2018-07-04 / Features

Queens Unveils Tech Zone Strategic Plan


The Tech Plan identifies strategic opportunities to build upon the area’s burgeoning tech ecosystem and proposes six initiatives to support its future growth as New York City’s future tech hub. The Tech Plan identifies strategic opportunities to build upon the area’s burgeoning tech ecosystem and proposes six initiatives to support its future growth as New York City’s future tech hub. Borough President Melinda Katz, the Western Queens Tech Task Force, Coalition for Queens and HR&A Advisors unveiled the long-anticipated Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan entitled Live, Work, Create: A Roadmap for Equitable Growth of the Western Queens Tech Ecosystem (or “Tech Plan”) during an event held on June 28 at WeWork Queens Plaza in Long Island City. The Tech Plan offers a roadmap for equitable job growth within the tech economy of Western Queens along the East River waterfront. Katz also announced the formation of the Western Queens Tech Council, charged with implementing the Tech Plan, identifying a tech-driven brand for the area and promoting a coordinated strategy for the tech district.

The Tech Plan identifies strategic opportunities to build upon the area’s burgeoning tech ecosystem and proposes six initiatives to support its future growth as New York City’s future tech hub. The creation of the Tech Plan was first initiated by the Western Queens Tech Task Force in 2011 and funded by the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund. The Tech Plan can be viewed in its entirety at www.goo.gl/QPHWGN.

“Tech jobs, on average, pay more and are growing at a faster clip than jobs citywide,” said Borough President Katz. “Western Queens offers a coveted, dynamic mixed-use community where workers can live, ideas can synergize, and businesses can thrive. We commissioned the Tech Plan to facilitate a more equitable growth of this emerging global innovation hub and the City’s next leading tech ecosystem. By leveraging its inherent assets, as well as training locally and hiring locally, we will steer our borough into a more competitive lane of the digital age.”

“Through smart development and innovative planning, Western Queens is on the verge of something great,” said Rossana Rosado, New York Secretary of State. “The New York Department of State is proud to have put forth $150,000 toward these important projects that will embrace the growing tech market and promote economic growth across the borough.”

The Tech Plan’s six initiatives are grouped into three focal points and laid out in immediate, intermediate-term and longterm steps aimed at creating equitable access to tech jobs:

People-Focused Initiatives (supporting talent pool growth and development of robust and stable workforce pipeline):

 Prepare disadvantaged residents to succeed in existing tech training programs. Secure federal and state funding to leverage and expand pre-training programs designed to help close gaps between existing tech training programs and Western Queens residents, with an emphasis on supporting people underrepresented in the area’s tech ecosystem.

 Strengthen the tech workforce pipeline to better align with job placement opportunities. Build stronger partnerships between city and tech employers to develop a shared understanding of their needs and expand opportunities for on-the-job practical training.

Place-Based Initiatives (fostering the creation of new tech-supportive physical spaces):

 Define 300 acres of strategic nodes to focus investment, to attract and link residents, students and tech firms.

 Develop a 40,000 - 60,000 square-feet physical hub for tech and innovation open to the entire community.

Programmatic Initiatives (incentivizing tech growth in Western Queens and on clearly articulating the value of the area):

 Expand marketing of Western Queens tech opportunities.

 Customize regulatory tools and incentives to attract more tech firms.

“Western Queens has shown itself to be right at the center of innovation and potential and the time to harness that power is now,” said Jukay Hsu, CEO of C4Q. “Together with Borough President Katz and the Western Queens Tech task force, we are laying out a blueprint for the future of Western Queens and its residents towards equitable growth, innovation and, most importantly, local jobs. C4Q’s mission is to bring economic opportunity through technology to people from every community and we believe we’re doing just that with this plan being rolled out today.”

“The innovation economy is driving New York City’s future,” said Kate Wittels, Partner of HR&A Advisors. “Western Queens, in the city’s most diverse borough, has all of the ingredients to lead the way by creating an equitable tech ecosystem that generates economic opportunities for everyone in the community.”

“Borough President Katz and I are on the same page: we want Western Queens to be NYC’s tech hub. The potential is extraordinary because we have all the right components,” said Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College. “As one of NYC’s largest providers of tech education, LaGuardia Community College is fully ready to support the training initiatives laid out in the Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan. And with our on-campus incubator space, NYDesigns (www.nydesigns.org), we are prepared to help tech startups launch and grow. With the opportunities already here, and those that will emerge because of the plans laid out today, this work is especially meaningful for students like ours—a majority of whom are low-income, and are hungry to make better lives for themselves and their families.”

“The Borough President’s Western Queen Tech Zone Strategic Plan is timely, visionary and comprehensive,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the LIC Partnership.

“With so much and such varied tech activity—from coding to advanced manufacturing— already underway in LIC, Cornell Tech, now open, is a quick ferry stop away, and LaGuardia Community College so pivotal, we need to act on this strategic plan to capture, support and share these great jobs and creative energy in our unique live/work/innovate community.”

“From helping disadvantaged residents gain access to tech training programs, to aligning people with job placement opportunities, the strategic plan announced by Borough President Katz today dovetails with WeWork’s core mission: to help people create their life’s work and focus on what they are most passionate about,” said Lauren Fritts, Head of East Coast Public Affairs at WeWork. “We look forward to seeing the community of creators and innovators in Western Queens reach new heights as this plan is implemented.”

“As we enter the phases of implementation, our success in reaching the Tech Plan milestones will hinge upon continued engagement from all stakeholders vested in Western Queens’ growth, including those entrusted on the Tech Council,” Katz said.

The 21 individuals appointed to the Western Queens Tech Council are: Tristan Bel, NYDesigns; Karen Bhatia, NYC Economic Development; Seth Bornstein, Queens Economic Development Corporation; Tracy Capune, Kaufman Astoria Studios; Carol Conslato, ConEd; Samuel Cooper, Mayor’s Office of Chief Technology Officer; Samantha Dolgoff, NYC Department of Transportation; Commissioner Nicole Garcia, NYC Department of Transportation; Thomas J. Grech, Queens Chamber of Commerce; Jukay Hsu, C4Q; Michael Hulbert, Estee Lauder; Saeed Jabbar, Inclusion; Bill Keller, Queens College; Paula C. Kirby, Plaxall; Debbie Markell Kleinert, Queens Community Board 2; Tara Lannen-Stanton, Queens Library; Elizabeth Lusskin, Long Island City Partnership; Gail Mellow, LaGuardia Community College; Brian Shoicket, Uncubed; Jane Swanson, Cornell NYC Tech; and John Young, NYC Department of City Planning.

The partners on the Western Queens Tech Task Force who made the Tech Plan possible were: 500 Startups; Association for a Better New York (ABNY); Center for an Urban Future; Citigroup; Coalition for Queens; Con Edison; Cornell Tech; Flux Factory; Google; IBM; Inclusion; JetBlue; Kaufmann Astoria Studios; LaGuardia Community College; Local Data; Long Island City Partnership; Mayor’s Office of Tech and Innovation; Noguchi Museum; NYC Department of Buildings; NYC Department of City Planning; NYC Department of Education; NYC Department of Transportation; NYC Digital; NYC Economic Development Corporation; NYCHA; NYDesigns; NY Tech Meetup; Office of Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer; Ontodia; Open Tech Institute; Partnership for New York City; Plaxall; Queens Chamber of Commerce; Queens College; Queens Community Board 1; Queens Community Board 2; Queens Economic Development Corporation; Queens Public Library System; Queens Vocational & Technical High School; Queensbridge Residents Association; REES Neighborhood Zone (NYCHA); Roosevelt Island; Shapeways; Tech:NYC; TF Cornerstone; Uber; Uncubed; Urban Upbound (ERDA); and Verizon.

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