NYCEDC and RAL Development break ground on $250 million, 21-story Union Square Tech Training Center

August 20, 2019 - Design / Build
Union Square Tech Training Center - 
Manhattan, NY

Manhattan, NY NYCEDC, deputy mayor Vicki Been, council member Carlina Rivera, borough president Gale Brewer, community stakeholders and RAL Development Services broke ground on the new 21-story building that will house the Union Square Tech Training Center.  

Technology spans every industry from fashion to media to finance, and tech companies and careers now account for nearly 300,000 jobs in NYC. The Tech Training Center is designed to help diversify NYC’s tech sector and create more accessible pathways to good-paying jobs for communities around Union Square and across the entire city. NYCEDC anticipates that the Tech Training Center will create over 550 permanent jobs and over 600 construction jobs. 

Located at 124 East 14th St., the $250 million Tech Training Center will create a multi-level ecosystem to grow the next generation of companies, industries and tech workers. Civic Hall, a non-profit collaborative community center that advances the use of technology for the public good, will operate the Civic Hall @ Union Square Center, a digital skills training center where they will work with industry-leading training organizations including Per Scholas, FEDCAP, CUNY, Mouse and General Assembly, to provide technology classes that teach in-demand skills that employers are seeking. These training opportunities will develop a talent pipeline between New Yorkers, especially groups currently unrepresented in the tech sector, and the city’s burgeoning tech ecosystem. 

“The new Tech Training Center will be a hub for local residents to gain new skills, network, and plug into the City’s thriving tech scene,” said Been. “We are proud to support this new institution and its goal of helping to create the most dynamic and diverse tech ecosystem in the country. Thanks to our partners who made this project possible; we look forward to seeing all the good that will come from their vision, commitment to a fairer New York, and hard work.”

“The Union Square Tech Training Center provides new opportunities for New Yorkers to enter one of the city’s fastest-growing and most exciting sectors, and we’re pleased to celebrate this important milestone,” said NYCEDC president and CEO James Patchett. “Tech is an important part of the city’s future and the Tech Training Center at Union Square means that New Yorkers from all backgrounds can be a part of it. We’d like to thank councilwoman Rivera, borough president Brewer, and our community and project partners who have helped made this center possible.”

Ground breaking of Union Square Tech Training Center.

“With tech jobs surging by 38% in New York City over the past seven years, it is imperative that job opportunities reach New Yorkers in the neighborhoods that need them most. That’s why I’m so excited to see ground break on the Union Square Tech Training Center, a first-in-the-nation, city-developed center that will provide free and subsidized tech training to thousands of low-income women and people of color, and connect them to subsidized spaces in the same building to grow their ideas into start-ups,” said Rivera. “The curriculum, some of which is currently being piloted with local community partners, is already creating new pathways to success for residents of the Lower East Side where I grew up, and I can’t wait to see this center of excellence open.”

“Tech is the future, and every New Yorker, regardless of economic background, should be empowered to take part in this exciting industry,” said Brewer. “I’m thrilled to break ground on the Union Square Tech Training Center, which will help train the future tech-mavens of our city.”

“Community Board 3 is very pleased to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Union Square Tech Training Center,” said Alysha Lewis-Coleman, board chair of Community Board 3. “This center will provide training to our youth and all residents for living-wage tech jobs for the 21st century economy. It will additionally provide space and amenities for the community and opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs. We are very proud to have participated in the development of this center for the benefit of our community.”

“We are thrilled to gather and celebrate with all the community stakeholders along with local officials on the groundbreaking of a remarkable, transformative public-private project,” said Spencer Levine, president of RAL Development. “The Tech Training Center has been the result of a joint effort between the city’s administration, Community Board 3, councilwoman Carlina Rivera, RAL, and EDC, and we are very proud of what this project will achieve for New Yorkers and the local community. We are excited to see it come to life and look forward to maintaining the ongoing collaboration with the community on what we are sure will be a welcomed addition to both the Union Square area and all of New York City.”

“Civic Hall @ Union Square Tech Training Centers offers New Yorkers from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn new 21st century skills which will lead to good paying jobs while at the same time offering the tech industry an opportunity to make their workforce more diverse, equitable and inclusive,” said Andrew Rasiej, co-founder and CEO of Civic Hall. “It is only fitting that this new public institution focused on the future be located at Union Square, a place historically associated with civic engagement, and empowerment.”

The city and council member Carlina Rivera have also convened the Tech Training Community Advisory Board, which will promote opportunities for the annual $200,000 investment in local scholarship and grant opportunities and provide strategic guidance for the Center’s operations. The scholarship fund will assist low-income students and expand non-profit training to gain access to the Center. CAB members appointed by the city, councilmember and borough president include:

• Andrea Gordillo, Loisaida, Inc.

• Andrew Rasiej, Civic Hall

• Anisha Steephen, Community Board 3

• Bryan Keller, Software developer and neighborhood resident

• Gaspar Caro, Lower East Side Employment Network

• Josh Wein, RAL Development Services

• Tom Brasuell, former president, Major League Baseball Charities

“The Union Square Tech Training Center will be a boon to New York’s economy, and help ensure our tech sector continues to grow for years to come,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC. “Equipping New Yorkers for the digital economy requires having spaces dedicated to training them and teaching the tech skills of tomorrow, making the Center vital to local workforce development. Many people, including us, have been looking forward to this project for a long time, and today’s groundbreaking moves it one step closer to reality.”

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Union Square Tech Training Center,” said Lenore Friedlaender, assistant to the president of 32BJ SEIU. “This important hub is not only poised to make New York an even bigger player in the tech industry nation-wide, it will also lift up local communities with good jobs that come with opportunities for family health, retirement security, training and more. These benefits create an environment where New Yorkers can truly thrive in our city.”

“We are grateful to continue working with RAL, a company with a long-standing commitment to union labor,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The groundbreaking of the Union Square Tech Training Center represents the beginning of a high-quality project that will provide safe and well-paying jobs for union worker New Yorkers. We look forward to collaborating with all private and public stakeholders on one of the city’s most exciting projects.”

“The opportunity to be part of the Union Square Tech Training Center is a tremendous leap forward for Per Scholas as we work to diversify New York City’s tech sector,” said Plinio Ayala, president & CEO, Per Scholas. “Our mission has always been to provide overlooked talent with the tools and training they need to move on to successful, transformative careers in tech. The center will allow us to do so on a much larger scale, while also enabling us to expand our employer reach and collaborate with like-minded organizations. We could not be more excited to get started.”

“We are pleased to support New York’s first ever technology training center and help provide access to quality training and 21st century jobs for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Kristen Titus, executive director of the Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “This building will serve as an important convening place for the city’s employers, students, policy makers, and workforce development organizations to strengthen the tech ecosystem and create new opportunities for people across the five boroughs.”

“Civic Hall @ Union Square Center will create proximity between training programs and growing businesses in these sectors,” said Liliana Polo-McKenna, CEO of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow. “A central strategy to creating true access to tech and tech-adjacent careers is to ensure that workforce training efforts are closely linked to the industries they are preparing people for.  We know that access is not enough; we have to provide people with the skills, tools, and support to be successful in the long-term.  The potential for synergy and collaboration in the space is exciting and will greatly benefit job-seekers and those looking to build up their skills.” 

“Today is a great day for our city and a great day for East Village and Lower East Side. Educational Alliance and the 50,000 New Yorkers who frequent our community centers are thrilled that the Union Square Tech Training Center, anchored by Civic Hall, is finally coming to fruition,” said Alan van Capelle, president and CEO, Educational Alliance. “We are incredibly grateful to those whose hard work made this project possible, especially our dear friends council member Carlina Rivera and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer. We are excited to work side-by-side with world-class tech training organizations like Per Scholas, FEDCAP, CUNY, Mouse, and general assembly, to bring critical opportunities to the diverse population we serve in Lower Manhattan. The possibilities are endless.”

“This transformational moment further cements the Union Square-14th St, district as the epicenter of technology and innovation in New York City,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership. “The Union Square Tech Training Center will create an inclusive ecosystem that will foster collaboration and bring new opportunities for so many New Yorkers. The Union Square Partnership could not be more proud to support this initiative, which will serve as another phenomenal anchor tenant in our district.”

In addition to the Tech Training Center, the new 240,000 s/f building will offer collaborative workspaces; modern, market-rate space for established, industry-leading corporations; and “step-up” offices with flexible and affordable leasing terms and options that are better suited to start-ups and growing companies. By co-locating workforce training organizations with start-ups and larger-scale tech companies, the building is designed to encourage collaboration and innovation. The center will also include a floor available to community organizations and a food hall/retail space that will feature small businesses and first-time entrepreneurs. RAL Development Services and Suffolk Construction have committed to a 35% M/WBE participation goal in construction jobs for the Union Square Tech Training Center, and the project is expected to be completed by 2020.

In 2016, New York’s tech sector set a new employment record of 128,600 jobs, and number of tech firms in the city reached 7,600, an increase of 23% since 2010. Already a high-paying industry, total wages paid to workers in the sector doubled since 2010 to reach a record $18.9 billion in 2016. The Tech Training Center is a key component of Mayor de Blasio’s New York Works plan to create 100,000 jobs over the next ten years. The plan focuses on creating accessible jobs in tech, industrial, creative, life sciences, and healthcare sectors. 

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