Unlike in San Francisco, New York tech companies are the city’s underdogs. Even as NYC’s dominant industries – media, fashion, finance – will always probably rule, one thing the city’s young tech scene has going for it is a friend in a high place.
That would be Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City’s entrepreneur-in-residence. The billionaire mayor’s three terms have included some controversial decisions – his nanny state soda ban, the massive West Side Development plan that flopped, and the fact that he changed the rules, which he had initially backed, to allow him to run for that third term. But one area that leaves little room for criticism is his relentless support of the City’s tech companies. He and his digital team, including Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot, have been critical in the development of programs like the CornellNYC tech campus on Roosevelt Island, the expansion of free fiber-speed broadband build-outs for businesses, and providing high-speed broadband for 300,000 low-income individuals through the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.
Today, Mayor Bloomberg and New York Tech Meetup, the city’s best-organized tech group with 28,000 members, have announced an initiative to further cement the city government’s strong relationship with New York tech.
We Are Made in NY features a similar list – not of people, of companies – and a lot more utility beyond that. The goal is to make government services easier to navigate and put to practical use. This grew out of a common refrain heard from the startup community, namely that they weren’t aware of the services available to them, and that they could use a more powerful digital tool to learn about them.
The website aggregates information on tech-related resources offered by the City of New York from across various city agencies, offering information on free tech classes, tech-focused schools, funding for startups, the competition for for a free fiber build-out, support for immigrant entrepreneurs and funding for training your employees.
An especially useful function is a job search in correlation with a digital jobs map of startups. “The biggest request we get is about hiring,” Haot says. “Tech companies are growing and looking for more people and talent, and that’s one of the core things we are supporting through this campaign.” New York’s job map has now been copied by almost a dozen other cities including San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston, she says.
The Mayor’s office will promote the site with ads in the subway and on buses, as well as through donated digital ad space and resources from Advertising Age, Buzzfeed, Netted, Reddit, Shutterstock, Songza, Shutterstock and WordPress.
The ads will feature images of six prominent NYC startups, chosen for their variety in size, sector, and location: Appnexus, Etsy, Kickstarter, Dosomething.org, Learnvest, and Songza.
This newly launched government-run startup hub is all about making New York’s tech scene more visible to the city’s youth as well as new transplants. Oh, and companies can submit their own video profiles.
It’s likely that mayoral support for New York tech won’t fade once Bloomberg leaves office at the end of this year. Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer has already begun courting the support of tech companies with his Start-Up City report, an in-depth list of proposals for improving the city for startups. You can be sure other candidates will follow suit.