Internet Week New York opens with Bill de Blasio's call to make NYC 'great tech hub'
A $10 million "tech talent pipeline" is among the many investments City Hall is making to "amplify" the industry's rapid growth in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at the opening of Internet Week New York.
The new initiative to recruit and train technology workers, funded over three years from city, state, federal and private coffers, including those of JP Morgan Chase, will put New York on the path to becoming "undoubtedly one of the great tech hubs of the entire world," de Blasio said.
De Blasio delivered the keynote address at the start of the weeklong conference in the Flatiron district that focuses on technology's impact on business growth in New York City. He drew parallels between the city's history of adaptation and innovation and the technology community's mission of improvement and efficiency.
"More than ever in history, a successful city thrives on the kind of disruption that new technology brings," he said. "This has always been a place that thrives on change and progress."
The tech industry accounts for 291,000 jobs in the city and contributes $30 billion in wages annually to the its economy, city officials said.
The city wants to improve broadband service throughout all five boroughs, providing universal, affordable, high-speed Internet access to close the "digital divide" that holds back some residents, de Blasio said.
The mayor also highlighted what he has said are his administration's efforts to fight economic inequality -- from establishing universal prekindergarten to creating more affordable housing units to issuing municipal IDs to residents regardless of their citizenship status -- as a means of "getting our own house in order" and ready to host a thriving tech industry.
New York City is second to California's Silicon Valley as a hub for the tech industry in the United States, de Blasio said.
The mayor offered a nod to predecessor Michael Bloomberg, saying he "did a fine job setting the table for the growth of this industry."
City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the council governmental operations committee and a software developer, applauded de Blasio in a statement.
"Equality of access to knowledge is a necessity for any free society," Kallos said. "Mayor de Blasio's plan to expand broadband access to the information superhighway is essential for a 21st century city that has ignored equality of this fundamental resource for far too long."