About the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Initiative
The technology and creative sectors are among the fastest growing in the United States and New York City, providing high paying jobs and creating a ripple of economic development in local communities at a time when employment opportunities nationwide are sparse. While there is a significant opportunity for New York City to capture the growth of these industries, an intensive effort is needed to address the challenges firms now face: available real estate in environments attractive to the tech sector and access to a skilled workforce to fill new jobs. Business leaders, tech and creative firms, educational leaders, property owners and many more are all coming together to address these needs through the Brooklyn Tech Triangle initiative, under a partnership of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the DUMBO Improvement District.
Since 2000, the greater Downtown Brooklyn area which includes the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO has added over 9,000 new jobs and over 500 new businesses, many of which are engaged in the information, technology, creative and professional services sectors. Companies such as MakerBot in Downtown Brooklyn, an innovative firm that makes 3D printers for mass consumption, Etsy.com, a pioneer in the online marketplace for handmade goods in DUMBO and Duggal, a leader in solar wind street lamps in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are increasingly becoming the backbone of Brooklyn’s economic base. For the first time in decades, companies that would have previously located their front office in Manhattan are choosing to start and grow in Brooklyn due to its value-oriented and flexible office spaces, unique neighborhoods, and ‘Brooklyn’ lifestyle. While much of the tech growth in this area has happened organically, had it not been for strategic public investments in new facilities, open spaces, cultural venues and streetscapes, much of this private investment would not have come to Brooklyn.
Moving forward, there are many challenges and opportunities in the coming years to foster the continued growth of this vital sector. First, while tech has cropped up in these three discreet areas, they remain disconnected by uninviting streetscapes, underused open spaces, underwhelming pedestrian experiences and a lack of public transit that connects these areas. By linking these places, the tech sector will have more options for expanding its footprint, creating new jobs and benefits. Second, while Downtown Brooklyn has made tremendous strides over the past few years, it continues to have a high office vacancy rate of 10%, while DUMBO and the Navy Yard are literally running out or space. Again, by connecting these areas, it is our belief that the spillover effect would be significant. Third, Downtown Brooklyn has three major public housing developments that historically have had some of the highest unemployment rates in the City. By fostering better connections between the community and this growing sector, there are many opportunities to create training and placement programs for new types of manufacturing and entry-level technology jobs. Last, despite the 57,000 college students and numerous high schools in the area, many technology companies are reporting that there is a shortage of qualified employees to fill the demands of this sector. By linking these educational institutions to this vital sector, we will create a pipeline for new ideas and jobs in Brooklyn.
Goals of the Initiative
Study the economic impact of Brooklyn’s tech and creative sectors today and the potential for growth in the greater Downtown Brooklyn area.
Create a blueprint of specific actionable recommendations that can be implemented by the public and private sectors to support and nurture the growth of these industries within the Tech Triangle neighborhoods and maximize the benefits of these industries for the local workforce. This blueprint will address four specific areas:
- Workforce development.
- Real estate and land use.
- Transportation and infrastructure.
- Placemaking and environs.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle Approach
The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District have established a Tech Triangle Task Force comprised of industry representatives, entrepreneurs, civic organization, the local community board, educational institutions, property owners, utilities and others to inform the direction of the master planning effort.
In the summer of 2012, a masterplanning study will be commissioned by the Tech Triangle initiative based on the direction of the Task Force. Funding is being provided in part through a $100,000 grant from the NYC City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn and local Council Members Steve Levin and Leticia James.
The study will solicit input of the industry, public and private stakeholders through a series of focus groups to be organized by the Tech Triangle partners.
The resulting blueprint will be available in the Fall of 2012, including actionable recommendations for both public and private investment to grow the tech and creative sectors.
The Tech Triangle partners will advocate for the implementation of the blueprint.
Funding and other support for the initiative has come from Empire State Development Corporation, New York City Department of Small Business Services, New York City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.