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Etsy to expand in Dumbo Heights complex

Etsy on the make in Dumbo

The Brooklyn Paper
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A company that helps do-it-yourselfers market their wares online is expanding faster than we can crochet a beer cozy.

Etsy is planning to move a few blocks from its current Dumbo home into new, bigger digs in the planned Dumbo Heights development inside the former Watchtower buildings at the foot of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. The added elbowroom will allow the craft juggernaut to ramp up its operations, a company rep said.

“We believe this new building will help us attract and retain better talent here in Brooklyn and accelerate growth,” said Etsy spokeswoman Sara Cohen.

Founded in a Fort Greene apartment in 2005, the corporation currently employs 350 people at its headquarters on Washington Street between Front and Water streets. It plans to move around the block in 2016, becoming an anchor tenant for the properties formerly owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that developer Kushner Companies hopes will become a hub for technology companies, and growing by 300 workers by 2019. Etsy is getting a fat $5-million in state tax breaks for its trouble.

The government giveaway is part of an economic development program meant to encourage job creation and is contingent on Etsy keeping the new positions in the state.

“They don’t get anything if they leave New York,” said Elizabeth Bird, from Good Jobs NY, a subsidy watchdog. “They can’t take the money and run.”

Politicos often offer the get-out-of-taxes-free cards to entice out-of-state companies to move to New york, but Etsy was already established in the borough and never considered leaving, according to Cohen.

“Brooklyn is our roots and we believe it is our future to remain headquartered here,” she said. “We didn’t threaten to take our current jobs elsewhere or move our headquarters out of state.”

The question with Etsy, which has eight offices around the world, was about where it would add jobs.

“It’s always easier to recruit engineering talent in SF,” Cohen said, referring to San Francisco.

Per the company’s plan, it will add 40 positions at its Hudson, New York office in addition to the Brooklyn slots.

A neighborhood business booster was unconcerned about the government handout, saying that the company deserves whatever it gets.

“Etsy is the quintessential creative technology company,” said Alexandria Sica, executive director of the Dumbo Improvement District. “And it’s one of the great success stories of Brooklyn over the last decade.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reader Feedback

The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Etsy is on the leading edge of the creative economy, and it's very hipsterish. I can see this company expanding from crafts to fine art, giving a boost to the hundred or so art galleries in the borough. Five million bucks of our money is well spent on this incentive. Very well spent.
May 15, 2014, 8:47 pm
JAZ from Hunting Redbeards says:
It's ridiculous that etsy is getting millions of dollars in state tax breaks. They are trading off the 'Brooklyn' brand and you could damn well guarantee that they aren't about to leave and set up shop somewhere else.
May 16, 2014, 8:59 am
ty from pps says:
Umm... Jaz, you exemplar of elightenment... Please tell us exactly how this ostensibly pure-information technology company is "trading off the 'Brooklyn' brand" by setting up shop here originally and expanding their operation over the next few years in Brooklyn and in the Hudson Valley?

Umm... and what is your point? The company spokesperson said they had no intention of leaving... you read the article, right? BUT what they did say is that it would be easier to recruit engineers in the SF Bay area... meaning, *That's* where the expansion could be. You do know companies can operate in multiple cities, right?
May 16, 2014, 9:52 am
ty from pps says:
scoldscoldscold - I have to get up so early in the morning to scoldscoldscold
May 16, 2014, 10:45 am
ty from pps says:
Is asking for clarification about a stupid comment considered "scolding"? Hmm... OK. (And is 9:52am "early in the morning"?)
May 16, 2014, 11:25 am
The Chooch from The Brooklyn Brand says:
WAAAAAH!!! Etsy stole my welfare check! WAAAAH! How come they get something and I don't! Because they do something, Jay, and you don't ... It's called Mookanomics 101.
May 16, 2014, 3:25 pm
The Chooch from The Brooklyn Brand says:
JAZ ... whatever.
May 16, 2014, 3:26 pm

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