Delivered Monday, August 5, 2019
It’s great to be here today, but, as you know, all development in Manhattan is controversial!
Thank you to EDC, Council Member Rivera and my friend Andrew Rasiej. I have supported this project since its inception because since my days as Chair of the City Council’s Technology Committee, I have understood what technology can mean for this city and its residents. Technology can re-shape government, it can change the way small businesses operate, and most importantly, it can provide JOBS.
But all of these good things don’t just happen on their own. We need organizations like Civic Hall to bring together the technology community and provide the resources this community needs as to open up the tech community to those who do not have access. We need organizations like Per Scholas, FedCap, and of course CUNY, that effectively train people so that they are able to get jobs in technology.
Technology is the fastest growing private sector industry in New York – there are about 300,000 tech jobs now and that number is growing. In fact a State Comptroller’s report from 2017 detailed a fifty-seven percent increase in tech sector employment between 2010 and 2016. And I can tell you, whether you were for or against the Amazon project in Queens, it was clear then and is clear now that we have a ways to go in creating the pipeline to fill all of the new tech jobs coming on line.
It is also clear that this is a great location to offer this training and entrée into the tech world. Community Board 3 has a poverty rate of about 25.5% according to the Furman Center’s 2017 New York City Neighborhood Data Profile. This is double the national poverty rate. So we have ensured, through negotiation and through the Neighborhood Tech Training Advisory Board that we set up, that there will be scholarship and grant opportunities for local residents.
There is even more to like about this project. More than 10,000 square feet of community event space that will actually be available to the community for free. 33,000 square feet for workforce development. 55,000 square feet of “step-up” space – for use for small tech start-ups looking to expand. A retail space, that through a series of agreed-upon provisions (such as limiting to 5 the number of other establishments the commercial tenants can currently run), will not be for chain stores, but rather will favor local small businesses. And because we support STEAM, rather than just STEM, a cellar that will provide space for arts groups.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this endeavor. It is truly the sort of initiative that we as a city should be supporting – providing space for non-profits, small businesses and the most up to date job training. I can’t wait to visit and to participate in whatever the newest version of hack-a-thons turns out to be!