“For New York City, the establishment of top-tier applied sciences and engineering campuses is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically increase our potential for economic growth.” — Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg hits it right on the head. A major technological institute is not an ego play, or a real estate development, it is the primary catalyst for increasing the rate of economic growth and the job creation that comes with it in New York City.

On December 13 of last year, he, Cornell University President David Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Laview signed a 99-year lease that will transfer 12 acres of Roosevelt Island to Cornell Tech — making way for construction of the city’s new applied sciences and engineering campus to begin in January. If it looks like a sweet-heart real estate deal, think again, it’s actually a massive investment in the future of New York City’s technology industry. DC needs to emulate this investment as quickly as possible.

NYC Tech Campus Rendering

 

New York’s economy is more dependent on Wall Street’s financial industry than DC’s is dependent on the federal government. This project is Michael Bloomberg’s long-term initiative to reorient New York’s economy away from Wall Street and towards technology, just as DC is attempting to reorient its economy away from the federal government. New York engaged in a competitive bidding process for the right to build this massive technology enterprise. Cornell/Technion was ultimately selected because of, “the large scale and vision of their proposal.” The campus is schedule to open in 2017.

The District has made some important strides in the last 5-10 years as it relates to its own tech industry, but it still lacks the fundamental asset required for the sector to explode locally — a critical mass of talented software engineers, software developers and other technology professionals. Cornell Tech will create that pipeline.

If you really want a technology industry to flourish, a top flight research institution is a prerequisite. Look at the major technology hot beds around the country and see what they all have in common:

  • Silicon Valley — Stanford
  • Austin, TX  — University of Texas
  • Boston — MIT
  • Research Triangle Park, NC — UNC, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest
  • New York — The new Cornell Tech
  • DC — ????

These institutions produce the human capital and the technology that’s required to spin out large numbers of technology startups. Google was started while its founders were both students at Stanford. There is no path to making DC the largest technology center on the east coast that does not start with a major research institution.

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