Innovation Lab Opens at Industry City

[Left-Right] Randy Peers, Chief Executive Officer of OBT, Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior advisor to Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Senator Martin J. Golden, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Dr. Russell Hotzler, President of City Tech. (Photo by Donny Levit / Sunset Park Voice)

[Left-right] Randy Peers, chief executive officer of OBT, Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior advisor to Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, Council member Carlos Menchaca, Sen. Martin J. Golden, Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, and Dr. Russell Hotzler, president of City Tech. (Photo by Donny Levit via Sunset Park Voice)

Just a couple of days before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took her campaign to Industry City in Sunset Park, the new Industry City Innovation Lab opened its doors, dedicated to helping train south Brooklyn residents in the digital and other skills they need to get good jobs in the city. Dennis Lynch of Brooklyn Daily checked out the lab.

The state-of-the-art facility will give students access to tech they probably never would have otherwise, said one teen who will study computer programming there.

“We’re the first class to get stuff like this, so I’m pretty humbled by it and excited to start working in the lab — its an amazing opportunity and I’m glad to be a part of it,” 19-year-old Sheepshead Bay resident Dave Barthly said.

A number of city officials and community leaders were on hand for the ribbon cutting April 7 for the 7,700-square-foot-facility. Donny Levit of Sunset Park Voice was there for the dedication:

“The biggest challenges businesses are facing today is the workforce being unprepared for new jobs,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “One of the most expensive parts of any business is training. That is why we are here.”

Levit reports that the lab will offer pre-screening and job placement services with the more than 400 businesses at Industry City, as well as businesses at other developments along the waterfront, including Bush Terminal, Liberty View, Sims Recycling Facility, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Technology and vocational training programs will be offered, as well as entrepreneurship programs.

Locally, some Sunset Park activists have worried about what the Industry Park development means for the neighborhood and its longtime residents. At the ribbon cutting, Sunset Park Voice reports, City Council member Carlos Menchaca noted the importance of efforts such as the Innovation Lab.

Considering the $1 billion redevelopment being invested into the mammoth Industry City, the Innovation Lab serves — not only as an opportunity for excellent business education — but a concrete commitment to the Sunset Park community. Avoiding community disenfranchisement should be as a high priority as the tremendous commercial growth happening at I.C.

Menchaca verbalized the high stakes and expectations for the Innovation Lab: “we do not have the luxury of getting this wrong,” he said.

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