Building A Brooklyn Tech Triangle
The growth of the Downtown Brooklyn business district owes much to the traditional “FIRE” industries (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate), as well as to the government offices that set up shop here in the 1980s and 1990s. Together, these energetic companies helped transform Downtown Brooklyn into New York City’s third largest business district – and a vibrant destination to live, shop, and experience culture. Today, a recent increase in technology and creative firms throughout Downtown signals a gradual shift from a back-end office district to a thriving, front-end multi-use area.
Companies such as downtown’s MakerBot, an innovative firm that makes 3D printers for mass consumption; Etsy.com, a pioneer in the online marketplace for handmade goods in DUMBO; and Duggal, a leader in solar wind street lamps in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, are increasingly becoming the backbone of Brooklyn’s economic base. For the first time in decades, companies that would have previously located their front office in Manhattan are choosing to start and grow in Brooklyn due to its value-oriented and flexible office spaces, unique neighborhoods, and ‘Brooklyn’ lifestyle.
In fact, a recent economic impact analysis conducted here at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership shows there is great potential to grow in this area that we call the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. Currently, the sector employs 9,628 people and generates $3.1 billion of economic output. In three years, those numbers are expected to double. But in order to ensure this growth is strategic, we must better understand the challenges and opportunities facing us.
While tech has cropped up in three discreet areas in the Tech Triangle, they remain disconnected by uninviting streetscapes, underused open spaces, underwhelming pedestrian experiences, and a lack of public transit that connects them. Furthermore, while Downtown Brooklyn has made tremendous strides over the past few years, it continues to have a high office vacancy rate of 10%, compared to that of DUMBO and the Navy Yard, which are literally running out of space. By better connecting these places, the tech sector will have more options for expanding its footprint, creating new jobs and spillover benefits.