitals about their needs before they contacted business owners to discover that they were ahead of the curve.

    “We had companies who were ordering materials, who have relationships with factories in China, who were buying tens of thousands of gowns be shipped over here and donated,” he said.

    Ehrenberg highlighted the “civic pride” of Brooklyn Navy Yard businesses, saying owners respond to his contacts by asking if there’s more they can do to contribute to the City’s response.

    “The supply chains have just eased up, both, because of the level of demand, but also, you have certain countries (that) are keeping supplies for themselves right now,” he said.

    His tenants have been able to manufacture fully American made products in their factories even before President Donald J. Trump invoked the Korean War era Defense Production Act to mandate U.S. companies to make medical equipment. The President and other government officials, namely New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have revealed they are relying on countries like China, where the coronavirus originated, to import life-saving equipment such as ventilators and N95 masks.

    Listen to the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast above to hear how businesses in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are revolutionizing American manufacturing in the time of dire need.

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