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Will NYC's bet on innovation pay off?

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Mike Segar / Reuters / File

(Read caption) The Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline are seen in this photograph taken from a tour boat in New York Harbor, June 30, 2008. What would it take to turn the city into a center for innovation?

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Is New York City the right place to build the "next Silicon Valley"? The Mayor appears to believe so and he is prepared to use a fair bit of $ to try to achieve this goal.

"The RFP is the next step in the initiative – unveiled in December 2010 – that seeks a university, institution or consortium to develop and operate a new or expanded campus in the City in exchange for access to City-owned land – at the Navy Hospital Campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Goldwater Hospital Campus on Roosevelt Island, or on Governors Island – and the full support and partnership of the Bloomberg Administration. The City is also prepared to make a significant investment in site infrastructure, offering up to $100 million in a competitive process designed to select the proposal that yields the most benefit to the City for the lowest commitment of City resources. The City expects that any public contribution will be matched several times over by resources raised by the winner or winners themselves."

Will excellent students and professors and new firms want to locate in these areas? I realize they need to be gentrified but will these "desirable engineers" want to live and work in these locations? If they do want to live and work in these locations, is it obvious that there will be a significant "spillover" effect that benefits incumbent New Yorkers such as my parents? Will the imported engineering nerds really make a discovery that they would not have discovered had they not been in NYC? It is true that access to Wall Street may offer some synergies as engineers seeking venture capital for their own version of Facebook will have an easy time getting to Wall Street to make a presentation but should city money be used to subsidize such activities?

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