By Claire Trapasso
A new proposal to build a tech incubator in Long Island City could spur job creation and boost the borough's budding tech community, project supporters said.
The Anable Basin Tech Incubator would provide shared work space for entrepreneurs and start-up companies and also offer event space and continuing education classes, sources familiar with the project said.
The Coalition for Queens and the packaging company Plaxall recently submitted a project proposal to the local Regional Economic Development Council. Ten councils were created across the state last year to spur job and business growth.
The project is expected to compete with thousands of other proposals for state funding. Awards are to be announced this fall.
"Our goal is to turn western Queens into a tech hub for New York City," said Plaxall President Andrew Kirby. "It could help to attract the best and brightest of young innovators to the city to live and work and create exciting new businesses."
He is looking at transforming a one-story Plaxall warehouse at Anable Basin, off Vernon Blvd., into the incubator. It is across the river from the planned Cornell-Technion campus on Roosevelt Island.
Other Queens locations are also under consideration as the project is still very preliminary, sources said.
The incubator is expected to serve several hundred entrepreneurs who would pay to work at communal tables or reserved desks in an effort to create new connections and businesses.
Fax machines and office supplies would be available as well as conference and event space.
Plaxall and the Coalition are also exploring turning an old ferry boat into a floating beer garden, Kirby said. They are also look to host weekend markets on a parking lot nearby.
"We're looking to attract young, tech start-up businesses and digital media," Kirby said. "It's an important part of New York City's economy."
Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said a tech incubator would be a boon for the borough.
"The tech market is an underutilized sector with the greatest potential of jobs and economic development," he said. "It's certainly one of the top growth industries that we have available to us."
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) said he wrote letters to the city in support for the incubator.
"Our economy is centered on entrepreneurism," Crowley said. "We're not a manufacturing base as much as we used to be. Now it's more about innovation and technology advancement."
The city is also keen on new business development. It recently released a request for proposals for a Made in NY Media Center.
It would provide affordable work space for entrepreneurs and start-ups, encourage collaboration and host educational workshops and training. Proposals were due June 15.
Tony Bacigalupo, head of New Work City, a Manhattan co-working space, said incubators appeal to a growing number of freelance workers without fixed offices.
Working side-by-side in a communal space often leads to new ideas and friendships that can turn into businesses, he said.
"In a time when there aren't enough jobs to go around, giving people ways to hire themselves is a really great way to foster healthy and sustainable economic development," Bacigalupo said.