A Response to Todd Krizelman’s Open Letter to Mayor de Blasio on the Future of NYC’s Tech Community
The following is a letter from our NYCEDC president, Kyle Kimball, in response to an open letter published May 15 on VentureBeat, from Todd Krizelman to Mayor de Blasio.
It’s great to see a company like yours, which has grown, in small part because of our efforts, reaching out to make sure we continue to pay attention to the tech ecosystem. Your success, and that of others in your NYCEDC NYC Venture Fellows class such as Foursquare, Etsy, SecondMarket, and Gilt Groupe, makes us proud that so many participants have grown their businesses in NYC, adding high-quality jobs and expanding the city’s tech ecosystem.
You and MediaRadar serve as a great role model for the current class of fellows, a group of 28 entrepreneurs representing startups originating in five different countries and representing a cross-section of industries. We’ve paired them with accomplished mentors from places like HUGE, Warby Parker, General Assembly, FirstMark Capital, Lerer Ventures, and many other fast-growing companies who will help their fellow entrepreneurs tackle challenges and navigate this critical stage of business development so they, in turn, can grow their ventures and create jobs like you have. And we would love to have you as one of our mentors for the next round.
I wanted to respond to your open letter to Mayor de Blasio so that you and the entire tech community know that supporting and growing New York City's tech ecosystem continues to be one of our core economic development priorities. It’s not lost on us that the NYC tech ecosystem provides 291,000 jobs and contributes $30 billion in wages annually to the NYC economy. The Mayor has made it clear that he wants these numbers to grow and is not just pushing us to continue with many of our current initiatives, but also to implement new programs that support quality jobs and ensure that all New Yorkers can access the opportunities you and we are working hard to create. To get that done, he has assembled a strong and talented group of individuals throughout City Hall and at the agencies, who are deeply focused on technology and collectively obsessed with creating a stronger entrepreneurial and innovative economy in NYC.
The best way I can say it is this: We are very focused on supporting and growing the tech ecosystem in a way that considers economic resilience as well as transformation. We want to make sure NYC is a place in which tech companies have access to talent, capital, and affordable real estate, while maintaining and growing our position as a global capital of commerce and culture. The best way we can support tech companies (and all NYC businesses for that matter) is by providing access to generations of talented employees who can afford and enjoy living in NYC.
Here are a couple of other things we have going on:
Last month, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and I, along with others in the administration, brought together leaders of the tech community to stress this very point and to that we’ll continue to rely on their input and collaboration as we tackle new initiatives. The conversation was an engaging one, with dynamic insight and ideas from the likes of companies and people who are contributing to the tech ecosystem in significant ways. It should come as no surprise that the top issue was access to talent. We will regularly continue this dialogue and I hope your voice is a part of it.
Tech Talent & Workforce
- We are pushing hard to make sure our four winners of the Applied Sciences competition get up and running. Cornell Tech has begun classes at the Google building in Chelsea. Classes have also started at NYU’s Center for Urban Science in Downtown Brooklyn, which will become a hub for innovation that will reinvent the way cities look at data and further cultivate the growth of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. At Columbia University, the new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering is busy hiring new faculty members. And in just over a year, Carnegie Mellon’s Integrative Media Program will launch in partnership with Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, forging a synergy between the arts and technology that will provide students with hands-on training in creative commercial environments.
- We are preparing more young people for STEM Careers, with an executive budget investment of $20 million in FY 2015—growing to $50 million in the years ahead—to expand programs to help thousands of CUNY community college students earn their STEM degrees faster with additional tuition support, counseling, and even tutoring where needed.
- We continuously support ways to ensure NYC attracts top tier engineering talent through programs such as Tech Talent Draft, which has connected 4,500 students to over 150 NYC tech companies through events at 90 universities across the country and in NYC.
- We are developing the next generation of entrepreneurs through programs such as NYC GenerationTech, which provides mentorship and immersive “bootcamp” training for NYC public high school students, providing them with viable pathways to careers in technology.
- And, we recently launched the 5th iteration of NYC BigApps, a flagship program that has been emulated by cities across the globe. It now represents the most comprehensive platform for data sets with more civic and tech partners than ever before, including Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, Google, Razorfish, Pentagram and others. More than 700 members of the tech community attended our launch events last week to hear Mayor de Blasio’s BigApps challenge to use newly-released NYPD crash data to help eliminate traffic fatalities in New York City as a part of Vision Zero.
- We’re also reinventing our approach to workforce development so that NYC’s government facilities are more nimble and responsive to workforce training and forge real pipelines to our fastest-growing, good-paying sectors, like tech. And, the Mayor has said repeatedly that universal, affordable, high-speed broadband access for all New Yorkers is essential.
- We issued a Request for Proposals for the creation of a robust, citywide network of Internet hotspots that will constitute one of the largest free Wi-Fi networks in the country, building off the success of our Wireless Corridor Challenge, which has brought free public WiFi to commercial districts across the five boroughs.
- We announced the next step in the historic launch of new .nyc domain, making the City of New York the first city in the country with a top-level domain.
- Our broadband initiatives have helped connect dozens of companies with thousands of workers to high-speed internet and we are improving transparency on current infrastructure by providing information on broadband choices in hundreds of buildings.
- We launched Tech for UPK—a diverse and growing group of leaders for New York City's technology, design, and academic community who have committed to provide pro-bono services and assistance to strengthen the implementation and contribute to long-term success of universal Pre-K in NYC.
- We launched the Urban Future Lab in Downtown Brooklyn, which is one of 15 City-sponsored incubators providing 170,000 square feet of affordable space currently supporting 700+ companies who employ over 1,100 jobs. Incubator companies have raised over $160M in private funding and over 150 of them have successfully graduated.
This administration understands that technology has played a vital role in reinventing our city's legacy industries and building new industries, along with creating jobs, diversifying our economy, empowering small businesses, and helping to build pathways to the middle class. I am one of dozens of people in this administration who wake up every morning optimistic about our partnership with the technology community and energized about the opportunity to build, support, grow, and foster all that makes New York City's tech ecosystem so special.
Todd, we appreciate your voice and share your dedication to making NYC a global tech capital. And we look forward to working with you in pursuit of this goal.
Oh, one more thing: You’ll never hear us call it “Silicon Alley.” It’s a whole lot bigger.
President, New York City Economic Development Corporation