Report: New Tech CityWed, 05/09/2012 - 11:48 — admin
Center for an Urban Future
[Excerpts from report]
"In just a few short years, New York’s tech sector has emerged as an increasingly powerful economic driver for the city. At a time when few other industries were growing in New York, more than a thousand new tech start-ups were formed in the city. This burst of tech company formation has created thou- sands of good paying jobs in the five boroughs, attracted large amounts of capital from outside the city, pumped new life in the city’s entrepreneurial economy, and lured some of the world’s smartest and most innovative people to New York at a time when the most competitive cities are the ones with the best hu- man capital and greatest capacity for innovation."
"By far the most immediate and effective rem- edy for the city’s engineering talent gap would be to streamline the visa process and dramatically raise the federal cap on highly qualified immi- grants.Whether they are just starting out or trying to scale up to meet demand, literally hundreds of tech companies in New York struggle needlessly because of federal visa issues. In our interviews, nearly every executive who was hiring top level staff could describe in excruciating detail the kinds of problems visa issues presented."
"Given the backlog on green cards, entrepreneurial engineers who rely on the sponsorship of their current company something all H1B visas require can’t break away to start their own companies in the U.S. “There’s a hidden cost,” notes Gilt’s Kevin Ryan. 'The guy I employ to come here, there’s a good chance he’s going to want to start another company after being here for a few years.'"
"In fact, an influential study by Anna Lee Saxenian in 1999 found that a quarter of all technology companies that were started between 1980 and 1998 in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants, especially from China and India. Mean- while, newer research by Vivek Wadhwa shows that a whopping 52 percent of Silicon Valley tech companies started between 1995 and 2005 were founded by immigrants. New York was not far behind 'if we were to open a second location outside of New york, it would solely be to hire engineers.' Founder David Karp, for instance, says his company has waited over nine months to get top-level employees cleared for visas, while Collective[i] founder Heidi Messer says the system drove one of her top engineers to a competitor in Canada. 'The process to get him working papers was so onerous,” says Messer, “that one day he just decided he couldn’t deal with the uncertainty.'”