NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- New York may not have the uber-geek appeal of Silicon Valley, but the Big Apple's status as technology hub is booming. Hot on the heels of industry reports highlighting New York's growing tech credentials, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has been banging the high-tech drum this week.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) on Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who heads the administration's efforts to invest in emerging industries, vowed to ensure that "regular New Yorkers" fill jobs in the city's rapidly expanding tech sector.
Underlining the importance of technology to the city's economy, the mayor himself also made a surprise appearance at the event. On May 19, de Blasio will make his first major speech on technology when he delivers the keynote for Internet Week New York.
During her speech, Glen cited a report this week by HR&A Advisors, commissioned by a number of organizations, including ABNY and Google (GOOG). According to the study, the New York city "tech ecosystem" added 45,000 jobs between 2003 and 2013, an increase of 18% and a faster employment growth rate than New York overall and total U.S. employment.
The city's tech ecosystem accounts for 291,000 jobs, or 7% of New York's total workforce of 4.27 million people, it said, with 150,000 of the tech jobs in non-tech industries.
Manhattan remains the city's main technology center, with 224,000 jobs (or 77% of the total tech workforce) based on the island. Although Manhattan's midtown south area is home to many of the city's tech and media firms, New York City Economic Development Corp. initiatives such as Take The HELM (Hire and Expand in Lower Manhattan) and the Relocation and Assistance Program (REAP) are helping spread the city's tech businesses, the report said.
Brooklyn and Queens are each home to around 10% of New York City's tech jobs. The report cites clusters of tech companies emerging across the five boroughs, such as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle encompassing DUMBO, downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is New York's biggest tech hub outside Manhattan.
De Blasio's predecessor Michael Bloomberg was keen to develop the city's tech startup scene. New York is now home to more than 900 tech companies, according to Made in New York, an economic development initiative launched by the Mayor's Office in 2005.
Notable New York tech startups include the location-based social network Foursquare, specialist e-commerce site Etsy and crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. A number of the city's startups have already been snapped up by tech sector heavyweights, such as Zynga's (ZNGA) $210 million purchase of OMGPOP in 2012 and Stratasys' (SSYS) $403 million deal for its 3-D printing rival MakerBot last year.
Another study also pointed to the city's healthy high-tech future this week. On Tuesday, the Partnership for New York City reported that the number of high-tech jobs in the city has grown 21% since 2006, easily outpacing national high-tech job growth of 12%. There are almost as many high-tech jobs in the five boroughs of New York as there are securities jobs on Wall Street, according to the report.
In a blog, the Partnership noted that just 30% of the city's tech jobs are at high-tech firms, with the remainder working in industries such as finance, media, health, retail and fashion and professional services.
"Even while downsizing in the period since the 2008-09 recession, most financial firms have ramped up the hiring of tech workers," it noted. The Partnership added that cloud and "big data" have helped build a local "fintech" industry that has witnessed the birth of more than 30 startups since 2007.
The Partnership for New York and Accenture (ACN) run the FinTech Innovation Lab, an annual program for startups tech startups targeting their wares at the financial sector.
"Big data" refers to the management of vast quantities of unstructured data, or information that is outside the realm of traditional databases. Examples include email messages, PowerPoint presentations, audio, video and social media information.
Cloud continues to be a big driver of tech sector growth. Earlier this year IBM (IBM) announced a $1 billion investment in a New York City-based business unit devoted to its Watson supercomputer. Headquartered at 51 Astor Place in New York's "Silicon Alley" tech hub, the Watson Group will focus on cloud-based innovation and also will help customers cope with the challenges of big data.
The company will make $100 million of its $1 billion investment available for venture investments in startups and businesses building Watson-powered apps.
-- Written by James Rogers in New York.
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