Job seekers and would-be entrepreneurs in Sunset Park, Red Hook, and other Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods now have a new resource: an integrated employment and entrepreneur development center providing access to good-paying jobs and economic opportunities in the city’s technology, creative and manufacturing sectors.
Known as The Innovation Lab, a 7,700 square-foot space at Industry City that will provide the local community with a wide range of services, including job training and job placement, and technical support for nascent entrepreneurs, opened today.
Since 2013, employment at Industry City has more than doubled, and nearly half of the 4,000 people who work at the property today, live nearby. By 2025, the redevelopment of Industry City – led by Belvedere Capital and Jamestown – is expected to generate a total of 20,000 jobs. The opening of The Innovation Lab follows a successful local hiring initiative that has already placed more than 100 local community members in jobs at the property over the past 30 months.
The Innovation Lab has received initial funding from, and will be run by, a public-private collaboration that includes Industry City, CUNY’s City Tech (New York City College of Technology) and local non-profits: Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC), Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT) and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI). Industry City paid for the build-out and is providing the space rent-free.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz supported the effort by providing funds to some of the non-profit organizations involved in the programming. The Borough President helped fund Lab equipment, including computers and software. Council Member Menchaca provided programmatic support to SBIDC, OBT and CFL for their Innovation Lab operations. Assembly Member Ortiz secured additional funds for computers and fit-out of the space.
“Industry City has become a true economic engine for Brooklyn, revitalizing our industrial sector while providing jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I’m proud to have been able to support the creation of the Innovation Lab, which will provide resources for local workers and business owners as well as allow Industry City to continue growing our local economy.”
“I expect great results from the Innovation Lab. Our community will thrive only if people in and near Sunset Park get training, and good local jobs. South Brooklyn employers are growing and must find talented people. The Innovation Lab created by Industry City will connect job seekers with high-quality employment, training, and career development. Support for entrepreneurs promises to cultivate a new generation of employers,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, District 38. “I’m proud to help fund this endeavor, which coordinates and co-locates long-standing Sunset Park service organizations.”
“This new Innovation Lab marks a new advancement for the Sunset Park waterfront. The lab will help open access to new, high-quality jobs that are being created in our community,” said Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “I am pleased the Innovation Lab is opening and congratulate Industry City and its partners for providing the Sunset Park community with access to workforce development resources they need and deserve.”
Starting Monday, April 11, The Innovation Lab, located at 87 35th Street, 2nd Floor, will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and offer a wide range of training and job placement services geared toward jobs in the city’s rapidly emerging innovation economy. The innovation economy captures the full arc of the product-making process, from initial research and development, to engineering and design, and to manufacturing and production, and includes physical, digital and engineered products.
“Innovation Lab establishes a direct conduit between local residents and area businesses located both here at Industry City and elsewhere in Sunset Park,” said Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City. “With tens of thousands of new innovation economy jobs projected to be created on the Brooklyn waterfront over the next decade, this workforce pipeline is more valuable than ever, and provides a real opportunity to strengthen the local community for residents and businesses alike for generations.”
The Lab’s specific services and programs will immediately include pre-screening and job placement services with the more than 400 businesses based at Industry City, as well as businesses at other developments along the waterfront, including Bush Terminal, Liberty View, Sims Recycling Facility, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Long-term, The Innovation Lab will offer technology and vocational training programs targeted to business growth needs, entrepreneurship and cooperative training programs, and continuing education programs.
“City Tech is proud to be a partner in Innovation Lab – an initiative aligned with the College’s long-standing mission of expanding access and opportunity to all those seeking to build careers in our innovation economy,” said Dr. Russell Hotzler, President of City Tech. “We look forward to partnering with Andrew Kimball and the Industry City team to help provide workforce training and Small Business Development services to Industry City, Sunset Park, and other Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods.”
The Innovation Lab will also offer collaborative programming with a number of community organizations and city agencies, including the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Turning Point Brooklyn, Consortium for Worker Education, Mixteca, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Red Hook Initiative, New York City Economic Development Corporation and New York City Department of Small Business Services.
“By offering workforce development and readiness services, the Innovation Lab promises to create greater opportunity throughout Brooklyn,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “As a largely immigrant, walk-to-work community, Sunset Park’s residents stand to benefit greatly from these services, which will also help meet local businesses’ workforce needs.”
“The Southwest Brooklyn waterfront has historically been a source of good-paying jobs,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “The Innovation Lab at Industry City will create a direct pathway between the local workforce and local job opportunities, the vast majority of which offer real pathways to the middle class. With thousands of more jobs expected over the coming decade, this new resource is aptly timed to maximize economic opportunity in the local communities.”
“SBIDC is incredibly excited to join with some of our longstanding local partners as well as Industry City at the Innovation Lab. Having an onsite presence, with easier access to Industry City’s employers, will better enable us to connect members of the community with good quality, career-track industrial jobs on the campus, and sharing a space with great partners like OBT, BWI, and CUNY will only serve to foster collaboration on a wide range of projects,” said David Meade, Executive Director of SBIDC.”
“Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow is thrilled to be a partner in Industry City’s Innovation Lab, which will open a new door of opportunity for local youth,” said Randy Peers, Chief Executive Officer of OBT. “Through this partnership, young people will have the opportunity to join the growing innovation economy in Brooklyn and beyond. The Innovation Lab will provide youth with foundational training in coding, website development and more, and connect them with jobs where they can apply their newly learned skills.”
“Brooklyn Workforce Innovations is proud to partner with this collaborative of talented nonprofit and educational partners,” said Aaron Shiffman, Executive Director of BWI. “We look forward to expanding job and training opportunities to the Sunset Park community.”
“The Innovation Lab’s opening will further advance the impact of the innovation economy’s growth in New York City by connecting southern Brooklyn’s hard-working residents with great employment opportunities in the technology, design and manufacturing fields, while also providing entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed and create jobs,” said Senator Martin J. Golden. “As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, I congratulate Industry City and its partners for their efforts in creating this innovative community hub.”
“I commend Industry City and its partners for the grand opening of the Innovation Lab. This great community asset will make a tremendous improvement and impact in the working lives of our communities,” said Senator Velmanette Montgomery. “By providing valuable skills evaluation, job training and entrepreneurial assistance, the Lab will help local residents find work and create jobs in 21st century industries in the innovation economy.”
“As the Innovation Lab opens its doors to the communities of Southwest Brooklyn and beyond, thousands of New Yorkers will now have access to employment and job training services,” said Senator Diane J. Savino. “I applaud Industry City and its partners for their work and dedication on this important issue, and for creating a pipeline connecting the community with the thousands of innovation economy jobs being created along the Southwest Brooklyn waterfront.”
“For over a century, the Sunset Park waterfront has been a place where commerce and industry meets innovation. It’s the place where people have found work to improve their livelihood and where products can be made to improve the world. Brooklyn Community Board Seven congratulates Industry City on the creation of The Innovation Lab and looks forward to the next century of innovation and shared opportunity for our community,” said Daniel Murphy, Chair of Brooklyn Community Board Seven.
“Brooklyn’s waterfront has become a significant employment hub in New York City, with high-quality jobs providing good wages, and The Innovation Lab at Industry City will take the borough’s innovation corridor to incredible new heights,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “This center will be a terrific resource for Brooklyn’s residents and aspiring entrepreneurs, and it will greatly strengthen our business community. Congratulations to Industry City, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that The Innovation Lab assists as many Brooklynites and businesses as possible.”