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Report: Booming Brooklyn Innovation Economy Outpaces Manhattan, Major U.S. Cities

Brooklyn is taking the lead in innovative industries related to technology, creativity and invention, the study reveals.
Brooklyn Navy Yard, BK Reader
Photo courtesy Optimus Ride

new report by the Center for an Urban Future finds that Brooklyn has emerged as one of the nation's leaders in the innovation economy, with the borough's growth in tech start-ups, creative companies and innovative manufacturers significantly outpacing Manhattan and other leading cities. 

The study, which was produced in partnership with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Dumbo Improvement District, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and Industry City, reveals that the borough was second in the nation in the growth of tech start-ups over the past decade, with the borough's 356 percent increase besting all but one of the country's 17 major tech hubs.

"The innovation economy has become a vital new engine of growth for Brooklyn," said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future. "Innovation industries have added thousands of well-paying jobs across Brooklyn, helped diversify the borough's economy, and given Brooklyn an important competitive advan­tage in a part of the economy that is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead."

The report also finds that employment in Brooklyn's creative industries is up by 155 percent over the past decade, nearly ten times the growth rate of Manhattan. And in eight different creative industries—including film/tv, graphic design, architecture, industrial design and publishing—Brooklyn was first or second among the nation's 25 largest counties in employment growth over the last ten years.

Additionally, the study shows that the borough's manufacturing sector has significantly outperformed the city as a whole since the Great Recession, with much of the growth coming from a new generation of companies in the fields of manufacturing, technology and design. According to the report, manufacturing jobs citywide declined by 7 percent citywide, but were up by 1 percent in Brooklyn.

"We are focused on leading the urban manufacturing resurgence and creating high-quality jobs at a range of skill levels, and this report underscores that Brooklyn is at the heart of that movement," said David Ehrenberg, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. "As technology innovation continues to influence manufacturing in Brooklyn, providing the borough's residents with access to and training for those jobs remains a high priority. This report validates that work and lays out a comprehensive case for Brooklyn as an innovation economy leader nationwide."

The report provides a new level of data about the size and scope of Brooklyn's innovation economy, which it defines as a set of indus­tries fueled by technology, creativity and invention that is driving much of the nation's high-wage job gains. In addition to documenting the borough's growth in these three key parts of the innovation economy—tech startups, creative companies and innovative manufacturers—it shows which sub-fields within tech, creative and manufacturing have been growing the fastest in Brooklyn and which industries comprise a larger share of Brooklyn's innovation economy than Manhattan's.

"At the cross-section of arts and tech, Brooklyn has become a hub for innovation and growth, outperforming the rest of the city in attracting and growing companies at the cutting edge of their industries," said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "And with a population set to eclipse Chicago's by 2020, the borough serves as a model for cities around the world. This report clearly demonstrates that New York City is no longer a synonym for Manhattan -- Brooklyn is on the map."

To see the full report, go here


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