Brooklyn Broadside: There’s no stopping ‘Silicon Brooklyn’

May 8, 2012 By Dennis Holt Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Many people were surprised to learn last week that Brooklyn has created a high-tech, green-tech creative industry center within a rough triangle that includes the Brooklyn Navy Yard, DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn.

This area currently supports a $3.13 billion a year industry with about 32,700 jobs, according to a joint statement from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the DUMBO Improvement District, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. There are about 500 creative companies in more than 1.7 million square feet of space. And all this is expected to grow significantly.

This is a “hidden” industry, and no smokestacks or storage tanks exist. Most of these companies have very small staffs, and there are no conventional 9-to-5 time-frames to speak of. These are some of the new workplaces of which President Obama speaks.

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One can walk through DUMBO and not be aware of the hum going on inside the old former factories and warehouses unless there is a fire drill and all of a sudden the streets are swarming with people.

Andrew Kimball, president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, reports that “creative businesses are the fastest growing sector in the Yard, with an increasing concentration of clean-tech/green-tech companies.” But people can’t see them from Flushing Avenue.

Alexandra Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, said that, “The numbers speak for themselves. The ripple effects for Brooklyn are incredible. Startups want to stay and grow here, and new companies want in.”

She noted that 30 percent of the firms in DUMBO say that all of their employees live in Brooklyn. In addition, 77 percent of the firms within the triangle report that more than half of their employees live in the borough.

Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, boasts that “Downtown Brooklyn’s academic presence, infrastructure and real estate opportunities have the potential to attract hundreds more firms and rival Silicon Valley.”

One could conclude that this is almost a stealth industry now, but those days are probably almost over. A total of 61,000 jobs by 2015, almost doubling what exists now, will put this growth front and center.

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