“Silicon Alley” Provides Path To Prosperity For New York City

By Brad Thomas, Contributor

Remembering 9/11. We honor and remember the first responders, all those who served our country and, most significantly, the people who lost their lives as a result of that tragic day. We will never forget.

The leaves of the "Survivor Tree" are changing color, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 at the World Trade Center Memorial in New York. The Callery pear tree, burned and damaged in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was nursed back to life and replanted at the memorial plaza. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Callery pear tree flourishes at Ground Zero in the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. Saved from the rubble and rehabilitated, the tree was returned to its original area in 2010.

Looking at it today, you can see how the scorched and twisted trunk gives way to smooth new branches. The Survivor Tree, a symbol of NYC’s resilience, flourishes in the same soil it nearly died in those 20 years ago.

That now two-decades-old event is still worth remembering today, as is the recovery from it.

I bring this up not just because of the significant anniversary today represents. But also because the city is facing down another crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic might have come in a very different form, but it’s still left people wondering about New York, New York’s future.

The city’s dense population created unique challenges during the pandemic, prompting politicians to respond in some particularly intense ways. Right or wrong, the economic fallout has been especially brutal as a result.

Some economists now have a bleak outlook for the once vibrant metropolis. And I’m not saying they don’t have reasons for that opinion.

However, it may be that they simply can’t see the forest for the trees.

New York City has had its doubters before. Yet it’s always pulled through somehow, someway. So there’s very good reason to think it will do so again.

In this case, focusing on the emerging technology sector may be the key for its future.

Danny Fishman, cofounder of Gaia Real Estate, states, “I believe in the long term, NYC will always reinvent itself. It is now shifting from ‘Wall Street’ old money to tech.”

Let’s explore that possibility…

A New Landscape of Power in Silicon Alley

Did you know that New York City is home to nearly 300,000 tech workers, 44 coding schools, and over 500 tech education programs? Sharon Zukin states in “How New York City Became a Technology Hub”:

“This is not the same tech-led gentrification that has roiled San Francisco or the corporate power that has been exercised against taxes in Seattle. But it is a new landscape of power.”

As it stands now, the city is second only to Silicon Valley as the largest technology ecosystem in the world.

Aptly named “Silicon Alley,” this hub continues to grow. According to joint venture research between Accenture ACN and Tech NYC, 85% of companies there intend to increase their search for new tech talent. This shows in the number of open tech-related jobs in NYC, which exceeds 24,000 according to LinkedIn (LNKD).

It also shows in real estate:

·        Google GOOG (GOOG) plans to eventually have a total of 1.7 million square feet of Manhattan office space there, as first announced in 2018. For 2021 alone, it expects to invest $250 million into the city.  

·        Apple AAPL (AAPL) plans to expand its footprint an additional 220,000 square feet in Penn Plaza.

·        TikTok signed a lease for over 232,000 square feet of real estate in Times Square.

·        Amazon AMZN (AMZN) plans to lease 335,000 square feet of office space in Manhattan, as well as production space in Brooklyn.

·        Facebook (FB FB ) has leased 2.2 million square feet of space in Manhattan.

That’s significant in and of itself. But tech giants aren’t the only players in NYC’s technology ecosystem. Startups play a large role as well, with nearly 9,000 of them based there.

That adds up too.

A Diverse Technology Ecosystem Waiting to Expand

What makes New York City such an ideal environment for the technology sector?

For one thing, it’s already home to many of the nation’s largest companies. And those companies are increasingly in need of technology to keep up with modern demand.

Really, all companies have become “tech companies” today. So why wouldn’t the ones facilitating that existence want to be where they can be the most influential – and profitable?

New York City’s long list of major companies also means there’s a deep pool of venture capital available. In fact, there’s more of that money there than anywhere else in the world.

Promising tech startups can therefore find the venture capital they need more easily. And, as you probably know, tech startups are always looking for more venture capital.

The more, the better.

In addition, top talent is attracted to the Big Apple from everywhere in the world. The result is a competitive workforce that’s educated, skilled, and diverse.

Put simply: Tech companies, both large and small, can have a field day in the Big Apple.

Local Talent: Let’s Hear It for New York!

The (very large, very powerful) tech crowd in New York City itself wants to grow. In fact, they want to grow a lot.

An Accenture and Tech NYC survey found that 62% of NYC tech executives plan to hire new talent over the next year. And they’re not the only ones on the prowl in this area.

Take Lynn McMahon. Office managing director of the New York Metro, she states:

"Now more than ever, companies in New York City must prioritize innovation… and the only way that will be possible is hiring the right tech talent and technological advancements."

The city is determined to maintain and grow its local talent pool especially, developing several initiatives to do so. The Union Square Tech Training Center, for one, will train thousands of people annually at all experience levels. But its special focus will be on transitioning dislocated workers to a post-pandemic career in technology. 

Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp, meanwhile, will provide training in technical and cybersecurity skills – combined with resume assistance, networking opportunities, and an exclusive in-house job fair. And Tech Talent Pipeline offers a free screening process by top NYC CTOs and tech professionals to help tech companies hire new employees from NYC colleges and tech bootcamps.

The city itself is looking to expand its talent pool even further by implementing programs such as Computer Science for All. Precisely as it sounds, the program will be scaled to eventually teach all NYC public school students computer skills grade after grade.

Essentially, there’s a lot of growth that needs to happen. But there’s a lot of growth being implemented or set up even as you read this.

Final Thoughts About NYC and the Rise of Silicon Alley

Dorothy Parker, the founding member of the Algonquin Round Table – a group of New York City writers and artists – put it this way:

“London is satisfied. Paris is resigned. But New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.”

In the past, that “something good” has come in different forms. But today, it could definitely include a technological component.

Again, New York City is uniquely positioned to thrive in accepting and fostering the technology sector. In which case, the real estate investment trusts (REITs) based there should easily benefit from this movement.

Who knows. In the end, it might not just be technology that pulls the Big Apple back from the brink. Perhaps there will be other elements as well.

But regardless, I haven’t given up on this resilient city. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And NYC has a will like few others.

I’m Long Boston Properties (BXP), S.L. Green (SLG), and Alexander’s (ALX).


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.