New York tech scene driven by private and public initiatives

Posted by John Mathewson on February 10, 2015

Civic technology, aimed at developing solutions to benefit a community's population, is an area that is attracting widespread interest in recent times. In New York City, a new private initiative is seeking to encourage its development through collaboration between academics, engineers and data scientists, to name a few. The founders of the Personal Democracy Forum, an annual event on the influence of the Internet on politics and advocacy, have recently opened Civic Hall in Manhattan's Flatiron District.

Civic Hall has 18,500 square feet of work, conference and event space. Here, private companies are coming together to develop innovative solutions like air conditioners with low carbon emissions. Public organizations, including the New York Public Library, are collaborating with programming events at the Hall.

Throughout the city, tech companies are growing at an unprecedented pace, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, in fostering IT development with tax breaks, imitating San Francisco's model. Major companies like BuzzFeed and Etsy have million-dollar tax credits, and much smaller companies are feeling the benefits as well.

"Civic technology is attracting widespread interest in recent times."

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, employment in the tech sector is up 40 percent since 2008 in New York City, with the yearly rate at 8.4 percent, compared to 5.2 percent in Silicon Valley. Venture capital investment is up 138 percent in the past year. Digital media, online retail and software developing companies are leading the charge.

In the case of app and other software developers, New York companies are often thriving by gearing their products specifically to city dwellers. By understanding and targeting a specific audience, the city's tech sector is cementing its place as a national leader.