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No Amazon? No problem for New York tech boom

Amazon may be pulling the plug on its Queens campus, but New York City's tech boom is likely to endure.

[NEW YORK] Amazon may be pulling the plug on its Queens campus, but New York City's tech boom is likely to endure.

Long before Amazon announced that New York had won a share of its second-headquarters sweepstakes, tech was a rising force in the local economy. Google, which already has thousands of workers in New York, plans to double its workforce in the city and build a US$1 billion campus just south of the West Village. Facebook, Apple, Uber and other companies are also expanding their presences, as is a rising generation of homegrown companies.

Even Amazon itself said on Thursday that it planned to keep adding to its New York workforce.

"Every part of the city is feeling the impact of the technology boom," said William Rudin, a developer and the chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York.

"The geography of where these companies are, it's not just Midtown South or Meatpacking. It's downtown, it's Midtown East, it's going to Brooklyn, it's going to Queens."

In terms of raw economic power, Wall Street still dominates. Its workers earn more than US$400,000 a year on average, close to three times as much as tech workers. As a result, the finance sector accounts for a huge share of city and state tax revenue, and wields disproportionate political power.

Mayors dating back to David Dinkins in the early 1990s have sought to make the city less vulnerable to the booms and busts of finance. Those efforts accelerated after the 2008 financial crisis, which wiped out thousands of jobs on Wall Street. Tech's rapid expansion came at an auspicious time, helping the city rebound much faster than many experts had predicted.

"There was a wide consensus that New York City needed to diversify its economy to add balance beyond Wall Street," said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York-focused think tank.

Companies, such as Google, have been subtle, building up presences in neighborhoods without taking over.

"Tech has become a huge and crucial part of the New York City economy," Mr Bowles said. "I'm not sure that most New Yorkers know that right now."