NEW YORK—Attracting businesses is certainly good for the economy, however attracting talented individuals is proving to be just as lucrative. Cities with high levels of human capital are the fastest growing and most productive according to a Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) report on competitiveness released Thursday.
Maria Doulis, of CBC, gave an overview of the report at an A Better New York (ABNY) breakfast Thursday. She said data has shown as the economy recovers, high-skill and low-skill industries will predominate. Cities around the country will have to cater to the needs of the high-skill industries to ensure they have the workforce for the future.
“Building this workforce and fostering these industries in turn attracts new capital, new talent, new industry, and are critical for strengthening the tax base,” Doulis said.
New York City was given positive marks in Doulis’s report for attracting and retaining highly skilled individuals, due in large part to its multitude of higher education institutions, employment in key industries, and attractive cultural institutions.
New York City is losing ground on net immigration, entrepreneurship, and quality of life, the report said.
New York City has invested heavily in development in recent years, which will result in some of the most beautiful office spaces in the country. Who will fill them is the question. New York City has an advantage over other big cities looking to attract a talented young workforce—people want to live there.
International students looking to make their mark on the world choose the United States over any other country, and 1 in 12 of those students choose the New York City region.
The Big Apple has been able to leverage the “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere,” motto; however, the city is facing increasing competition. As many jobs become more centered on computer technology, and entrepreneurship becomes more attractive, places like California’s Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C, are becoming more enticing.
Changes have recently been made in the public education system in New York City to foster the high tech talent future jobs will likely need. The first Science, Technology, Engineering Math (STEM) school in New York City is in its second year, and many hope more will be on the way.
But David Skorton, president of Cornell University, warned against putting the focus on just one thing. “I hope we don’t get too narrow.” Skorton said learning to use the latest engineering software, but not reading classic literature could be counterproductive. “It is so hard to predict the skills you need to make it,” Skorton said.
Skorton suggested a better dialogue with academia and the private sector.
The CBC report suggested more funding for programs that will develop talent such as the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund, but the city is already cash strapped and faces even further fiscal uncertainty.
Kyle Kimball, executive vice president for the Economic Development Corporation, the city agency who is in charge of the Entrepreneurial Fund, acknowledges the only real solution is lower operational costs, meaning city cuts, or higher revenues, which generally come from taxes.
Skorton said we can’t rely on the city. “The private sector has to step up,” Skorton said. He suggested continuing the newer trend of public-private partnership, the same partnership that helped fund the Cornell tech center that will be built on Randall’s Island.
Andrew Rasiej, chairman of the New York Tech Meetup, agreed the policy suggestion talk was good, but was concerned with the lack of urgency.
“How do we create a sense of urgency so that the city of New York isn’t playing catch up but is actually leading the way?” Rasiej said. “If we don’t move the city very very fast into a competitive state, we are going to be surpassed by international cities that are wiring not only their schools, but delivering fast broadband at extremely low cost to every single citizen without even questioning the logic or the economics of it.”
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