By Bill Parry
Geographically, Roosevelt Island is not a part of the borough, but the official opening of the Cornell Tech campus Wednesday is a very big deal for Long Island City, Astoria and other neighborhoods in western Queens. The $700 million phase one of the campus includes three environmentally friendly buildings, which are now home to 30 faculty and almost 300 graduate students conducting ground-breaking research, collaborating extensively with tech-oriented companies and organizations and pursuing their own startups.
“The opening of Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island is a victory for western Queens and New York City that will create jobs and reassert the region as a global leader in tech and innovation,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Just one stop on the F train to western Queens, the proximity of the new campus and tech incubator to western Queens will be beneficial for the people of my district and for the students of Cornell Tech looking to start new businesses. With unmatched resources, including a diverse and talented work force, Long Island City will be a natural place for new tech businesses to call home, develop breakthroughs and create jobs.”
NYC Ferry opened a new route last month that connects the island to Long Island City and Astoria and its bridge connects to Vernon Boulevard. The city estimated in 2011 that the new campus would generate up to 8,000 permanent jobs, hundreds of spin-off companies and more than $23 billion in economic activity over a period of 35 years and when fully constructed over the next few decades, the 12-acre campus will be home to more that 2,000 graduate students and hundreds of faculty and staff.
“As we work to keep New York City as a leader in the 21st century economy, we celebrate the opening of the Cornell Tech campus and the opportunities it opens up for our city and our people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “I am proud to welcome our newest leading educational institution, which will become a tremendous catalyst for our tech sector. We won’t stop here. Through Computer Science for All, the Tech Talent Pipeline and the new Union Square Tech Hub. We are building on the progress Mayor Bloomberg set in motion, and helping more New Yorkers become part of this extraordinary success story.”
Bloomberg began the ambitious project in 2011 with a competition between 17 world-class institutions, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Columbia. The former mayor joined dozens of elected leaders at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
“Cornell Tech is an investment in the future of New York City — a future that belongs to generations to come, and the students here will help build it,” Bloomberg said. “Technological innovation played a central role in New York City becoming a global economic capital, The companies and innovations spawned by Cornell Tech graduates will generate jobs for people across the economic spectrum and help our city compete with tech centers around the world, from Silicon Valley to Seoul.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) was thrilled with the opening of the campus.
“With its proximity to Manhattan and to industrial space in western Queens, Roosevelt Island is the perfect setting for an educational institution, which is why I worked so hard to ensure that it was selected when the city was considering locations for the new applied science campus,” Maloney said. “Cornell Tech will help us diversify our economic base and bring jobs through new startups. A New York school generates New York business and employs New Yorkers. As students are welcomed to the new campus, we know this is just the beginning — and that the future for this institution will be bright.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr