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Mayor of "Wall Street West" Braces for Credit Crunch

The credit crunch and the Wall Street crisis are hitting smaller cities across the country, but none is as close to the action as Jersey City, N.J.

Dubbed "Wall Street West" due to its close proximity to the financial epicenter, Jersey City is home to 260 financial firms and 24,000 financial-sector jobs, which make up almost one-third of its workforce.

Despite the city's exposure to the financial industry, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy is remaining cautiously optimistic.

"We still feel we have a lot to offer, but certainly everyone is concerned about what’s happening on Wall Street,” he said.

(Watch the accompanying video for the full interview with Healy...)

Among its 24,000 financial-sector jobs, 1,700 are at Lehman Brothers, 1,500 at Merrill Lynch and 200 at AIG .

“Four weeks ago when this started to unravel, we felt we were in jeopardy of losing a lot, maybe all, of those jobs,” he said. “We haven’t lost any jobs yet. Bank of America came in and bought out Merrill Lynch, Barclay’s of London has stepped into Lehman Brothers and AIG was helped by all of us."

Healy said Jersey City is not currently having cash-flow problems, but he expects to see some in the near future.

“Normally to do capital improvements, fix our parks, fix our buildings, those types of expenditures...(the city will) go out for bonds. Right now we’re hearing that market’s going to dry up...So we and every other government…(are) probably going to have to tone down (our) expectations for capital improvements.”

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