BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Mayor Adams on Nov. 1 presided over the opening of Civic Hall at Union Square, a new tech and digital hub (a.k.a. the “Tech Hub”) training New Yorkers for jobs in the city’s tech sector.
The facility, located in Zero Irving — otherwise known as 124 E. 14th St. — aims to “create an inclusive talent pipeline for family-sustaining jobs” in tech.
Adams was joined at the ceremony by Andrew Kimball, the president and C.E.O. of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, who shepherded the project to completion.
Kimball said the goal of Civic Hall is “to build an equitable and more inclusive economy.”
New York City has 350,000 people working in the tech sector, the world’s second-largest tech workforce, he noted.
However, the E.D.C. honcho added that, while nearly 21 percent of the Big Apple’s tech economy is comprised of Black and Hispanic workers, there is still farther to go, in terms of the industry reflecting the city’s true diversity. The goal ultimately is to see the tech center’s trainees go on to become entrepreneurs and business owners.
“Civic Hall,” Kimball said, “will insure that all New Yorkers can receive the resources they need to overcome systematic barriers and achieve their full potential and seize opportunities presented by tech.”
The new building is 270,000 square feet, of which 90,000 is Civic Hall, with the rest of the space set aside for tech companies, plus a large, public food court.
Mayor Adams, in his remarks, said Civic Hall will allow underrepresented New Yorkers to bring their special skills to the fore — and will also attract talent from around the globe.
“This moment is going to compel us to bring our culture, our ways of doing things, the diversity,” he said. “It’s going to allow us to come in a space and cross-pollinate not only ideas how to solve global problems, but how do we once again start to communicate to each other as human beings.
“Because if you have companies and problem solvers and the people look the same, talk the same, walk the same, eat the same food and listen to the same music and do the same things, you are not being a leader of today and of tomorrow,” he noted. “Leaders of today and tomorrow must have the diversity of cultures to solve a problem. You can’t be a MetroCard problem solver in a passport universe.
“I’m excited about Civic Hall, and it falls in line with this working people agenda that we are talking about: everyday New Yorkers having an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy this amazing city,” he said.
Among the local politicians at the ribbon-cutting were Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Councilmember Gale Brewer.
Rivera championed the Tech Hub early on when she first ran for office, especially valuing it for the leg up it could provide to residents of her East Side district to get jobs in a growing industry. However, her support for the massive-sized project led to a rift with Andrew Berman, the head of Village Preservation. The preservationist felt Rivera’s O.K. for an upzoning for the site should be conditioned on the city doing a protective rezoning for the surrounding area, to keep more construction for new tech businesses at bay.
While the Tech Hub project received a zoning variance to allow a bigger building than normal to be constructed, Village Preservation’s proposed protective rezoning for the rest of the neighborhood was never approved.