Re “CityViews: New York Can’t Afford to Become Silicon Valley East” (Op-ed, March 12):
Ms. Cleveland’s op-ed on New York’s evolving tech economy warns that our city could soon face problems that have long plagued Silicon Valley, most notably the exclusion of women and people of color from accessing good-paying jobs. Make no mistake: the de Blasio administration is dead-set against having this happen. But we also can’t afford to ignore the economic reality that technology is the gateway to the future. If we don’t adapt and innovate, New York’s best days will be behind us.
That is why we are all in on creating the country’s most dynamic, inclusive tech sector while simultaneously investing in our greatest asset: our people.
Whenever we speak to tech executives looking to establish a New York presence, they cite the city’s diversity as its biggest draw. It is our competitive advantage, making us the anti-Silicon Valley rather than Silicon Valley East.
By leaning into our diversity rather than downplaying it, we’ve seen major players like Google and Facebook doubling down on their New York presence. But our tech sector extends far beyond these companies’ Manhattan offices; it is at the center of every single one of our core industries, from finance to fashion to food distribution. New York tech has also evolved to propel our existing industries forward. Ed-tech companies are shaping how students learn, ad-tech companies are changing how brands share their stories, and health-tech companies are revolutionizing how patients access care.
Our job in city government is to safeguard both what makes New York unique and makes companies want to settle here: more than 200 languages spoken, more foreign-born immigrants than people in Chicago, and more opportunities for people to live their own American Dream.
To do this, we have made it non-negotiable that jobs created in tech are open to everyone, not just those with MBAs or master’s in engineering. Today, 44 percent of tech jobs don’t require a college degree. It is now this administration’s job to connect New Yorkers with these roles, regardless of their background or where in the city they live.
To that end, we have started initiatives like the Tech Talent Pipeline, which recruits New Yorkers across the five boroughs and teaches them in-demand skills. We have committed to doubling the number of CUNY computer science graduates, and are developing a strong pipeline of homegrown talent in emerging fields like cybersecurity. And last August, the city council worked with NYCHA to launch a pilot program that would provide extensive IT training to residents, who would then be placed in the tech workforce.
We know outreach strategies like these work. While there is still much work to be done, gender and ethnic representation at New York tech companies far surpass those in the Bay Area.
We are also making sizable investments in affordable housing, a key strategy in curbing gentrification. Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to build or secure 300,000 affordable homes by 2026 will have a tremendous impact on alleviating the city’s rising cost of rent. To put this figure in context, the entire city of San Francisco has only 387,000 total units. We are essentially building an entire “affordable San Francisco” within our city. New York knows its population projections and is adapting accordingly, rather than San Francisco’s strategy of prioritizing historic preservation over people.
New York will never become a one-industry monoculture. Instead, we will continue to set a new precedent for what an inclusive tech economy can achieve, while lifting more New Yorkers into the middle-class.
James Patchett is the president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation