Sixth annual LIC Summit explores ways to foster innovation and community building

Photo courtesy of LIC Partnership

LIC Partnership hosted its sixth annual LIC Summit, “LIC: Inspiring Innovation,” at the Museum of the Moving Image on Tuesday.

The event, which was co-hosted by Modern Spaces and Schneps Media, brought together some of Long Island City’s most influential companies and businesses, both new and established, for a series of panels and networking.

“Everybody’s doing their thing in Long Island City, and people don’t always remember how big it is and how much activity there is,” Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the LIC Partnership and executive director of LIC’s BID, told QNS.

“So because we’re so well located, because we’re so dynamic and there’s so much great, different kind of energy here, it’s a great place for all these different and new approaches — whether it’s living, business, etc. — to be both finding customers and also evolving and learning from the experience and the new ways of doing what they do for the future,” Lusskin added.

The summit began with welcoming remarks from Lusskin, Modern Space’s President and CEO Eric Benaim, Rockrose Development Corp’s Senior Vice President Patricia Dunphy, MoMI Deputy Director of Education and Community Engagement Sara Guerrero, and Schneps Media’s CEO and Co-Publisher Joshua Schneps.

There were five panels throughout the morning, starting with the keynote panel.

Panelists ranged from educators, such as LaGuardia Community College’s Interim President and LIC Partnership board member Paul Arcario and Greg Morrisett, Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech; and nonprofits, such as NYC Economic Development Corp’s President and CEO James Patchett and Tech:NYC’s Executive Director Julie Samuels.

The panel explored Long Island City’s current innovative and entrepreneurial resources, like LaGuardia’s programs that are preparing the next generation of tech professionals, as well as what role it should be playing so that the benefits of that innovation reaches the community.

Samuels also talked about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech workforce in a time that she called a “moment of great societal transformation” that only happens once in a century.

“I hope [jobs] grow in places like New York where we are incredibly well equipped to have those hard conversations,” Samuels said. “Technology will continue to grow, and jobs will continue to grow … And we need smart, diverse, interesting people in those jobs so that we can grapple with those kinds of hard questions. We need LaGuardia students and Cornell Tech students at the center.”

“We need that diverse coalition of people dealing with these things because if we got a lack of diversity and a lack of diversity of thought and experience, you’re gonna have a really tough time getting those questions right,” Samuels added.

At the end of the keynote panel, Patchett made a rhetorical question that resonated throughout the day.

“There’s no doubt that NYC is a center for tech and is going to be, the question is: Are we going to be a center for tech or are we going to be a center for tech coma done responsibly,” Patchett said.

Other panels consisted of a discussion on advancing mobility and accessibility in LIC and another on life sciences that emphasized the importance of mixed-use living and reliable transportation in order to generate job opportunities.

Another panel featured four different brands that specialize in co-living and co-working spaces that have made LIC their home or are looking to do so, including Ollie, The Collective, Studio by Tishman Speyer and Spaces, a division of International Workplace Group that works out of the Falchi building.

Representatives from these companies talked about their distinct business models and how they’re steering away from traditional living and working environments in order to offer new forms of living within the community and leasing work spaces.

“I think what it points out is that this is an area that needs to meet the needs of lots of different kinds of people,” Lusskin said about these new ways of looking at residency and work accommodations. “There’s niches that need to be filled in addition to the traditional way of having an office and the traditional way of having a living space.”

One of the final panels of the day, “Fastest Growing Companies — Fastest Growing Neighborhood,” featured representatives from a diverse group of companies in LIC who emphasized the importance of community building.

The panelists included members of Estee Lauder Companies Inc., VaynerMedia, JetBlue, Lady M Confections and RUX Studios.

Nick Miaritis, EVP of VaynerMedia, said that part of the reason their advertising company was attracted to Long Island City was due to the community feeling and the familiarity that comes with the neighborhood.

He added that it’s “on the businesses to do more for the community, not the other way around.”

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