Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff is circling the globe in a bid to lure international businesses to the Big Apple’s COVID recovery — part of a new strategy based on ex-Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s post-9/11 economic recovery effort, The Post has learned.
Adams’ chief Frank Carone and Ed Mermelstein, the city’s Commissioner of International Affairs, both notably were spotted in Israel on Thursday — joining President Biden at a reception in Jerusalem at the home of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to present the country’s medal of honor to Biden.
The pair of aides attended the fete as part of a four-day trip that started July 11 to meet Google executives and woo several food technology companies to come to New York, Carone told The Post.
Before that, Carone and Mermelstein spent four days in Seoul, South Korea at the end of June in talks with major conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai.
“It made sense for us to go, since the mayor is so focused on generating jobs for the city,” Carone told The Post, while also acknowledging he’s making the trips instead of Adams to avoid negative headlines about the mayor leaving the city.
Carone said that “not one penny” of city money was spent on the first trip, with the South Korean government footing the bill for his hotel and airfare. He said he personally paid for his meals.
But for the Israel trip, the city paid for the hotels and flights for Carone, Mermelstein and three others: Adams senior advisor Joel Eisdorfer, senior advisor to public safety Tim Pearson, who was also a member of Adams’ transition team and senior advisor to Richard Taylor, commanding officer of NYPD community affairs.
Carone told The Post he was inspired to take on the overseas business trips after reading “Greater than Ever: New York’s Big Comeback,” written by Bloomberg’s former deputy mayor for economic development Dan Doctoroff, which details the Big Apple’s recovery after the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“His belief that part of his responsibility was to sell New York and not just let New York live on its laurels,” Carone said, adding that city leaders can’t take the Big Apple’s allure for granted.
“‘Hey, we’re New York, therefore, you’ll come to us or maybe if you don’t like it we don’t need you know,’” he mimicked. “No. We want people to come to New York to live, to work, to invest, to vacation, to enjoy, to love, and that’s not going to happen on its own,” said Carone.
Doctoroff retired after stepping down as CEO from tech company SideWalk Labs, but has since been tapped by Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to co-chair a “New” New York panel aimed at studying ways to restore the state’s economy and lower its unemployment rate – which is still nearly double the national average.
“We have to innovate. The world changes, technology changes and the cities that are most successful are the ones that stay on the edge and take advantage of opportunities and that’s going to be very important,” Doctoroff told The Post.
He compared the coronavirus recovery to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“You were physically damaged. You were psychologically shattered. But you know, it was one isolated part of the city,” the former Bloomberg right-hand said.
“What makes this much more complicated is the whole city has been affected by it and it went on for two years rather than the disaster of the tragedy that took place over a very short period of time…It is different because everyone lived through this…They lived through this together to extend over a longer period of time,” he said.
“I would argue it’s a bit harder to rally people,” Doctoroff said of the post-pandemic recovery efforts.
“On the day of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani stood up in front of the world and in front of New Yorkers and said: “We’re gonna rebuild and we’re gonna make this city better. So that kind of statement is hard to make because you weren’t sure that it was over on 9/11, but it had happened. This was more protracted, and it’s still not completely over.”
But Carone is also one of Adams’ most trusted advisors and a key envoy to take his place on these international trips.
The pair have shared a long relationship. Before joining City Hall in January, he was a partner at the Brooklyn law firm Abrams Fensterman and his brother still runs the firm. Carone also served as the well-connected, top lawyer for the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and helped Adams’ political career since his first bid for state Senate in 2006.
“Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, it was long. But if we could do these trips here and there, and actually have some tangible results for the people of the city, I think we should be doing that,” he said.
On the South Korea trip, Carone and Mermelstein met with leaders from Samsung, Hyundai and Upbit — a cryptocurrency trading platform.
“We talked about all the things that we’re doing as administration to encourage Samsung to make New York more of a flagship and a greater presence,” he said.
“They’re looking to expand their footprint into New York,” Carone said, adding that Samsung reps have already scheduled a follow up meeting in the Big Apple from July 22 to the 25th. They also visited the Hyundai Motor Lab — an experiential car theme park — which Carone said he wants to bring to NYC.
“I envisioned bringing a motor studio, Hyundai-type facility somewhere, because they have so many hundreds of 1000s of visitors there learning — young people — learning in like a Disney-type atmosphere.”
They also sat down with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology to pitch a campus in the five boroughs.
Carone previously traveled to Sweden for a World Dyslexia Forum on behalf of Adams.