What to Watch For At the Unveiling of an ‘Equitable’ Queens Tech Zone Plan

By David Brand @D4V1DBR4ND

Where once sat warehouses, now rise WeWorks.

The Long Island City/Sunnyside region has undergone an astounding transformation over the past decade, morphing from a manufacturing hub to high-powered tech center as startups and innovators set up shop. The industry has helped drive New York City’s flourishing tech sector, which, according to one study, accounts for roughly 541,000 jobs and more than $124.7 billion in annual output.

Borough President Melinda Katz and a team of organizations want to capture that economic output by making Western Queens the permanent hub of the city’s “innovation economy.”

Tonight at 5:30, Katz and consulting firm HR&A advisors will unveil the Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan at Long Island City WeWork, itself a symbol of the new economy. The plan, entitled “Live, Work, Create: A Roadmap for Equitable Growth of the Western Queens Tech Ecosystem” will outline strategies for expanding the tech sector.

The plan was funded by the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund and involved input from the Coalition 4 Queens, a nonprofit representing tech companies and workers.

Though the sector remains one of the city’s fastest growing industries and continues to attract young, white-collar professionals, there is a darker side.

The industry contributes to rising property values, displacement and gentrification—what writer Richard Florida calls the New Urban Crisis. Tech, Florida wrote in Wired magazine, helps fuel “the reshaping of America’s metropolitan regions into islands of advantage surrounded by larger swaths of disadvantage.”

Thus, the key term in the Tech Zone Strategic Plan’s title is “Equitable Growth.” Look for Katz and her fellow presenters to describe how the region will both embrace the lucrative industry and attempt to preserve existing communities. 

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