Ortiz, Kimball Give German Legislators Tour of Industry City

Industry City showed its reach.

On Thursday, September 13, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and CEO of Industry City Andrew Kimball gave German legislators a tour of the massive waterfront space.

The elected officials were given a behind-the-scenes look, with visits to Li-Lac Chocolate, Innovation Lab, Veterans Future Lab and Motivate, which owns the Citi Bike Program. The trip is sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Ortiz, who is co-chair of NCSL, explained the importance of the tour.

The German legislators, he said, “Really want to see some of the businesses and schools in my district. We put it together for them to see how Industry City was 30 years ago. They saw that and what it is today. Every country throughout the globe is looking to see what other places are doing regarding economy, job creation, development and innovation. So I thought this would be a perfect example for them to see, Industry City and also Red Hook, and how far they have come as far creating jobs as well as bringing new development.”

Kimball, who showed the attendees various manufacturing companies and explained each of their roles, hosts these tours on a regular basis.

“At least once a week, I’m touring with people from other parts of the country and the world that are interested in how we are bringing the innovation economy to life here at Industry City and redeveloping this massive complex and creating good paying, local jobs,” he told this paper. “There’s a lot of interest in how this can be replicated elsewhere.

He said he believes the legislators got a lot out of it.

“I think they were really impressed with the basic infrastructure that we’ve made, from new streets and loading docks to innovation alley and courtyards,” Kimball said. “I think they were also impressed with the range of companies, from high tech to light manufacturing, to design to engineering, and I think they were very impressed with the Innovation Lab and the connection we are making with the community on job placement.”

Both Ortiz and Kimball stressed the importance of hiring locals.

“I explained that we’re able to hire people in our community and if they don’t have the skills, they can be trained by the company,” said Ortiz. “That way they can be given the opportunity to be part of it.”

“It is part of being a good neighbor globally,” added Kimball.

The future of the space was also discussed.

“I talked about how we want to go from heavy manufacturing to light manufacturing here,” Kimball said. “We want to add more flexibility on retail, be able to add academics and bring in colleges and universities. We want to be able to build some more, about a million square feet of space, and we’d like to have two hotels here because people are increasingly doing business here from all over the country and the world.”

Marcel Lenggenhager, an elected official from Zürich, Switzerland, said he was “surprised and impressed.

“It’s very a good project and in Switzerland we have the same but a little bit smaller,” he noted.

The highlight of the event for him was observing the smaller companies.

“It gives them a chance to begin small and get bigger,” he said. “That’s a great idea. Many young people have such good ideas. Here is a place where people can go and use them.”

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