City moves to transform LoMa into next tech hub

February 18, 2013 09:00AM

Twenty firms, mostly in the technology field, have submitted proposals to open offices in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could transform the cultural makeup of the neighborhood, Crain’s reported.

The city, in an attempt to encourage tech migration to the Sandy-ravaged neighborhood, will announce the 20 finalists who will receive grants from $10,000 to $250,000 to establish a presence there. 

“These companies may gravitate to lower Manhattan over time, which could take years,” a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation told Crain’s. “Or they may choose to locate in areas that are currently more synonymous with a creative economy. We think it is vital to bring these companies to lower Manhattan at this stage, when they are starting up, so that they can grow and attract similar emerging firms in the neighborhood.”

The finalists include e-commerce site Of a Kind, green-tech company ThinkEco, online-invitation company Paperless Post, and STELLA-Service, an analytics firm that helps measure an online retailer’s customer service.

“Startups like to go where there’s a cluster,” Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, told Crain’s. “It’s very communal, and they like to be among people like themselves.”

Almost 500 tech firms already have a downtown presence, Liz Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, told Crain’s. Berger added that this initiative would increase that number and build more of a sense of a tech community.

Across the city, the Bloomberg Administration has been actively courting the tech community. Last week, in his final State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that projects such as Two Trees Management’s Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment would “create the commercial space that Brooklyn’s growing tech community needs.”  [Crain’s]Hiten Samtani