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Wall Street Journal Spotlights DUMBO Tech Sector

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The Wall Street Journal this week printed a half-page spread on the growth of the multitudes of tech companies in DUMBO and the challenges facing the industry. The article, “DUMBO is Jumbo With Tech” (we dare you to Tatt.ly that somewhere discretely), comes on the heels of big news by the Mayor that Cornell will set up a technology campus on Roosevelt Island and that they are still considering a proposal by NYU to turn 370 Jay into another tech center of innovation.

Of the many amazing tech and digital companies in DUMBO, the article singled out a few to highlight the growth of tech in the neighborhood:

  • HUGE: “HUGE has gone from seven employees to more than 400 world-wide, most of whom are in DUMBO. It expects to hire an additional 50 people next year to work as programmers, designers and strategists.”
  • Etsy: “Online crafts retailer Etsy has become one of the DUMBO’s fastest-growing companies and expects to keep that pace, said Chief Executive Officer Chad Dickerson. Etsy employs about 250 and added about 100 workers in 2011. “We are growing in the model of what you see out in Silicon Valley—heavy on engineers and creative people.”
  • Small Planet (pictured above): “Small Planet started business in 2009 and now has nearly two dozen employees. The company wants to hire six more positions immediately.”
  • Pontiflex: “Now with about 60 employees [Pontiflex] moved into a new 11,000-square-foot space in DUMBO on Dec. 12. Mr. [Zephrin] Lasker expects to add nearly two dozen more employees in the coming years.
  • NYU-Poly Incubator: “Covering 7,000 square feet, the incubator will have less than half of the space that the school has at its existing incubator on Varick Street in Manhattan. Due to the space constraints, the new incubator will focus on growing companies and moving them out quickly, said Jerry Hultin, president of NYU-Poly.”

The WSJ article identified two main challenges for growth of the industry: space and talent, quoting  DUMBO BID Executive Director, Alexandria Sica:

“[Digital marketing firm] Huge is one reason why the tech industry, with more than 100 companies in Dumbo, now employs the most workers in the neighborhood, said Alexandria Sica of the DUMBO Business Improvement District. As real estate becomes tighter, “We are starting to have to think about where to put them.”

Sica later added, “We’re exploring ways to let companies continue to grow in an expanding DUMBO. It’s a major priority for 2012.” On the subject of the NYU plan, Sica said “We hear from firms every day that they could be growing faster if they could find the right talent, and we believe that the NYU proposal to transform 370 Jay Street into a thriving center for tech innovation and training would be a true benefit to this community.”

The DUMBO Improvement District is encouraging everyone to speak up on the NYU proposal – you can vote here in a poll posted by our friends at the Carrol Gardens Patch.

Crain’s, the Real Deal and Forbes also got in the mix with related posts.