Bill de Blasio and the Proven Value of Inclusiveness

I first came to know Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio when we worked together in the Dinkins Administration on New York City's hosting of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. That hosting effort -- still the most successful in American political history -- demonstrated that the inclusiveness that is already a hallmark of his emerging Administration can pay enormous dividends for the city.

At the time, Bill was an aide to Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch, the "rumpled genius" who had served as the architect of David Dinkins's historic 1989 election as Mayor. I was CEO of New York '92, the public-private partnership that managed New York City's hosting of the Convention.

One of the core principles of the hosting was that it would reflect what Mayor Dinkins called the city's "gorgeous mosaic." Bill de Blasio worked with me to implement that mandate, and his continuing commitment to it is apparent in his recently assembled transition board, which, in his words, "mirrors the glorious diversity of this city."

The strength of that commitment in the hosting effort was clear throughout our work. Its impact still benefits the city financially more than 20 years later -- through world-renowned promotional events, created for the occasion, that still promote New York City.

The staff of New York '92 was broadly diverse and drawn from all five boroughs. As a result, the official Welcoming Reception for the Convention's 56 delegations -- traditionally held at a single location -- was divided into about 50 events (one for each state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories), which were held in stunning cultural institutions and other notable locations in all five boroughs. Spreading out the receptions ensured that delegates saw more than Manhattan and that small businesses throughout the city benefited from catering and other related services.

But it was the creativity of that staff and the determination to ensure that the Convention benefited the city broadly that led to New York '92's creation of three events that have generated billions of dollars of economic activity for the city over the past two decades. Two of them continue to do so to this day.

Those three events are Restaurant Week (which began by offering a $19.92 prix fixe lunch for Convention delegates and all New Yorkers); Fashion Week (which started as "New York is Fashion" in 1992 and evolved the following year into what is now Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week), and Broadway on Broadway (the free outdoor concert held in Times Square to promote new Broadway seasons). Restaurant Week and Fashion Week now each take place twice a year; Broadway on Broadway ended its extraordinarily successful run after 20 years in 2012.

All three evolved from collaborations between New York '92 and leaders of New York's restaurants, fashion houses and Broadway theaters -- all of whom were determined to ensure that the Convention benefited as many New Yorkers as possible.

When the Democratic National Convention ended in 1992, the City estimated that its hosting of the event had generated more than $470 million in economic impact -- at a cost to the City of less than $21 million in public funds. Since then, those three events have together dwarfed that original estimate.

Today, Fashion Week generates an annual economic impact exceeding $850 million, according to the City. Restaurant Week produces an estimated $12 million in annual revenue for participating restaurants from online reservations alone, according to NYC & Company.

That's an extraordinary economic return, over more than 20 years, on an original investment of $21 million -- and one that no other city or hosting event has ever come close to matching. It evolved -- to Mayor Dinkins's great credit -- from his commitment to inclusiveness, a fervent belief that as many people as possible should benefit from the city's economic good fortune.

Mayor-elect de Blasio has already made that commitment a mainstay of his upcoming Administration. It's a commitment that he knows can reap huge economic returns for the city.

The author is Chief Operating Officer of Goodman Media International, the New York City-based public relations firm.