After years of planning, Industry City finally cut the ribbon on its new Innovation Lab, a new resource center within the six million square-foot facility designed to offer community job training and entrepreneur development in the technology field.
The ceremony, held on Thursday, April 8 featured Industry City employees, several elected officials, members of Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow, Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, and CUNY, who helped fund the lab. The 7,700 square-foot space will also offer job placement and technical support.
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz told this paper hat he had the vision for making Sunset Park more tech savvy for decades and is pleased to see the center come to fruition.
“In 1996, I created the first innovative lab in Sunset Park. We had 25 computers to train these located workers and give children the opportunity to have access to laptops as a result that technology was taking off,” he said. “We have to think about how we can prepare our next generation of workers to be ready for the future, and this is the first step in the right direction.”
“We started this project in 2013 and it is thrilling to announce in two years we’ve added over 2,000 jobs here,” said Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball. “More important, is that nearly half of those folks live in Sunset Park and the surrounding communities. We call that a good start, but we know we have a long way to go and we hope that with your help, by 2025, the revitalization of Industry City will generate a total of 20,000 jobs.”
The lab officially opens to the public on Monday, April 11 and according to Chief of Staff and Director of Community Engagement at Industry City Cristal Rivera, the program will hit the ground running. “We’re going to have some pre-screening job placement services happening immediately and some training programs,” she said, stressing that the facility is meant for the community. “Our vision for the Innovation Lab is to create programming that is responsive to not only the needs of our tenants and the businesses in Sunset Park, but the local residents.”
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca echoed Rivera’s sentiments, adding that the public needs to spread the word for the cutting edge program to be successful. “We have just built an innovation lab for you. This is here as a resource for you. You are all now deputized to talk about it in our neighborhoods, churches, and schools,” he said. “We need every ounce of opportunity to get out and that happens when people go out and talk about opportunities in this neighborhood.”
“The biggest challenge businesses are facing today is a workforce that is not ready for the jobs with the new technology and new innovation and that is exactly what we’re doing here,” added Congressmember Nydia Velázquez. “The Innovation Lab promises to create greater opportunities here in Sunset Park and Brooklyn.”
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.