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Queens to launch new Diversity Tech Hub in Long Island City

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Apr. 18, 2024 By Queens Post News Team

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards revealed plans for a new diversity tech and innovation center in Long Island City, slated to open next year. The facility is set to become a hub for 50 emerging startups, fostering innovation and promoting diversity within the technology sector.

Richards has partnered with Pursuit, a Queens-based non-profit, to launch the Queens Diversity Tech Hub, which aims to boost the prospects of minority-owned tech businesses. 

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards at the State of the Borough address. (Photo provided by the office of Queens Borough President)

The tech hub will be located in a 7,000-square-foot space in the Pursuit building at 47-10 Austell Pl. in Long Island City and will cater to up to 50 minority-owned start-ups seeking seed and Series A funding. 

Deputy Borough President Ebony Young said a report from HR&A, commissioned by Google and Tech:NYC, highlighted that “black and brown people sat at the very bottom of the tech ecosystem in New York City.” 

“After reading that, I said, ‘We have a problem. We need to do something about it’,” Young said.

Young said she hopes the hub will be up and running by the start of 2025. Meanwhile, Richards, speaking in his State of the Borough Address last week, confirmed that Randy Wiggins will be appointed as the tech hub’s first executive director. Richards also confirmed that the Borough President’s office is providing an initial $5 million in funding for the center. 

Young said that people from minority backgrounds who have launched a tech start-up will soon be invited to apply for a place at the new hub. 

Young said the initiative is focused on start-ups seeking seed funding and Series A funding because of the difficulties associated with raising capital after pre-seed funding – the process of essentially investing in an idea. 

“At the pre-seed level, investors throw money at businesses,” Young said. “But then at seed and series A, those businesses get dropped and can’t be sustained without finances.

“I guess it (the tech hub) is about connecting businesses with investors or giving them better chances to get in with investors. So we’ll be working with the EDC, Tech:NYC, Techstars, Google, Meta, Microsoft and some parts of Amazon – all of our major movers and shakers here in New York City – to make sure that this works.

“The hyper-focus is really on getting seed money, making sure that businesses have the right tools necessary, and making sure they’re scaling properly.” 

Deputy Borough President Ebony Young at the State of the Borough address. (Photo provided by the office of Queens Borough President)

She added that the tech hub will help experienced entrepreneurs and innovators from minority backgrounds to gain a foothold in the tech industry. 

“The folks that we’re focusing on are not necessarily at the beginning of the tech ecosystem. They’ve been in the game for a minute and they’re doing good work.” 

Richards and Young traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, last September, where they met with influential members of Nigeria’s booming tech industry. 

Young said the trip inspired the planned tech hub, while Richards said he was determined to replicate what he saw in Lagos, dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Africa.” 

“For a week, we met with countless young Black entrepreneurs and app designers. Software developers. Startup CEOs. All empowered through private AND public investment,” Richards said in the State of the Borough Address. 

“In Lagos, the government is deeply intertwined in the tech field — from directly funding start-up companies to building brick-and-mortar tech hubs. Meanwhile, the city has cultivated relationships with major companies like Google and Microsoft, directly connecting them with local entrepreneurs on the ground to help them grow.” 

Richards said the new Tech Hub helps bring economic and technological justice “to those who have long been denied it.” 

The hub will be located in the Pursuit offices in Long Island City. The non-profit aims to create “long-term, systemic change” in the tech industry by providing low-income and underserved adults with training and educational programs. 

Young added that the Borough President’s office has launched a separate desk exchange program, allowing black and brown people in Queens to see Lagos workers doing “major things in tech”. 

She said the Borough President’s office will also launch a similar program with Mexico City for members of the Latinx community in Queens. Mexico City is renowned for its tech innovation among Latin American countries, she said, adding that the program will be launched in the fall. 

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