Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on repeat, telling people over and over again: “The Hudson Valley tech scene is vibrant and growing.”

As a tech person myself (whatever “tech person” means), it’s easy for me to see — I was there as the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup expanded from 50 members to 2,500, and when the influx of New York City tech talent began. But sometimes I doubt that anyone else can see it. Who would believe that our little patch of farmland and forest can become a viable alternative to the talent and energy of a New York City or a San Francisco?

The truth is, we’re not trying to compete with those places: Silicon Valley will always be Silicon Valley. We’re not the next Silicon Valley — we’re the first Hudson Valley. Our niche is different; we can be an oasis for a slower, more humane, more deliberate type of tech company.

As I wrote in the Poughkeepsie Journal a while back:

Ten years from now, I won’t be surprised if the Hudson Valley is a byword for a startup culture with a particular ethos — small farms, slow food, good neighbors and thoughtful technology.

An Upstate Outpost of the NYC Tech Scene

It’s one thing to believe that the Hudson Valley will someday be a draw for tech workers who want a change from the usual grind, but it’s another thing to see it validated by an organization as reputable as Grand Central Tech.

And yet, on Wednesday evening, that’s exactly what I saw happen. I was at the Senate Garage in Kingston for the Grand Central Tech North welcome event, inaugurating the summer when 150 participants in a prominent Manhattan startup accelerator will decamp to Ulster County to do their work in the Hudson Valley.

It’s a genius idea for both the accelerator and for Ulster County. The tech folks get a chance to escape the sweltering New York City summer and do their work from someplace with grass and sky. Ulster County gets to show off everything the Hudson Valley has to offer, in the hopes that some of the tech folks will discover that they really can do their jobs from a place like Kingston and decide to stay.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Sage Ramadge of Grand Central Tech
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein with Grand Central Tech’s Director of Social Impact, Sage Ramadge

What is Grand Central Tech?

Grand Central Tech (which recently changed its name to “Company,” which will be much harder to Google) is a tech accelerator based in Midtown Manhattan, right across from Grand Central Terminal. Their mission: provide startups with the resources they need to succeed, from office space to legal advice to accounting services.

Accompanying their recent name change is a major expansion of their New York City presence: they’re currently renovating their 1.1 million square foot building, turning it into startup-friendly office space complete with a library, coffee shop, restaurant, and everything else a hip 2018 company populated by 20-somethings could want.

The new lobby of Company, formerly Grand Central Tech
The lobby for Company (formerly Grand Central Tech), currently under construction.

Even more exciting is their outpost in Kingston. Rather than spend the summer in sweltering Manhattan, 150 employees of Grand Central Tech accelerator companies will be decamping to Kingston, where they’ll be working from coworking space in the Senate Garage. They’ll get to experience life in the Hudson Valley, as well as meeting local tech workers and attending talks every Wednesday highlighting the incredible creative energy in the region.

What’s the upshot?

You already know about the incredible creative energy in the Hudson Valley. We have a growing tech scene, vibrant arts scene, incredible food scene. Bringing more talent into this pool strengthens the economy, introduces new ideas, and prevents stagnation.

I’m so excited to see what comes of Grand Central Tech North. Projects like this go a long way in demonstrating the Hudson Valley’s value as a viable alternative to the hustle and grind of city life. We’ve got good wifi, talented people, and plenty of trees — what more could a tech person want?

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