Google to open ‘pop-up’ digital training center

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Community Board 4 member David Warren asked Google representative Aisha Taylor a question about the new Grow with Google NYC Learning Center coming to Chelsea. Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Amazon may be hightailing it for the hills, but Google is staying — and still investing — in New York City.

Google representatives told a Community Board 4 Arts, Culture, Education and Street Life Committee meeting on Monday night that the Grow with Google NYC Learning Center will open in Chelsea in late March or early April.

It will be located in the ground floor of Google’s flagship office building at 111 Eighth Ave., between W. 15th and W. 16th Sts.

The facility is part of the Grow with Google Tour, in which temporary learning centers are being opened up across the country to help give people economic opportunities.

The learning center will offer free digital-skills training, coaching and classes in order to help people thrive in the online economy.

However, the center will only be open for five months. This will be the lengthiest duration that a Grow with Google Tour space has stayed in one spot.

The Chelsea learning center is really a pilot program to see how New Yorkers respond to Google’s programming.

The tech giant’s representatives, Carley Graham Garcia, head of external affairs in New York City, and Aisha Taylor, community engagement manager, spoke briefly at the C.B. 4 meeting and presented a slideshow about the facility.

According to Garcia and Taylor, Google wants the learning center to serve a variety of people, including teachers, students, small business owners, startup developers and those in the job market.

The learning center, which will only be around for five months, will be located in Google’s flagship building at 111 Eighth Ave.

Courses on creating a compelling résumé, online safety and getting started with spreadsheets, plus computer science workshops, are just some of the planned offerings.

“We will be getting the word out with local community partners,” Garcia assured, in response to a question on how Google would promote the space and its programs.

She added that Google would be working with national and community partners “on getting templates and fliers and social [media] that they can post.”

“We’ll also do a little bit of paid media,” Garcia said.

Early last year, Google announced the $2.4 billion purchase of the Chelsea Market building and shared plans to lease additional space at Pier 57 with hopes of moving in by 2020. More recently, Google announced plans to expand into three locations in Hudson Square, including the southern portion of the St. John’s Building, which is being renovated and expanded by Oxford Property Group.

According to the company’s Web site, Google has contributed more than $150 million in grants and employee-matched giving to New York nonprofit institutions. The company recently donated $1.5 million to support the Stonewall National Monument Preservation Project, partnered with the New York City Public Library System to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to public school students and families without Internet access, and helped establish the West Side Community Fund, to provide microgrants to local nonprofits and community organizations. Google has also funded programs like MotherCoders NYC.