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Where Technology Meets Staffing
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The recent focus by Mayor Michael Bloomberg toward making New York City a leading haven for technological innovation and entrepreneurship points to an exciting and potentially lucrative future for the NYC technology staffing industry. Being a founder of a successful New York City-based technology startup himself, Mayor Bloomberg is finely attuned to what it takes to build a successful technology company in the Big Apple and the ways in which he can help make NYC even more conducive to budding companies. A number of his administration’s recent initiatives speak to the seriousness and dedication with which Mayor Bloomberg has committed city government to aiding in this cause, despite the persisting air of an uncertain economy. The most notable of which is the recent announcement that a Cornell/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology consortium has been selected as the winner of the Applied Sciences NYC initiative to build a new 2 million square feet/11 acre applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island. This historic undertaking, in addition to many other city-led measures, is expected to transform the local economy and set the stage for NYC to solidify its position as a global hotbed for technology advancement in the 21st century.

“Thanks to this outstanding partnership and groundbreaking proposal from Cornell and the Technion, New York City’s goal of becoming the global leader in technological innovation is now within sight,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By adding a new state-of-the-art institution to our landscape, we will educate tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and create the jobs of the future. This partnership has so much promise because we share the same goal: to make New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce.”

–Mayor Michael Bloomberg

                The Cornell/Technion applied science & engineering campus on Roosevelt Island will be quite extensive. Plans include housing to accommodate 2,500 graduate students and 280 faculty members by 2043. This is projected to increase the number of full-time graduate students enrolled in NYC Master’s and Ph.D. programs by approximately 70%. An off-site campus will be opened in 2012 and the first permanent housing will be completed no later than 2017. By 2027 the campus will have been expanded to 1.3 million square feet. The New York City Economic Development Corporation projects that the project will generate $23 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years and $1.4 billion in tax revenue. The campus alone will create some 20,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs. It is also believed that approximately 600 spin-off companies will be created as well, leading to an additional 30,000 permanent jobs. Cornell will also immediately be offering Master and Doctoral degrees in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Science and Engineering.

While the planned Cornell/Technion campus on Roosevelt Island has garnered considerable attention in recent months, there has been a plethora of additional strategic moves made by the City in the past 24 months to increase NYC’s standing as a global center for technology entrepreneurship.

The creation of the Mayor’s Council on Technology and Innovation is just one of such measures. The council will consist of NYC industry leaders who will seek to identify new opportunities for the City to cultivate success in its rapidly growing technology sector. It will also address areas of concern or risk that the technology sector may face, as well as identify joint action items for the City and members of the Council to undertake.

The creation of affordable and accessible incubator space has also increased NYC’s appeal in the eye of the budding tech entrepreneur. Highly lauded incubators like TechStars, are providing necessary resources and allowing for the kind of “shoulder-rubbing” environments so vital to the success of nascent tech companies. Co-working spaces like WeWork Labs, General Assembly, and Dogpatch and incubators like TechStars, Gramercy Labs Collective, and Prehype are experimenting with new ways to cultivate young companies in NYC.

“We are finally seeing the tech industry recruiting away from other industries in NYC, such as lawyering, banking, consulting, etc. And this is exciting because people, who previously were taking the safer financial road, are instead going for their dreams, starting great companies and creating a new ecosystem.” 

–TechStars’ Managing Director David Tisch

An early-stage investment fund, the NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, has been created, with the City setting aside $3 million and an additional $19 million being added by venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, totaling $22 million. An initial investment of $300k was made in MyCityWay, a mobile application provider and winner of the inaugural NYC BigApps competition.

The NYC BigApps competition, 3 years and running, has created an annual outlet for the type of technological innovation and creativity that Mayor Bloomberg hopes to foster. The competition entails the releasing of city information – property tax records, the city-wide tree census, Wi-Fi hotspots, where dog runs are located, etc. – to local tech companies to see what kinds of creative ways they can come up with to utilize the information.

A new initiative designed to ensure start-up companies are able to harness the talent that exists within the City’s immigrant community has been put into place. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, a top immigration law firm in NYC, will lead seminars covering immigration considerations for startups. The seminar will include an overview of the non-immigrant visa categories, requirements for eligibility for both businesses and employees, and employee/beneficiary issues. General Assembly – one of nine City-sponsored small business incubators – will host the seminars, which will begin later this fall.

                What this all means for the local technology staffing industry is quite clear. With a growing amount of venture capital funding flowing into the city – now second only to Silicon Valley – the number of tech startups and top-tier talent setting up shop here is rapidly increasing. New York City can now boast of having replaced Boston as the 2nd-most desired location of choice amongst technology startups, with 86 venture capital deals worth $831 million being closed in NYC vs. 83 investments worth $710 million in Boston-based companies. And with an increasing number of well-funded startups taking root in the local market, there will be more hiring activity and a larger, more sophisticated, and ultimately more talented candidate base to recruit from. With a new state-of-the-art world-class institution on the East River, NYC tech staffing firms will now have the ability to recruit top-notch Computer Science talent right from its doorstep. 

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