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Hudson Valley Tech Industry Sees No Signs of Stopping


Last Updated: 06/20/2018 10:41 am

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The Meetup has grown each year, and now its member count sits at about 2,400. Members meet monthly to share their stories, whether about their startups, their issues with code and hacking, or what they hope to do next. The group also throws an annual event, Catskill Conf, which spreads out discussions and talks over a full weekend, adding group hikes, drink receptions, dancing and bonfires at the Ashokan Center. The keynote speaker at the 2016 Catskill Conf was Foursquare's Crowley, who already owned a home in the Kingston area. He used his presentation to tell the Catskill Conf crowd about his newest venture, Stockade FC, the soccer club that had just launched.

Crowley wrote in 2016 about his decision to launch the club, which was driven by his own personal belief system: "If there's something you want to see in the world and it doesn't yet exist, go out and make that thing." He simply wanted soccer in the Hudson Valley, a place he loved for its entrepreneurial spirit—thanks in part to Hudson Valley Tech Meetup—and the personal connections he made with creative community builders.

"Dennis is so awesome. He is just a really, genuinely nice person," says Kate Bradley Chernis, the co-founder and CEO of Lately, a digital dashboard for marketing. Bradley Chernis enrolled in the Grand Central Tech accelerator program in 2016 and now rents space in its Manhattan office, but Lately's main office is Bradley Chernis' home in Stone Ridge. She, like Kaposhilin, Crowley, and so many others, has been heavily engaged in the growth of the Hudson Valley as a tech hub. "I want to be able to enjoy where I'm living and working. We have the same quality of food as in New York City, why can't we have the same quality of employees?" says Bradley Chernis. "Anything I can do to perpetuate that here I'm trying my damndest."

Chernis just hired a vice president of sales who's from New Paltz and a customer success manager from Rhinebeck. She also speaks at Hudson Valley Tech Meetup events, including last year's Catskills Conf.

A New Kind of Tech Economy

Lately and Grand Central Tech are just two of the many tech-focused businesses, organizations, and workers finding a home in the Hudson Valley. Dragon360 has been around for 11 years. The Hudson Valley Startup Fund aims to provide seed capital to entrepreneurs leading with a community improvement focus. Hudson Valley Talent Base is a new website created by Jordan Koschei and made for local people to share projects. There's Brad Smith, who co-founded DIY website builder Virb and then brought his podcasting platform Simplecast to the Hudson Valley. There's Sophie Kravitz, the supplyframe director of product at Hackaday, which hosts hacking projects for tech engineers. And Dr. Kate Stone of Novalia, whose groundbreaking technology turns print paper into interactive material by use of touch-sensitive ink technology, is looking to move to the region.

The movement of tech workers to the Hudson Valley doesn't seem to be slowing down. Dutchess County in March secured an agreement between IBM, Dutchess Community College, Marist College, and Vassar College to create the "Innovation Quad" in Poughkeepsie. This partnership aims to foster an infrastructure for startups to thrive; its first success story is Telistat, which uses data to bring greater efficiency to restorative care in hospitals and nursing facilities. The Innovation Quad, says Dutchess County Assistant County Executive for Economic Development Ron Hicks, gives Poughkeepsie an outsized opportunity to grow as a tech hub supported by major private educational institutions. "We believe it will attract millennials and those who are priced out of the five boroughs," says Hicks. "We see great potential in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County in advancing tech and innovation."

Meanwhile, Ulster County is courting New York City-based tech entrepreneurs. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said 30 tech companies took part in a most recent bus tour, and five have relocated to the area. Hein believes the arrivals will continue because the business model is more sustainable than the past, when communities relied on one massive corporation to set up shop locally. "I watched this cycle wane with IBM leaving [Ulster County in 1996], and then watched a completely new kind of tech economy emerge," says Hein about the current landscape, which is now focused on community hubs, soccer clubs and bonfires at the Ashokan Center. "It's, to me, nothing short of extraordinary."

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