New tech center promises Mott Haven jobs


Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas, commences the grand opening of the Urban Development Center in Port Morris on Sept. 16.

Urban Development Center brings innovation to South Bronx

A shining 15,000 sq. ft. facility celebrated its grand opening in Port Morris on Thursday, designed to provide full-service software testing and development – and to create 150 new jobs.

The new Urban Development Center, home to the technology start-up Doran Jones and the nonprofit IT job training center Per Scholas, carried hopes that it could help usher the neighborhood into the info-tech era.

“The best is yet to come,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The little old Bronx is gonna be the next Silicon Valley.”

Recent employment numbers and business growth lend weight to Diaz’s optimism. Private sector employment in the Bronx increased 7.7 percent between 2007 and 2012, a rate that outpaced all boroughs save for Brooklyn. The number of businesses in the South Bronx grew 25 percent between 2000 and 2011.

New York City is well positioned for a high tech renaissance. An additional 41,000 technology jobs were created in the city between 2007 and 2014, a 57% increase – five times the rate of increase in tech jobs nationally.

A day earlier Mayor de Blasio announced that all of the city’s public schools will offer computer science courses within the next 10 years, a proposal the city’s Chief Technology officer Minerva Tantoco said will “bring many more women and minorities into the tech sector.”

Eighty percent of the 150 employees in the first phase of the project will be graduates of the Per Scholas Software Testing course, a program that enrolls 90 percent of its students from minority groups and all of its students from low-income households. With the capacity to house up to 300 additional employees once construction is finished, the Urban Development Center promises to bring high paying jobs and skilled labor to the long impoverished community.

The partnership between Per Scholas and Doran Jones ensures that most graduates will earn starting salaries of $35,000 per year for analysts and increases of up to $55,000 after completion of a two-year internship. Higher-level management and developer positions offer wages closer to six figures.

“This is an example of how job trainers and employers can partner in ways that don’t just help put people to work, but foster stronger businesses along with more vibrant neighborhoods and communities,” said Angie Kamath, Executive Director of Per Scholas in New York City.

The president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Maria Torres-Springer, said she believes that “the Bronx has never been better positioned to serve as a global model for inclusive economic growth.”

The business and job training partnership established between Per Scholas and Doran Jones is helping to pave the way for businesses looking to set up shop in the neighborhood. With the support of local civic and business leaders, perhaps the South Bronx is poised to be the home of tech’s next big thing?