Internet Week Dispatch: Can New York's Tech Scene Breathe Life into Economy?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Internet Week New York 2013 has been abuzz with how New York City is the new hotspot for technology, but what impact does the burgeoning tech scene have on the New York City economy?

A panel discussion at Internet Week New York convened on Tuesday to discuss what makes the New York technology community different from that of Silicon Valley, which particular neighborhoods are being affected and how tech can impact other industries like retail and real estate. The panel was led by William Floyd of Google, and included Jessica Lawrence, Managing Director of the NY Tech Meetup; Tucker Reed, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership; and Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future.

Lawrence knew that the NYC tech scene was growing exponentially based on attendance to the New York Tech Meetup, which is the biggest in the world. When she joined the group in April 2011, there were about 15,000 members, she said. Now, just two years later, there are over 32,000. "Many more people are moving to the city and visiting from all over the country and the world," she said.

Some of the tech growth is homegrown. "Within NYC, we're seeing people transition from other industries, like coming to tech from finance or publishing," Lawrence said. Floyd has seen a similar trend. "Google's CIO used to be the CTO for Morgan Stanley and talks eloquently about how tech is hiding below the surface in this city," he said. "[New York's economy] has been so driven by industries like financial services, insurance and real estate that no one paid attention to tech before."

Brooklyn-based tech alone is responsible for $3 billion of the GDP, Reed said, and he expects the number to jump to $6 billion within the next few years. New York added 8,400 new tech jobs last year, and, according to the "Made in NY" campaign, there are more than 900 tech companies in New York hiring for over 3,000 jobs. According to Reed, 10,000 jobs are directly supported by the tech industry in Brooklyn, and that number is expected to grow. Floyd added that New York is among the top three cities in the country for fastest job growth in the tech sector.