In a fireside chat at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a plan to help the city's tech scene outpace Silicon Valley once again.
The bottom line: He needs your help, New York.
De Blasio outlined three pillars to grow "Silicon Alley" and harness its success for the betterment of the city.
Professional development: A stronger, more inclusive tech scene begins with the local talent it acquires, according to the mayor. "We're going to do everything we can, through our public schools, our public universities, and our training programs, to improve that pipeline," de Blasio said.
Those efforts include a just-announced $80 million cash infusion in the CUNY system over the next two years, in order to build out its STEM educational programming. The government already has its hands in fostering entrepreneurship through a $10 million initiative called Tech Talent Pipeline, a collaboration with LinkedIn that recruits and trains New Yorkers to become top-notch job candidates in the tech scene.
Access: Earlier this week, De Blasio commited $70 million to equip all New Yorkers with broadband access by 2025, through a combination of high-speed corridors and public kiosks with gigabit-speed service. He described this information web as the largest and fastest free Wifi municipal network, with over 10,000 hotspots connecting all 8.5 million city residents.
Innovation: In the most humbling moment of the interview, the mayor called upon the tech community to meet him halfway. He admitted that the government hasn't always had the "best track record" of embracing innovation, whether it be in macro policy or in the systems they use to do their day-to-day work.
"We understand we can do something different and better," de Blasio said. "We want to be pushed by this community."
In pursuit of an open dialogue with the leaders of the tech industry, de Blasio appointed Minerva Tantoco as the city's first CTO last fall. Its Tech Talent Pipeline program keeps in constant communication with tech workers responsible for hiring, in order to grasp what are the desired skills and how can they improve training programs. He encouraged leaders to speak out, and tell them what they're doing wrong.De Blasio: "Meet us in that process"
These three key areas add up to help the city meet a goal, beyond reinstating New York as the tech capital of the country.
De Blasio's administration aims to install 100,000 high school students in summer jobs, internships, or mentorship programs annually by 2020. In his final moments onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt, he pleaded with the tech industry to help them create those opportunities.
"If you can create a summer job for a young person, we want you to start doing that now, so we can build out that pipeline," de Blasio said. "We beseech you to hire the maximum number of employees who come out of those efforts."
In doing so, 100,000 students would enter the work force with the contacts they need, the skills required of them, and the sense that they belong here.
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