Queens Tech Council established to foster post-pandemic economic recovery

Amazon ditched plans for its HQ2 campus in Long Island City but it will help grow the tech sector that attracted the company to the borough two years ago. (Courtesy of the governor’s office)

Two years after Amazon abandoned its plan to build an HQ2 campus in Long Island City, the e-commerce giant will join other major companies and startups in growing the borough’s tech sector.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of the Queens Tech Council, which will focus on building an economy that embraces innovation and promotes tech adoption, from existing giants in established industries to startups working on cutting-edge applications.

“With our rich diversity, transportation infrastructure, world-class colleges and universities, and thriving arts and culture scene, Queens is an attractive option for tech, from startups to the world’s most recognizable companies and everything in between,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “As our borough and region look to rebound from the pandemic, we need to be leveraging all the assets that Queens has. The Queens Tech Council will focus on making sure tech companies have everything they need to grow and thrive, and that all Queens businesses have the tech resources required to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Queens Tech Council members include representatives not only from Amazon, but also from Google, Facebook, Pursuit, LIC Partnership, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Cornell Tech, Crown Castle and The Business Incubator Association of New York State.

“The Queens Tech Council provides a tremendous opportunity for us to help ensure the borough benefits fully and equitably from economic growth and digital innovation,” Amazon New York Head of External Affairs Graham Garcia said. “We’re excited to be part of this discussion and thank the Queens Chamber of Commerce for launching this new initiative.”

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption and technological change, leaving broad swathes of the city behind and exposing the true cost of ignoring the city’s structural inequalities.

“Queens is known for our diversity in our residents’ backgrounds, cultures, infrastructure and economy and therefore, an ideal location for any tech startup to launch,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce has been a viable asset and partner for the Borough President’s office and countless businesses for Queens, and I am excited to see this work continue through the Queens Tech Council. Queens is the future for tech and economic development, and my office is here to help the Queens Tech Council make that a reality.”

At a moment when people are reimagining what the city can and should be, while ensuring it remains a preeminent global city, the Queens Tech Council is positioned to seize a unique opportunity to build a borough that embraces the possibilities and opportunities of the future, and positions all of its residents to thrive.

“Pursuit is committed to creating economic opportunity. We believe that tech can provide a pathway to the middle class and the American Dream,” Pursuit Founder and CEO Jukay Hsu said. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tech Council will help connect talented individuals, businesses and communities in Queens with the emerging opportunities being created by this rapidly expanding sector.”

The Long Island City Partnership has been committed to growing the tech ecosystem in western Queens for nearly a decade.

“It is essential that Queens remains at the forefront of technological innovations, especially as we rebuild our economy in the wake of the pandemic,” LIC Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin said. “The Queens Tech Council will go a long way in ensuring that tech businesses, whether they are large or small, new to Queens or lifelong residents, will have the tools they need to flourish right here in Queens.”

The council will also help tech businesses flourish on Roosevelt Island, Queens’ closest neighbor.

“Cornell Tech greatly values its proximity to Queens, and over the long term, we have always imagined the startups and spin-out companies from our Roosevelt Island campus finding a home right across the river,” Cornell Tech Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations Jane Swanson said. “As Queens and the whole city work towards recovery from the impact of the pandemic, we as educators and members of the community are looking to continue to produce top-tier talent and products and technologies that can benefit New York.”

The council’s reach will not be limited to western Queens.

“The Queens Tech Council has the potential to lift many people, businesses and even neighborhoods out of this economic crisis,” Greater Jamaica Development Corporation President and CEO Hope Knight said. “Downtown Jamaica — a mass-transit hub that’s home to York College, a diverse business district and a vibrant residential community — is proud to be part of this vital initiative.”