Teach Me How to Startup

Scott Stringer Questions What New York’s Tech Boom Has Done for the City’s Working Class

Onward towards the future!


Earlier today, Betabeat dropped by WeWork, a coworking space filled with techies diligently laboring away, to watch as Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer debuted a new report titled, “Start-up City: Growing New York City’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for All.” As you can probably tell from the name, it’s an attempt at cracking how the city can broaden access to the city’s booming tech economy and make sure everybody’s boats are still bobbing away on the rising tide.

“I think it’s important that government officials don’t get stuck in the century we’re in, but rather think about the century of the future,” Mr. Stringer told Betabeat.

The report (which we’ve embedded below) identifies 11 areas where the city needs to focus in order to do that. Several are near and dear to the hearts of the city’s techies, from expanding the computer science curriculum in New York City schools and developing a CUNY program focused on the STEM track to creating a municipal fiber network as a means of fixing our citywide connectivity headache.

It’s no secret that the fruits of the tech renaissance are accruing more to the city’s middle and upper classes, while working class New Yorkers struggle for an entry point, without the skills to take part. The report’s executive summary frankly admits this:

Despite its rich history, it is clear that large swaths of today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem lie beyond the reach of millions of working class New Yorkers, contributing to an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent and to rising poverty that now encompasses one in five New Yorkers.

Not clear enough? Here you go:

If New York wants to remain a middle class city, then government must do everything it can to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem and create a pipeline of jobs for working families.

As Mr. Stringer pointed out in his remarks, it’s pretty unfortunate that there’s a war for tech talent raging when there are New Yorkers out of work. And the report makes clear that the city’s government needs to help close that skills gap. He doesn’t expect the report to be a panacea, however: “I’m not suggesting those problems or those issues have to be solved immediately,” he admitted.

“I would be very pleased if this report begins to get people thinking about legislative initiatives, policy initiatives, how do we invest in this infrastructure in this city,” he added.

Here’s the report for the curious:

Start-up City Report

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com