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Can it be that something so good for the public also demonstrates the best business sense? A look at the NYC Investment Fund.
It has the ring of a certain redheaded Broadway revival. A multibillionaire financier known for his power, connections and investments uses his clout to round up New York's biggest corporate leaders and establish a charity solely for the city's good. Private money - lots of it through a well-stocked investment fund - will work for public problems. New jobs in Harlem. Competitive healthcare in Queens. A happier, economically healthier city. All this to the melody of "We'll Get a New Deal for Christmas" and a $50 million bankroll.
There may not be an orphan involved, but when it comes to charity, this may be the ultimate showstopper. One year ago September, the New York City Investment Fund, a group that would make extra-large loans to ventures that convincingly promised to spur job growth, was launched by the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce. It was founded by Henry Kravis, the famous partner at Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, which has bought and sold such names as Samsonite, Borden and Texaco. His brainchild was to bring - and it was his name and personal invitation that brought - an initial 50 companies and executives together to put up $1 million apiece and use that seemingly mega-powerful fund to make some changes in New York City.
Most of the city's major business leaders anted up, including board members Michael Carpenter of Travelers Group, Richard A. Jalkut formerly of NYNEX, Walter V. Shipley of Chase Manhattan and Allen Questrom of Federated Department Stores. Richard Parsons, president of Time Warner, told the New York Times that Kravis …