It's my pleasure to welcome you all to the first of NYC 2000's Millennium Discussion Series. I think this is a very appropriate topic that we'll be discussing this morning. This will be a quarterly discussion series with notable New Yorkers on topics ranging from Foreign Policy in the 21st Century, hosted by Henry Kissinger, to today's discussion on "New York New Media and the New Economy."
New York City is at least 375 years old, and throughout those 375 years, New York City has been at the forefront of each major wave of economic change that has taken place.
We began as a trading city. In fact, if you go to the New Amsterdam Theater and you go to the lounge area, there are about eight murals that depict the history of New York City and New York State. And one of the earliest is a mural of Dutch settlers trading with Native Americans on Wall Street in 1634, I believe. From the beginning New York was a trading city, a business city. And at the core of our great strength is the conduct of business, which is something that we should be very proud of - and build on.
Today, we are not only at the beginning of a new millennium, but also what many people describe as a new economy - the information economy. And our City finds itself at the forefront of that as well.
Since, 1997 the number of high-tech related companies in our City has nearly doubled from 2,600 to almost 4,000. 75% of the tri-state metro area's new high-tech firms are located in the City of New York. Our high-tech workforce grows faster than any other segment of the economy- including Wall Street. And by 2002, the number of New Yorkers working in high technology is expected to exceed 250,000 - when just a few years ago it was virtually zero.
This explosion of high growth is not just a happy accident - it has been encouraged by policy decisions that have consciously sought to develop New York's role as a capital of New Technology and New Media.
In 1997 - the same year that saw the first quantum leap of internet growth in our City - we created the "Plug 'n Go" program to provide affordable, Internet-ready, pre-wired office space in Lower Manhattan. And it was one of the things that helped to turn around Lower Manhattan, which at that point was seeing very significant vacancy rates. More than 250 new high-tech companies have benefited from this initiative. These incentives for local high-tech investment - which included tax-cuts - have resulted in revenues from high-tech firms that have increased 60 percent annually, from $2.8 billion in 1997 to $9.2 billion in 1999. And this year they'll exceed well over $10 billion.
It has almost become a cliche to say that in the information economy, "knowledge is power." That's actually always been true - knowledge is power. And the simple fact is that knowledge is the fuel that powers the engine of our economy. And here, too, New York City finds itself in an enviable position, with a very well educated workforce.
We have nearly 50 colleges and universities in the Metropolitan area. Our schools have been outfitted for teaching young people about high-technology through "Project Smart Schools," which has given every middle school classroom access to a computer.
One of the other pressing needs for the new media industry is content. New York City actually may have too much content. We are home to four daily newspapers, 2000 weekly and monthly papers, and 80 news-wire services. That's more content than anybody can explore. We are home to four national television networks and at least 25 major cable companies, including HBO, MTV, A&E, Nickleodeon and Fox News. We are the Capital of the publishing industry - home to hundreds of national magazines, such as Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes and Businessweek. This is the content capital of the world without any doubt. And 18% of the nation's publishing workforce lives and works in the City of New York. So a significant source of content and media muscle already exists in our City.
And just as in the Industrial Age, Wall Street's proximity also is a real core to our ability to offer content - content that is of enormous importance to the economy of the United States and the world.
So this is going to be an area of great growth for the City of New York. We're trying to figure out where the jobs are going to come from ten, or fifteen, or twenty-five years from now. This whole industry - and as yet unimagined developments in this industry -are where our children and grandchildren will be working, creating and doing things that are probably even now hard to imagine.
Last year, New York City was home to more high-tech IPOs than any other City, and venture capital investment in New York City-based high-technology companies increased by 177% between 1998 and 1999.
We want to do everything possible to channel New York City's tremendous creative and commercial energy towards the industries of the future. That's why we've formed the Mayor's Council on New Media and the Mayor's Task Force on Biotechnology.
At the end of the day, our responsibility is to do everything we can to ensure that New York City remains the Capital of the World. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure that our City continues to embrace change - not be afraid of change - while remaining true to the entrepreneurial spirit that has always guided its growth.
This is an area that allows tremendous freedom for people to develop and to grow, and I'd just like to close by asking you to reflect on the skyline of New York City. The skyline of New York City is a reflection of human freedom. No one planned it. No one ordered it. No one determined what each one of the buildings was going to look like, or what they would do. In fact, when we've tried to do that - and we have at times - we've really hurt our economy and stunted our growth. But when we've allowed people to make their own free choices, they created the most exceptional, the most wonderful, and the most beautiful city in the world. And they did it without government planning. The Internet offers that same opportunity to the growth of human knowledge.
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