In a clear sign New York City is getting its strength back after the September 11 attack, Bank of America, one of the world's leading financial services companies, announced plans Wednesday to move more than 400 employees who were displaced from the World Trade Center back into the city.
Bank of America has just made a long-term commitment to New York City by signing a 10 year lease for new offices in mid-town Manhattan. Bank of America's Richard DeMartini says New York is still the best place to do business. "After the September 11th tragedy there was never a question of not returning Bank of America's displaced employees back to the city. It's clearly the right thing to do for our clients and for our employees who have worked so hard to keep our operations going and to serve our clients in what have been very difficult circumstances," he said.
And more employees will be joining them. Bank of America, which is a North Carolina*-based company, had planned early last year to headquarter its growing Asset Management Group in New York City. The financial services company currently has about $300 billion under management and includes the largest U.S. private bank in terms of number of clients.
Bank of America is the first major firm to come back after the attack. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says he hopes others will see the wisdom of returning to New York, long established as the financial capital of the world. "There's plenty of space here. The landlords are going out of their way to bring these tenants here," he said. "And this is good news. We hope this is the beginning of a turnaround where the companies that had to leave because of the terrible tragedy are coming back."
Hundreds of small and large firms left New York after September 11, many relocating to temporary offices across the river in New Jersey. However, more than a few companies are said to be weighing the option of a permanent move out of Manhattan, citing a general anxiety among their employees after the terrorist attack.
New York politicians are trying to entice everybody back. They believe it will greatly help in restoring the city's image as the smart place to be. But the reasons also are financial. The loss of so many businesses is hurting the New York economy, which was already slowing considerably in the grip of a nation-wide recession.
*This report originally stated incorrectly that Bank of America is based in California. (corrected 1/15/02)