‘Start-up City’: How NYC Hopes To Foster Entrepreneurship

Discussions about startups usually include mentions of incubators and accelerators and venture capitalists (oh my!). But New York City itself has also taken note of that entrepreneurial spirit. In 2012, Manhattan Borough President (and current Democratic candidate for New York City comptroller) Scott Stringer compiled a report to assess the challenges startups in the city face. The objective being, of course, to then tackle to those issues.

The report identified the following five problems:

  • Talent shortage
  • Bureaucratic inefficiency
  • Consistent connectivity
  • Inferior infrastructure
  • Unaffordable atmosphere

As the cliché goes, the first step toward solving a problem is to identify it. The report, however, sought to go further and make recommendations with input from “key stakeholders.”

Interestingly, the recommendations go beyond attempts to aid current entrepreneurs and also focus on issues such as education from an early age. As the report says, skills — “from computer technology and coding to financial literacy and the basics of business — will serve all of our students well regardless of their chosen career path.” The argument in favor of more STEM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is hardly a new one, but notable in the context of fostering entrepreneurship in the city.

Infrastructure and resources are also important issues, and the report particularly emphasizes access to internet and improving connectivity — which has been a goal in many cities outside the context of small business. In some senses, this is a more palatable challenge with more plausible short-term implementation than, say, overhauling the school curriculum.

However, a report coming from an elected official is not without its political aims. In this case, immigration takes center stage, with Stringer arguing for passing immigration legislation (the DREAM Act with a pathway to citizenship) and altering the way visas and Green Cards are allotted. Beyond the political scope, these are goals that can be achieved only through the country’s legislative process and differ vastly from other recommendations (such as education).

While any given report may be filled with grand ideas, they are just that: ideas. Which leaves the other crucial part: execution. After all, identifying problems means the objective is to resolve them.

[Photo via Flickr / chrisjroos]