On 10.5.18, Industry City spokesman Lee Silberstein shared new information via email concerning programming at the Innovation Lab. The full text of the email is below, in italics. I highlighted several parts, for emphasis.
As you may know, the Innovation Lab (the Lab) at Industry City is unique in that a private owner has built-out and provided free space to community workforce development partners. In addition to providing free space, we are proud of our role in effectively partnering with numerous local workforce development groups as well as universities, colleges, and local schools while facilitating introductions to our tenants and supporting outreach and marketing efforts in the community regarding the services available at the Lab.
Programmatic offerings at and operation of Innovation Lab are continually being fine-tuned and updated to offer solutions to challenges that confront the area as they emerge. One significant change occurred in the Spring of 2018 when Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT) took on the lead role coordinating the day to day activity at the Lab.
In addition to OBT’s lead role, here is a summary of current activities and responsibilities:
- OBT, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI), and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) collaborate on pre-screening of candidates, job placements and training programs;
- OBT provides its Web and Coding Fundamentals Training program targeting 18-24 year olds;
- SBIDC offers its Plan for Growth small business training program;
- CUNY City Tech offers ESOL and Citizenship classes as well as targeted small business training programs.
- The Center for Family Life and Turning Point regularly send local job seekers to our weekly information and pre-screening sessions.
Outside of these core initiatives, the Innovation Lab is offering other complementary trainings and programs. Examples include: ESOL classes with the Jewish Community Council of Greater NY; Periodic women’s health programming with Mixteca; Local small business outreach and procurement assistance in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; NYU Tandon’s cyber security training program provided to 30 young women from Sunset Park High School this summer; NYU Tandon’s Veterans Lab at Industry City used the Lab to host Veteran entrepreneurship classes this summer; and AECOM’s partnership with Sunset Park High School to provide engineering internships to 20 Sunset Park High School students. In addition, every summer, Industry City facilitates approximately 75 paid internships for local youth with its tenants.
We are proud that since its opening in 2016, the Lab has served over 1400 individuals and 300 businesses. In addition, over 250 direct placements have been made with businesses, with 65% of those placements going to Sunset Park residents, and over 350 young people have benefited from internships, the majority also being local residents.
You’ll be happy to know that within the next two weeks the web site we’ve discussed will be launched, containing more data and info than any other project of this type has ever offered to our knowledge. Data on the website will be periodically updated to reflect the steady increase in activity that we are experiencing at the Lab.
Finally, as a private venture, you can understand that proprietary information we receive from our tenants will remain confidential.
In response, I sent Mr. Silberstein the following questions:
1) You wrote, “the Lab has served over 1400 individuals and 300 businesses.” For clarity, can you define “served” in this context?
2) A related question: does the 1,400 number include all programming at the Lab, including all of the programming you listed?
3) Is IC able to break down this number in a more detailed way? You wrote that 20 Sunset Park High School students took part in AECOM’s engineering internship, while 30 young women took part in the NYU Tanden programming. Do similar participation numbers exist for other IC programming? And if so, would we be able to find out where participants are coming from?
4) You wrote: “Over 250 direct placements have been made with businesses, with 65% of those placements going to Sunset Park residents.” Do you have data on where those businesses are located? How many in IC, how many elsewhere?
5) You wrote: “Over 350 young people have benefited from internships, the majority also being local residents.” Do you have data on where those internships took place – how many in IC, how many elsewhere?
6) You wrote: “within the next two weeks the web site we’ve discussed will be launched, containing more data and info than any other project of this type has ever offered to our knowledge.” Can you share any detail about what specific data will be shared on this site going forward? Critically, will the site share wage and benefits data for job placements, and will it indicate whether the jobs are full or part-time?
7) Will the data on this site pertain specifically to the work of the Innovation Lab? Or will it include all of IC, as with your two previously announced tenant surveys?
8) You wrote, “Data on the website will be periodically updated to reflect the steady increase in activity that we are experiencing at the Lab.” Can you specify what is meant by “periodically” – quarterly? Annually?
This blog will be updated with any response received.
On 9.26.18, staffers with Councilman Carlos Menchaca said they had scheduled a meeting with Industry City representatives for Friday, Sep. 28. “The agenda includes several items,” spokesman Anthony Chiarito said, “one of which is a discussion of their workforce development efforts.” He continued (in italics):
“We plan to ask them to outline for us how they are managing, coordinating, and supporting the efforts of their workforce providers in the Innovation Lab, i.e. what IC staff are part of the lab, what kinds of support they are providing, and who is tracking the lab’s success.”
On 10.3.18, the staffers shared information on what they learned at the meeting – below, in italics:
- When they [IC] talk with their tenants, they constantly ask them if there are any hiring needs that could be satisfied by the Innovation Lab. If so, then they work with the tenants to link up with the Innovation Lab for hiring purposes. These efforts take up about 10% of staff time. (Note: this bullet point was updated to more accurately reflect what Mr. Menchaca’s staffers were told.)
- OBT is effectively in charge of running the Innovation Lab, so IC’s role is more to coordinate and manage by extracting commitments from tenants to hire locally.
- IC claims they are tracking every employer’s hiring practices, # of jobs that go to locals, # of connections made from Innovation Lab, etc. (Note: this bullet point was updated to more accurately reflect what Mr. Menchaca’s staffers were told.)
- IC says they are going to rollout a new website that will publicize these statistics. (Unclear if they mean separate website from current, or just a page).
In response to this, I sent a set of questions to Industry City on 10.3.18. I asked (in italics):
(1) Mr. Menchaca’s staffers wrote: “OBT is effectively in charge of running the Innovation Lab, so IC’s role is more to coordinate and manage by extracting commitments from tenants to hire locally.”
Question: There are four partner organizations listed on the Lab’s website: OBT, SBIDC, City Tech, and the Center for Family Life. Are City Tech, the Center for Family Life, and SBIDC still running programming at the Lab? If so, what specific information can IC share about their activities and impact?
(2) Mr. Menchaca’s staffers wrote: “IC claims they are tracking every employer’s hiring practices, # of jobs that go to locals, # of connections made from Innovation Lab, etc.”
Question: Will the most updated collection of this data be made available to the public? If so, when, and in what form?
(3) Relatedly, Mr. Menchaca’s staffers wrote: “IC says they are going to rollout a new website that will publicize these statistics.”
Question: When will this site be made public? How often will it be updated? What specific information will it contain?
The information from IC at the top of this post came in response to these questions.
— Posted by JVS on 10.5.18