New York City has long been an economic powerhouse, but that status must constantly be defended and maintained. That’s where the New York City Economic Development Corporation comes in. NYCEDC is a non-profit corporation on a mission to promote economic growth in the city through investment and development. Eric Clement is Senior VP and the Head of the Strategic Investments Group at NYCEDC. The group is hosting an investment conference at Convene’s 117 West 46th Street property on Monday, September 17th. Grab your ticket today and learn more about what’s happening in NYC!
Andrew Littlefield: New York is already such an economic leader—what risks does the city face in the future in maintaining that status?
Eric Clement: I wouldn’t necessarily phrase it that way (as risks), but we’re always working hard to maintain our standing, because the market is always changing. We’re making heavy investments, not only in real estate, but in industries like tech. Proptech investments, investment in life sciences in tech, artificial intelligence, VR/AR, these are all investments that we think are on the forefront of changing the landscape not only in New York but globally.
AL: You mentioned proptech and the real estate landscape, what do you think the commercial real estate world is going to look like in NYC in 20 years?
EC: It will have a greater level of digital integration. I also think there will be an interplay between work and play. Even here at EDC, the office we’re in right now, it’s going to be completely different from where we’re moving next year.
AL: Could you tell me a little bit about that office you’re moving to?
EC: We’re moving to One Liberty Plaza. Right now, we’re in a traditional office environment. We’re moving to a more coworking-type space. We’re going to have a lot of open areas. You see this on the investment side, not only with companies like Convene, but also with Knotel and WeWork, the proliferation of larger coworking spaces. By moving to One Liberty, this office is reflecting that larger trend.
Eric Clements, Senior VP and the Head of the Strategic Investments Group at NYCEDC
AL: As the possibility of remote work opens up for more people, what role do centralized urban areas like New York City play in our future economy?
EC: I think urban areas are increasingly playing a larger role in economies. Demographic trends show a larger proponent of our population in and around urban areas. Although there are more people doing remote work, I think there’s still going to be a very large percentage of the workforce that is travelling into urban areas. I think it’s going to look different than what it looks like now, as opposed to being the traditional office environment—it will be a lot more flexible.
Convene knows this better than I do, but from what I’m seeing, that’s exactly what’s happening. You don’t necessarily have the large floor space that is being taken by very large firms. They want to be more nimble. You have startups that can be 10 or 20 people one month and then all of a sudden grow to 100-plus people in a couple of months.
We do see some remote trends that are taking place, I have to believe that urban centers are still going to be where everything happens.
AL: How about New York specifically? What makes New York an attractive place to be for both these startups you talk about and also larger firms as well?
EC: New York is second behind only Silicon Valley as it relates to the proliferation of startups. What I think startups find attractive about New York are the large numbers of corporations that are here, plus the diversity, talent, the amount of capital available. These makes us truly unique.
AL: What are some of the projects that NYCEDC has been working on as of late to make all this come to fruition?
EC: We just released an RFP a couple weeks ago called “We Venture.” What we’re looking to do there is we’re looking to invest directly into women and minority-owned tech startups, alongside the venture capital community.
We’re also looking to attract life science companies to New York. This is an initiative that’s very important to Mayor de Blasio. There’s two areas of investment here that are important: the real estate and office space, and the companies themselves. Through the Industrial Development Agency, we’re providing tax incentives to developers and real estate owners that are looking to bring life science space online, because right now, we don’t have enough wet lab space for these life science companies to grow.
Then we have to figure out how we’re going to get the companies here. We have various funds where we make investments directly into these life science companies so that we can attract them to New York.
We’re also looking to support the creative industry, so we have another RFP in Sunset Park where we’re looking to attract companies the likes of, let’s say Netflix or other film-type industries.
We also have our Tech Training Center. If we’re thinking about where we’re going to be 20 years from now, what are we going to do for our workforce to make sure that they’re prepared to work in these jobs of the future? The Tech Training Center creates a talent pipeline for companies. That way everyone can share in the prosperity of New York’s future.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share?
EC: We’re bullish on NYC. I think Convene is bullish on NYC. You guys have made big investments here. We’re not going anywhere.
That’s the whole point of the conference too, is that we want the investment community to understand that there are a number of different investments that are taking place within the five boroughs and we want them to understand the breadth of the activity that’s taking place. Whether that’s in the real estate space, or the life science space, or in the tech space. There’s a lot that’s happening in NYC.