Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of columns on the Hudson Valley tech community written by members of the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup.
“Is the Hudson Valley the next Silicon Valley?”
I hear that question sometimes after describing to someone the incredible growth of the tech community in our region recently. And the answer, every time, is an emphatic “no.”
There’s a lot that’s good about Silicon Valley, and its output is leaving an indelible mark on our society. But that region and the innovation it’s fostered is the result of a very specific social, geographic and regulatory environment. I’m not sure that it can be replicated. Moreover, I’m not sure that it should be.
I don’t think there should be a “next” Silicon Valley, and I definitely don’t think that it should be the Hudson Valley. A region’s greatest strengths flow from its particular uniqueness — the land, the people, the culture that make it what it is.
We’re not the next Silicon Valley — we’re the first Hudson Valley.
Playing the comparison game is always dangerous, because it loses sight of the fact that every region has its own awesome, if you just know where to look. And one region’s awesome may not fit into the template that works for another region.
The Hudson Valley has a particular aesthetic and a particular worldview that goes well with the world of design and technology. The region attracts people who want to do good while doing well — who want to build things that strengthen communities, and make products with purpose.
The community here is exceedingly friendly and helpful — there’s none of the cutthroat nature that people associate with other tech hotspots. People are excited to hear what others are working on, and are eager to lend a hand.
One of the main ways the community manifests is through the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup, a monthly meeting of technologists, creative workers and enthusiasts who are interested in fostering growth in the local community. With more than 1,700 members, the HVTM’s influence extends far beyond what people traditionally think of as “tech.”
Last summer, there was a lot of overlap between the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup and Stockade FC, the Hudson Valley’s new semi-pro soccer team based in Kingston. A lot of the same people were involved in each, and they shared a similar ethos — the idea that, if there’s something you want to see in the world that doesn’t already exist, the best thing you can do is to create it.
The FDR Library on Jan. 28 hosted a conference, ‘A Day of Women in Tech.’
John W. Barry/Poughkeepsie Journal
The burgeoning tech corridor in the Hudson Valley isn’t just an extension of the tech scene in New York City, and it isn’t limited to the old-school engineering community built here by IBM. It’s a separate creation, organically adopting the traits and values that make our region special. It’s plugged into our region’s zeitgeist. It’s provided a home for digital workers who want to escape the mad rush of New York and San Francisco.
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.
The Hudson Valley tech community has fostered relationships and creative collaborations with local restaurants and breweries, local venues and other local events. It birthed CatskillsConf, an annual retreat in the woods of the Ashokan Center for technologists looking to get out of the city for a weekend. Where else can you find an event that mixes technical presentations with foraging lessons and birds-of-prey demonstrations?
Silicon Valley is a great place to work if you want to build yet another social network that needs to attract 100 million users in a year to be successful. For those who’d rather spend their time being good stewards of a particular niche, the Hudson Valley is a good place to be.
New Paltz resident Jordan Koschei is the lead designer at Agrilyst, a venture-backed startup that helps indoor farms succeed. Reach him on Twitter at @jordankoschei or by email at email@example.com.
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