Taking New York tech from "young" to "permanent"

By Erin Griffith , written on December 11, 2012

From The News Desk

What's happening in New York City's tech ecosystem is great -- it's what seemingly every city in the country, hell, the world, would love to see in their city. A thriving tech ecosystem leads to a thriving economy. "Vibrancy," even. Mayor Bloomberg clearly knows that. Today at WeWork Labs, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer made it clear that he knows it too. Stringer, who last month dropped out of the race for New York City Mayor to run instead for City Comptroller, laid out a plan to make New York's booming tech scene sustainable for the long term.

But first, I should be clear. I'm not suggesting the explosion of New York's tech scene is a recent phenomenon, lest a representative of the early dot-com vets send me a swift email demanding correction. Never forget Doubleclick! Neverrrrr!

Of course. Tech in New York has been happening for decades. But what's happened in the last three years, led by Foursquare, The Huffington Post, and Google's New York headquarters, is quite different from the obscure adtech and fintech innovations that have been happening within the walls of giant New York corporations for the last 20 years. No one can deny that. We weren't always beating Boston (according to Startup Genome).

Stringer, wants to extend that lead and take up outgoing Mayor Bloomberg's tech-friendly torch. His proposals, presented in a report called Start-Up City, were created based on interviews with those in the scene and studies of other successful tech ecosystems. They include a more elaborate NYC Digital office that rivals the scope of the office of film and TV to help businesses get through bureaucratic red tape faster. He also proposes a municipal fiber network and competitions among the internet service providers (so, Time Warner and Clear) for access to use of publicly owned assets including the utility and transport infrastructure to build it.

There's also the proposed Mayor's Cabinet for emerging business development, and a crowd-sourced office space finder for young companies (RIP Loosecubes). He's also proposed experiments with micro-zoning, which would designate lower cost housing to attract "young, creative class professionals to the City."

Most important is education: New York startups have major problems attracting talent, particularly with Google funneling all the Wall Street coders straight into their 3,000-person Chelsea office. Stringer proposes offering financial aid to New York engineering students who promise to stay in the city for five years, and a CUNY program that helps high school students learn to code.

It would be easy to, from afar, dismiss Mayor Bloomberg's support of NYC tech as simply cheerleading. But I've yet to meet a techie in the city who believes that. The support of the city's administration has been huge for NYC tech. It's exciting to see that, as Bloomberg's third term comes to a close, others like Stringer are eager to pick up the torch. With Start-Up City, Stringer is proposing more than just window dressing to the city's growing tech ecosystem.

[Image Credit: Taylor Liberato on Flickr]