Op-Ed: Congress should follow Hochul’s lead on tech and innovation

Virtual reality experience. Technologies of the future.
Businessman in VR glasses and touch screen. From 123rf
Maria Diaz

Congress should follow Governor Hochul’s lead and focus on the importance of technology for rebuilding the workforce and reinvigorating the economy. In her State of the State address, Hochul stressed the importance of technology to “power the jobs of the future.” And she’s right – rather than the tech-bashing narratives coming out of Washington, tech policy should be about ensuring equal access to opportunity, supporting entrepreneurs, bringing good-paying jobs to New York.

Governor Hochul’s policy agenda includes readying New York’s workforce for the jobs of the future by expanding the state’s technology talent pipeline, further investing in bridging the digital divide and bringing broadband to all, and she has an ambitious goal to make the Empire State a global leader in microprocessor manufacturing.

Unfortunately, at the same time, Congress is focused on heavy-handed regulation of the innovation economy. Misguided bills aimed at creating more competition in the digital sector would instead imperil the well-being of small tech firms and local businesses that rely on digital platforms.

Without tools and services like social media, e-commerce platforms, delivery services, and more, it would’ve been nearly impossible for small businesses to adapt during the pandemic. To continue reaching customers, businesses had to be creative in the ways that they marketed products and engaged with clients. This meant taking advantage of various platforms that legislators are now threatening to restrain or even eliminate.

If our elected officials took the time to speak with business owners, they would understand how these tools have become integral to their success. Instead, they are spending their time taking a one-dimensional approach to the issue, crafting bills that address insider conversations happening in Washington, but fail to acknowledge the everyday positive impacts of these tools for working Americans.

Here, in New York City, Comptroller DiNapoli says commercial real estate recovery will take years. But one industry is leading the way in re-investing in commercial office space and the Big Apple at large: the tech industry.

Technology companies are rapidly acquiring office spaces, spurring recovery in the market. And these investments aren’t just a commitment to the city’s skyline – they make up part of a larger effort to re-situate Gotham as a national leader in innovation and technological leadership, ranking just behind Silicon Valley as the top tech ecosystem globally.

Governor Hochul’s proposals will help ensure communities throughout New York share in that success with reliable broadband access and new employment opportunities. She’s also committed to updating government IT infrastructure and resituating New York as a high-tech manufacturing hub.

Scrutiny of the major tech companies is rightly deserved, but instead of threatening to smash the industry with the hammer of antitrust law, lawmakers – from Albany to Washington – should take a more sober approach and recognize how tech is reinvigorating our economy, creating jobs, and providing the tools to keep businesses connected and operating.

New Yorkers are fortunate to have a Governor and a Mayor who understand how crucial technology is to our economy and quality of life.

Maria Diaz is executive director at the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

More from Around New York