Schumer Delivers New York’s High-Tech Message in Internet Week Keynote

Sen. Charles Schumer delivering his keynote this morning at Internet Week NY

As mentioned in a previous post, Katherine Oliver, a commissioner from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, mentioned the importance of the city’s tech industry during her opening remarks at Internet Week NY. That message was reiterated by Sen. Charles Schumer, who delivered the first keynote speech, which outlined why he believes New York is best suited to be the nation’s tech hub and how the city will overtake Silicon Valley.

Going way back to the origins of New York City as a manufacturing leader, Sen. Schumer brought his keynote to the present, where the city’s “existing diversification” and the ability to adapt will help it to climb to the top of heap of cities that are leaders in the innovation economy.

He’s proposing the creation of a working group, with help from Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that will realize his 25-year goal to lead in the high-tech area through public-private partnership. A strong and vibrant enhanced high-tech industry here in NYC could open doors for lots of other industries, including PR.

Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s chief digital officer Rachel Sterne (appointed to the newly-created position in January) recently unveiled a “digital road map” that aims to put the city on top in tech by 2014. Sen. Schumer’s plan has set a goal of 2035, and seeks to build on some of the city’s existing assets. For example, the Senator says New York is the second largest recipient of high-tech venture capital in the country, after Silicon Valley. And “by some measures” the New York metro area has more high-tech workers than any other region in the country. He even cited last week’s news that the Brooklyn neighborhood DUMBO is fully Wi-Fi wired and home to the prominent digital company Huge.

“Part of this is that many of the traditional industries in which New York has always been a leader — like financial services, and retail, and business services — are more and more becoming high-tech industries as well,” he said.

Besides the public-private partnerships, Sen. Schumer emphasized the need to grow in areas like biotech, the need to invest time, money, and effort in building education in the sciences, and reforming immigration policy so that students who come here to study science and related topics don’t take their skills elsewhere.

But, more than anything at this point, Sen. Schumer said we have to get the word out that New York is the place to be if you want a high-tech career.

“While that is slowly changing, we have to accelerate the pace of that change, and make sure the best and brightest know of the job opportunities that await them in this sector in New York,” he said. “That’s something we in the public sector can do. In the same way we use our tourist agency to make sure people around the country and around the world know about New York as a tourist destination, we must use the resources at the city’s disposal to make sure graduates and professionals in the field know about the high-tech job opportunities in New York.” He called upon everyone to “cast a wide net” during recruitment efforts.

Those already immersed in the digital industry here are optimistic about the direction that New York is taking. Flavie Bagnol, VP of comms at Thrillist and JackThreads said her company is growing and just hired an in-house recruiter.

“It’s a good feeling to be a part of it,” said Bagnol, talking about New York’s digital space. “It’s interesting to see where it’s going.”

New York serves as HQ to tons of PR firms and is a major hub for the entire industry. So the opportunity for firms to expand their client rosters or service offerings to include more tech work here would be a positive.

From a PR perspective, what would you suggest to Sen. Schumer and others who want to grow the industry here? And how else can they get the word out about the depth of the existing industry? I was definitely surprised to hear some of those stats. The comments section and @PRNewser is open.