May 12, 2023 By Bill Parry
Dozens of business, government, education and tech leaders gathered at LaGuardia Community College on May 9 for the Spring 2023 Queens Tech Breakfast, which provided networking opportunities from industry leaders.
The event was hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tech Council.
“Whether you’re a fledgling start-up, or an established industry leader, Queens is the perfect home for tech companies,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “We have the diversity, energy, and educational institutions like LaGuardia Community College that are producing the talent that companies need to grow and thrive. We are delighted to be here today with our partners in government, education and business to discuss how to create a stronger tech ecosystem in Queens. Fostering this tech ecosystem is vital to our borough’s economic future.”
LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams delivered remarks just days after he joined CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez on a tour of Boyce Industries in Long Island City. Since 2018, when an internship program was established between LaGuardia and Boyce, 35 students have served as interns at Boyce, including seven in the current term. Of the 35 interns, 10 have progressed onto full time employment with Boyce and most are still working there providing a blueprint for future endeavors.
“LaGuardia has at least five different business assistance departments making us one of the largest providers of small business and entrepreneurship training in the city. It’s the part of work that reminds me of the second word in our name, the ‘community’ part,” Adams said. “We have an obligation of the highest order to turn around and face Queens and leverage our instructional assets and our physical assets and attributes to really promote economic and workforce development all across the state and we do that under our business department.”
Other speakers, including Councilwoman Julie Won, touched on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to workforce development to affordability. All were bullish on the potential for the tech industry to continue to grow in Queens.
“For me, as a former tech worker, giving our neighbors access to internet and digital services is a necessity, not a luxury. Within my first year in office, every NYCHA resident in the district has access to federal and city programs that give them free high speed internet, cable TV and unlimited call and text,” Won said. “I’ve also provided funding for technology upgrades to our schools, and am actively legislating technology related laws to keep our laws up-to-date in our fast-changing city.”
The Queens Tech Council was launched in February 2021. Council members include representatives from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Pursuit, LIC Partnership, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Crown Castle, JetBlue Ventures, Cornell Tech and The Business Incubator Association of New York State.
“One of the most significant factors that sets NYC apart from other tech hubs is the collaboration we see on a daily basis between tech companies, elected officials, community and neighborhood leaders, and everyday New Yorkers,” said Octavius Moore, director of partnerships for Tech:NYC. “The Queens Tech Council is a great example of how those partnerships can effectively expand to support the most exciting nodes of New York’s tech sector. With an all-borough approach, we can foster a tech ecosystem that continues to grow and benefits all New Yorkers in the process.”
The council focuses on building an economy that embraces innovation and promotes tech adoption. This includes supporting tech companies from existing giants in established industries to startups working doing cutting edge work.
“Start-ups in the tech design, creative, and design industries find boundless opportunities for growth and collaboration within the vibrant ecosystem of Long Island City, New York,” said Assuanta Howard, interim assistant dean of Business Services/Workforce Development and executive director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at LaGuardia. “By leveraging the invaluable resources available at NYDesigns, our on-campus business incubator space and by fostering partnerships with the Queens Chamber and Queens Tech Council, entrepreneurs can incubate their ideas, unleash their creativity, and flourish in this thriving hub of innovation.”
Last fall the Council launched its first two Queens Tech Incubators in the Rockaways and Jamaica, with plans to open further incubators throughout Queens.
“Being involved in the Queens Tech Incubator is one the best things to happen for me and for the growth of my company,” said Kathirvel Kumararaja, president and founder of DevJee Inc. “I appreciate the time and work that the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tech Council put into events like this tech breakfast and panel because it gives people working in the technology world space to network, learn, and gain access to resources they may not have been aware of on their own.”
At the conclusion of the event, attendees took a tour of NYDesigns’ 5,000-square-foot. fabrication lab, located on the campus of LaGuardia Community College. NYDesigns was founded in 2006 as an incubator dedicated to the success of design and hardwear tech startups.