By Bill Parry
Coalition for Queens, the driving force behind the growth of Long Island City’s tech scene, drew 300 attendees to its second annual gala last week at MoMA PS1.
The find-raising event, called the C4Q-Tech/Bash, added $100,000 to the group’s coffers, double the amount raised at last year’s inaugural gala.
“I think it was a great event,” founder Jukay Hsu said. “I’m happy that so many of our community could celebrate the advances we’ve made this year.”
The party was held in the Performance Dome in the museum’s courtyard and included a VIP Reception at M. Wells Dinette.
Coalition for Queens is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that seeks to increase economic opportunity and transform the community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The group teaches technology classes, including coding for beginners, in order to help Queens residents gain the skills they need to enter the tech workforce.
“Right now there are tens of thousands of tech jobs unfilled,” Hsu said. “Tech is already the No. 2 industry in the city with 70,000 high-paying jobs that start at $95,000 a year, all available for people with the proper skills set. We want Queens residents to not only get these jobs, but we encourage them to start their own companies right here in Queens.”
Last month, C4Q won a $300,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to expand its tech education programs, improve broadband speeds and fund other programs that help start-ups.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped push the grant, was a featured speaker at the gala.
“Look around you. This is the future of Queens right here in this room,” Schumer said. “Every where you look there are young people from all over the country and the globe and they’re here to grow jobs. They’re helping the borough adapt and transform right before our eyes.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who also supported C4Q’s bid for the grant, attended the tech bash.
“As a longtime supporter of Coalition for Queens, I am proud of the role the organization has played in promoting innovation throughout the borough to help it reach its full potential as a burgeoning tech hub,” he said. “I applaud their commitment to creating economic opportunity through their tech advocacy and I’m proud to join them in their effort to empower New Yorkers with the skills necessary to seize the jobs of tomorrow.”
When the organization started in 2011 it had 150 members. Now it has over 2,000, including Elias Roman who sold his Long Island City-based Songza to Google for nearly $40 million in July.
Digital Natives, an innovative multi-platform marketing agency, moved into Long Island City two years ago.
“We went to one of C4Q’s first Meet-Ups back in 2012,” co-founder Ben Guttman said. “We were very impressed by them. The whole gang has been helpful every step of the way. We need more support like this to grow our community.”
C4Q has found an ally in the Long Island City Partnership, the multi-faceted economic development organization.
“Jukay and his whole team at C4Q are working to build a whole new type of tech community that reflects this unique borough,” President Elizabeth Lusskin said, “bringing the opportunities of tech to the phenomenally diverse Queens population, while letting the tech world take advantage of the many assets that Queens has to offer. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring the infrastructure, workforce and services needed for both new tech companies and our existing diverse business base, and building a community in which we all can thrive.”
Hsu, who is also a new appointee to the board of trustees at Queens Library, said, “As the tech community in LIC continues to grow, we hope our gala will grow as well.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.