Friday, March 08, 2002

The Pinnacle of NYSIA's Summit

Attendees of NYSIA's Software Summit on Friday, March 8, 2002 were treated to information-rich panels in a variety of compelling "tracks" and inspirational talks by New York's leading political figures. Mayor Michael Bloomberg started off the day and the afternoon was wrapped up with a rousing talk by Senator Hillary Clinton.
Bloomberg, ever the CEO, was quick to the point and didn't mince words. His three points, as recounted to yours truly from the dynamic PR 21 team of GM and EVP Renee Edelman, SVP and national practice leader corporate/financial communications Glenn Wiener and VP financial communications A.J. Goodman were:

* The best is yet to come for NYC
* The software industry in NYC is vital to the rebuilding of NY
* As if we're all project managers, we must focus on our users. Think of the clients in all your strategy and plans. A story he referenced to illustrate this point was an event that occurred at Bloomberg's offices once. There were hundreds of registrants who came to end the event. The software program to register everyone was so convoluted and clunky and took so long to administrate, that he pulled the programmer out from his office and forced him to sit at the registration table and enter all the data for the incoming guests. This way the programmer could see for himself how non-user friendly his program was. After an experience like that, the programmer understood it's not about designing a program that he thinks works, but one that works from the user point of view.

Senator Clinton took the podium to equal fanfare, and since I was present for her talk (which was directly after my panel: Dress for Success: Personal Branding as a Competitive Strategy (, I was able to take more notes. In the interest of time (because many of you are aware of our little tragedy (see Publisher's Note) I present Senator Clinton's comments in bullet format.

Senator Clinton began commending all attendees and reminded us that on March 8th, NYC had just come out of a good 24-hours with DC.(referring to the $20 billion promised to NYC from President Bush and a tax incentive bill she passed with Senator Schumer for NYC businesses) She believes these legislative successes will be a "shot-in-the-arm" for NYC businesses.

Many Silicon Alley companies will be eligible for this recent tax incentive bill as it is for businesses with up to 200 employees, which is the case for many firms whether they were small to start with or due to layoffs.

Despite 9-11 and the collapse of the Nasdaq, the tech scene in Silicon Alley, in general, is a resilient and flexible industry. While the attacks occurred at a hard time, these incentives will help NYC recover.

She is working on passing benefits for residents in the downtown area as well.

Senator Clinton sent her condolences to the attendees of the tech conference that was going on in the Windows on the World restaurant on September 11th, the 30 companies that lost people and the downtown residents and businesses in the frozen zone.

She is aware that many of our companies are suffering from a client base that is severely impacted or gone and knows we've suffered with having to lay off employees and had difficulty with some of the government programs that were initially set up. But she's confident that in the future the government and private sector will come together and support this industry.

Senator Clinton thanked NYSIA president Bruce Bernstein for being a conduit and keeping her informed to what's working with government programs for the downtown and Silicon Alley companies. She has worked to revise pay structures, longer pay periods and bigger loans for companies seeking relief.

She's encouraged anyone that has a problem, question or issue to contact her office directly and she'll work on helping you. (Kara Huges. Director of Economic Development for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. 780 Third Avenue, Suite 2601, NYC 10017. 212-688-7775.

Senator Clinton complained about the government's demand for collateral in order to receive a loan and has tried to get a World Trade Relief Office established. This initiative as passed the Senate but not the House of Representatives yet. She has also asked various agencies involved in grants and loans to extend their deadlines for applications. There are nearly 150 companies in computer services-that's $120 million in loans-that she's trying to ease the process for.

Senator Clinton posed "how do we make downtown more tech friendly?" Some of her solutions involved trying to provide flexible loans and thinking 'outside the box' to make Manhattan a magnet for IT. She wants to make this an attractive area for all.

Another initiative Senator Clinton has completed is making unemployment insurance extended another 13 weeks and disaster assistance extended 26 weeks for people who lost their jobs as a result of the WTC disaster. However, not everyone knows about these changes (because they're not reading this newsletter or because they're not following Clinton's activities-so please pass this newsletter on!).

Regarding the issue of Air Quality for Manhattan she recounted the hearing she held with Senator Lieberman last month. As we've heard before from the EPA and others, the "outdoor air is satisfactory, but the people who worked on the Pile, the Gaping Hole and fires-there are problems." They are testing the air for everything they know what to test for but 25% of these first-response workers and those working or living closest to the proximity for a long time have respiratory problems. Furthermore, there still are questions about the quality of indoor air. "We didn't have a system to check indoor air, the EPA isn't set up for this and it was handled individually." As a result of the hearing Senator Clinton has set up a task force to test indoor air. She has a 5-point plan to address this issue. She is also looking into the issue of emissions from diesel trucks that are lined up for blocks, running their engines, waiting to pickup the debris.

Senator Clinton addressed the issue of getting more NYC companies in the Department of Defense procurement process to be considered as a government subcontractor-vendor. Traditionally, NY has not gotten its fair share and she's working to fix that. In the past mostly firms from the DC-Virginia, California or Boston (Route 128) areas have gotten most subcontracting jobs. She is trying to figure out ways to link NY companies up with Department of Defense subcontractors and she encouraged us to attend the Small Business Administration Procurement Conference from May 8th - 10th in DC. Together, with Bruce Bernstein, they are trying to open up doors for NYC software companies.

Senator Clinton supports, in concept, the idea of setting up Centers for Excellence throughout New York State. Areas where she sees these occurring are in Buffalo for biomechanics, Rochester for Photonics, Rome for Cyber Security and Albany for Nanotechnology. She'd like NYC to be a Center for Excellence for Software. "Other states became more competitive to establish their cities as C4Es so we need to become competitive again to maintain a leading edge."

Clinton encouraged us to look at development in other parts of the state to do partnerships in.

Clinton ended with complimenting New York City on how it came together and handled the attacks: "the horrific attack couldn't have been handled any where else than here." She pointed out that we've seen an amazing amount of progress in a very short time. We were told that recovery would've lasted a year, but we're ahead of time and below budget. This spirit is notable and inspiring and will lead a strong robust economy. She's convinced we have what it takes to rebuild New York City and the State. 9-11 deepened and strengthened her commitment to the city and what we believe in. "Because of the work you inhabit and do, you will play a major role in what the city, state and country will look like. Think creatively to make NYC the Center for Excellence in Software for a long time to come!"