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Report: Diamond District needs a remake image

New York City's Diamond District should consider improving the appearance of the area's buildings and marketing itself as a tourist destination as part of efforts to safeguard its future, a report released Monday said.

The report also recommended the bustling one-block stretch work with area schools to bring in the next generation of workers and consider creating its own training program.

"With government assistance to ensure the District is accessible and appealing to tourists, these strategies can enhance one of New York City's more iconic industries and ensure not only its continued existence but success for the future," it said.

The report was done by the Pratt Center for Community Development for the 47th Street Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation.

It said the district, which runs on 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, generates more than $24 billion annually in economic impact. There are more than 4,100 companies employing more than 22,000 people. Those businesses range from manufacturing to wholesale and retail selling of diamonds and other jewelry. Some of the stores are located on ground level, with window cases filled with shiny stones to attract passersby, while others have offices where their business is conducted.

The district, located near Rockefeller Center, is a tourist draw and would benefit by doing more with that, the report said. Among the steps it said the BID should consider is creating some kind of streetscape design. Other suggestions included replacing the sidewalks with a material that would shimmer and washing the building facades.

The district should also consider working with the city's tourism agency to do more promotion, the report said. A call to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Finding the next generation of workers is something else the district needs to consider, the report said. It found that companies in the district mostly hired through their own familial or business networks and didn't have many opportunities for internships or apprenticeships, something that would create a problem in ensuring the area's longevity.

"For New York City's diamond and jewelry industry to remain strong and vibrant, it will need an influx of new workers, the next generation of young people to move the industry forward and continue to compete in global markets," the report said.

It recommended BID connect with area schools that have jewelry and diamond training programs, or consider creating its own training program.

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