By Naeisha Rose
Along the East River waterfront, a technology boom is expanding in Long Island City and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz wants it to spread in waves to other parts of western Queens.
Last week Katz and technology professionals were in Long Island City at WeWork, an organization that has collaborative, shared office spaces for individuals and companies, where they unveiled a tech plan entitled Live, Work, Create: A Roadmap for Equitable Growth of the Western Queens Tech Ecosystem.
The Western Queens Tech Plan has six initiatives for immediate, intermediate and long-term steps aimed at transforming that area of the borough into a new tech hub by creating more jobs in that field.
“Tech jobs, on average, pay more and are growing at a faster clip than jobs citywide,” Katz said at the June 28 event. “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.”
Katz and the tech experts involved want to leverage the borough’s assets by training and hiring locally in order to help Queens become competitive in the digital age.
The first two initiatives in the Tech Plan focus on supporting the people of western Queens by preparing disadvantaged residents with federal and state-funded tech training programs for those underrepresented in the tech industry, as well as building stronger partnerships with city and tech employers so that those individuals can get job opportunities, according to Katz’s office.
The third and fourth proposals are location-based and will result in identifying 300 acres of strategic space to invest in to attract residents, students and tech firms in a tech ecosystem that would encourage informal connections as well as developing a 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot physical central tech hub with tools, training and affordable office space for the broader community.
The final ideas will focus on programs meant to brand western Queens and market it as a tech ecosystem to attract those types of businesses with targeted campaigns. They will also look to customize regulatory tools and incentives to attract private sector investment and jobs by increasing the state tax credit by 10 percent to 20 percent for qualified firms, as well as tapping into the NYC Entrepreneurial Investment Fund.
“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.
The WeWork office is located at 27-01 Queens Plaza.
“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, a company in Long Island City that trains people in coding. “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.“
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose