Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer today released “Start-Up City: Growing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for All,” a wide-ranging report on the future of New York City’s thriving entrepreneurial economy and how to make it a pipeline to the middle class. As the tech and entrepreneurial sectors of our City economy continue to grow, Borough President Stringer’s report puts forward core recommendations that would grow the economy from the bottom up, create new jobs and keep New York competitive on the world stage.
While New York is outpacing many other U.S. cities in fostering start-ups, large swaths of today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem lie beyond the reach of millions of working class New Yorkers. Innovative economies—from finance, fashion, and food to marketing and media—could offer a gateway to the middle class for thousands of New Yorkers – but only if the City ensures that workers have the skills needed to fills these jobs.
“New York City is in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution, but the benefits of this revolution are not reaching all New Yorkers” said Stringer at WeWork, a shared workspace in Lower Manhattan for new start-ups. “Employment in tech and other emerging industries can be a ticket to the middle class, but only if New York City makes significant investments in expanding this economy into all five boroughs.”
This year, New York City replaced Boston to become the #2 hub for tech expansion and growth in the country. And yet many New York City employers report that they cannot find workers with the necessary skills to fill these new jobs. To keep pace with these economic strides, Stringer says the City must invest in education, infrastructure, and government efficiency measures that will boost the start-up economy and continue to make New York City competitive in the coming decade.
“It’s astonishing that at a time when our local unemployment rate is hovering around 9.3%, employers are being forced to look outside New York to find qualified candidates,” Stringer said. “We can change this trend through investments in education, infrastructure and the streamlining of government operations, and make the entrepreneurial economy a true pipeline to the middle class.”
To expand access to the jobs of the entrepreneurial economy, and support its future growth, the report issues several recommendations:
- A Curriculum for Tomorrow, Today: As part of ensuring that all New York City public school students have the skills they need to succeed, the Department of Education (DOE) should offer expanded computer science curricula in schools throughout the City. To support this effort, the Mayor should convene a group of entrepreneurs from a variety of fields to inform a curriculum of skills that can be used to prepare all our students for the jobs of tomorrow.
- Create a Municipal Fiber Network: New York should explore the creation of a municipal fiber network by using publicly-owned assets – including transportation and utility infrastructure – as conduits for sparking competition among internet service providers and improving internet connectivity.
- Build Out NYC Digital to Match the Office of Film/TV: NYC Digital/NYC Business Express should be a true one-stop shop for budding businesses, with an emphasis on fully-integrated online applications for permits and licenses, as well as “digital expeditors” who can address the unique needs of emerging tech industry.
- The Empire Engineers Initiative: The City should launch a joint City-State financial aid program for students who major in engineering and promise to work in New York City/State for at least five years after graduation.
- Streamline the Department of Buildings: Relieving the DOB of its responsibility over building inspection and remediation would allow DOB to focus on the business of business—ensuring that entrepreneurs could get permits, plans, and licenses in a reasonable time frame and providing valuable customer service to innovators throughout the five boroughs.
- Launch the Mayor’s Cabinet for Emerging Business Development: To help bridge the gap between a fast-moving private sector and a slow-moving government, New York City should establish a Cabinet for Emerging Business Development made up of local entrepreneurs to advise the Mayor’s office on how City government can provide timely support to local businesspeople.
- Embrace Crowd-Sourcing for Office Space: Medium-sized businesses often have difficulty finding affordable, attractive office space. Too big for incubators, but too small to rent an entire floor of Class A space, these growing businesses are often left in the lurch. NYC Sharespace would act as a bulletin board for start-ups to join forces with each other in the search for viable office space.
- Reform Parking Minimums on Residential Property Near Transit: Requirements that developers devote scarce land to provide parking spaces often reduces the size and number of housing units they can build, making projects less affordable.
- Continue Experimenting with Micro Zoning: The City should consider further modifications to zoning laws and building codes to allow for development of small, affordable apartments that attract young, creative class professionals to the City.
- The STEM Cell: CUNY should develop a dedicated STEM program that enrolls a wide array of high school graduates in science and math. By offering two-year degrees, the STEM Cell will enable graduates from populations that are severely under-represented in the local tech industry to quickly fill the gap in coding and other “middle-skill” jobs.
- Use Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit to Connect Burgeoning Job Corridors: The 21st century economy is emerging throughout the five boroughs, and we need a transit system that reflects where people live and work today, not 100 years ago.
The findings and recommendations of Start-Up City are based on interviews with key New York City stakeholders as well as on successful strategies already at work in other cities and around the world.
“Borough President Stringer’s report correctly identifies many public policy interventions that are needed as the city transitions to a high tech economy,” stated Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “His approach suggests how New York can maintain its status as a global business capital, while ensuring all its residents, workers and entrepreneurs the opportunity to share in the benefits that result.”
“The rise of the creative class is dependent on an economic climate that is accessible to all,” said Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class.” “I commend Manhattan Borough President Stringer on a forward-looking report that considers how urban centers can multiply points of entry to the entrepreneurial economy, making those thriving industries a gateway into the middle class.”
“I am thrilled to see a government official taking a hard look at the challenges facing the urban entrepreneurial economy,” said Scott Gerber, founder and president of the Young Entrepreneur Council. “What is needed most from government are real solutions to improve our infrastructure, invest in entrepreneurship education, and expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an organization comprised of hundreds of America's most successful entrepreneurs, I know firsthand the obstacles that confront startups in New York City – a shortage of skilled workers, bureaucratic red tape, weak internet connectivity, and a lack of affordable housing and office space. Borough President Stringer’s report addresses many of these issues, and makes critical recommendations about how we can expand the entrepreneurial economy to all New Yorkers and create thousands of jobs in the process.”
“WeWork is delighted to host this event that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and recognizes the particular challenges of being an entrepreneur,” said Adam Neumann, founder of WeWork. “At WeWork, our mission is to empower and support these bright and courageous individuals while helping them develop a "we" mentality and proving that working together is a better way to work. We are so pleased that the City of New York shares the same goals.”
“Start-Up City is the most comprehensive report on the impact of technology ever produced by a New York City public official,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Media. “This report clearly articulates that government must invest in education, infrastructure, and connectivity, while streamlining the permitting process for new businesses, in order to help all entrepreneurs succeed and create a globally competitive 21st century New York"
"The technology sector has the potential to be one of New York City's economic pillars. For that to happen, we need to lay down a solid foundation for its continued growth. Two areas that deserve particular attention are cost of living and access to talent. Making sure the best and brightest can earn a reasonable living and providing them with direct lines to technology companies are major steps toward establishing a lasting tech industry in New York," said Brian Wang, entrepreneur and founder of Fitocracy.
"Scott Stringer's report is an important step in recognizing the challenges New York City faces creating an environment for tomorrow's technology jobs," said Ryan Charles, entrepreneur and founder of Consumr.
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