Katz Unveils Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D), along with the Western Queens Tech Task Force, Coalition for Queens and HR&A Advisors last week unveiled the long-anticipated Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan (“Tech Plan”) – entitled Live, Work, Create: A Roadmap for Equitable Growth of the Western Queens Tech Ecosystem.

The plan unveiled during an event held at WeWork Queens Plaza in Long Island City offered a roadmap for equitable job growth within the tech economy of Western Queens along the East River waterfront.

Katz also announced the formation of the Western Queens Tech Council, charged with implementing the Tech Plan, identifying a tech-driven brand for the area and promoting a coordinated strategy for the tech district.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

“Tech jobs, on average, pay more and are growing at a faster clip than jobs citywide,” said Katz.“Western Queens offers a coveted, dynamic mixed-use community where workers can live, ideas can synergize, and businesses can thrive. We commissioned the Tech Plan to facilitate a more equitable growth of this emerging global innovation hub and the City’s next leading tech ecosystem. By leveraging its inherent assets, as well as training locally and hiring locally, we will steer our borough into a more competitive lane of the digital age.”

The Tech Plan identifies strategic opportunities to build upon the area’s burgeoning tech ecosystem and proposes six initiatives to support its future growth as New York City’s future tech hub.

The Tech Plan’s six initiatives are grouped into three focal points and laid out in immediate, intermediate-term and long-term steps aimed at creating equitable access to tech jobs:

People-Focused Initiatives (supporting talent pool growth and development of robust and stable workforce pipeline):

  • Prepare disadvantaged residents to succeed in existing tech training programs. Secure federal and state funding to leverage and expand pre-training programs designed to help close gaps between existing tech training programs and Western Queens residents, with an emphasis on supporting people underrepresented in the area’s tech ecosystem.
  • Strengthen the tech workforce pipeline to better align with job placement opportunities. Build stronger partnerships between City and tech employers to develop a shared understanding of their needs and expand opportunities for on-the-job practical training.

Place-Based Initiatives (fostering the creation of new tech-supportive physical spaces):

  • Define 300 acres of strategic nodes to focus investment. Create a density of activity to attract and link residents, students and tech firms, boosting the Western Queens tech ecosystem and encouraging informal connections.
  • Develop a 40,000 – 60,000 square feet physical hub for tech and innovation open to the entire community. Build a central tech hub to expand access to tools, training and affordable office space and increase connections between the tech ecosystem and the broader community.

Programmatic Initiatives (incentivizing tech growth in Western Queens and on clearly articulating the value of the area):

  • Expand marketing of Western Queens tech opportunities. Create a recognizable brand for Western Queens that leverages its growing tech ecosystem, as well as the many opportunities that the area offers to grow tech businesses, through targeted outreach campaigns for residents and developers.
  • Customize regulatory tools and incentives to attract more tech firms. Create new economic development tools to incentivize private sector investments and job creation, such as increasing the existent 10-20 percent State tax credit for investments into qualified firms, as well tapping into the NYC Entrepreneurial Investment Fund.

“As we enter the phases of implementation, our success in reaching the Tech Plan milestones will hinge upon continued engagement from all stakeholders vested in Western Queens’ growth, including those entrusted on the Tech Council,” said Katz.

The 21 individuals appointed to the Western Queens Tech Council are: Tristan Bel, NYDesigns; Karen Bhatia, NYC Economic Development; Seth Bornstein, Queens Economic Development Corporation; Tracy Capune, Kaufman Astoria Studios; Carol Conslato, ConEd; Samuel Cooper, Mayor’s Office of Chief Technology Officer; Samantha Dolgoff, NYC Department of Transportation; Commissioner Nicole Garcia, NYC Department of Transportation; Thomas J. Grech, Queens Chamber of Commerce; Jukay Hsu, C4Q; Michael Hulbert, Estee Lauder; Saeed Jabbar, Inclusion; Bill Keller, Queens College; Paula C. Kirby, Plaxall; Debbie Markell Kleinert, Queens Community Board 2; Tara Lannen-Stanton, Queens Library; Elizabeth Lusskin, Long Is

The Tech Plan can be viewed in its entirety here.