NYC Grows as Hub for Small Digital, Entertainment Businesses

New York City is some 3,000 miles away from Hollywood and Silicon Valley. But Manhattan and the nearby boroughs are a busy production hub for media, entertainment and technology ventures.

Dozens of prime-time episodic series and films, for example, were based in NYC last year. And creative, tech-focused firms are transforming the city.

Recognizing NYC's growing role in these fields, the city and mayor's office have launched a $500,000 grant program for local, small companies that straddle media, entertainment and digital. The program will help related small businesses train employees in emerging technologies and platforms.

"The media and technology sector is one of the fastest growing in NYC, employing more than 300,000 people and accounting for $30 billion in annual revenue," said Rob Walsh, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

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Roughly $65,000 was awarded to two businesses in late 2012 — Bureau Blank and TangentVector.

Bureau Blank, for example, plans to use its grant money to train its 15 employees on design, web development and product management among other skills. Bureau Blank is a design agency that helps clients create a brand presence on traditional and digital platforms. Clients include nonprofits and universities such as New York University.

NYC's reputation as an epicenter for many sectors persuaded founder Daniel Blank to plant a company stake in Chinatown in lower Manhattan—not Silicon Valley or Washington, D.C., for example, where tech and government remain the dominant industries.

"New York City is really just a hub for so many different industries," Blank said. "There's no city like New York."

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New York City: The New Startup Capital?

Sure New York is a financial capital. But how about the city as a startup capital? According to website SeedTable, 127 startups were founded in NYC during the last 12 months.

Major tech players are also growing their presence here. Google has expanded offices in west Chelsea, and recently announced it will offer free, public Wi-Fi in the neighborhood.

Across the river in downtown Brooklyn, more than 500 creative and tech firms are occupying buildings that have been vacant for years. And nearly half of them are expected to at least double in employment in the next three years, said Walsh of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

Blank, who founded his company in 2004, said it has been energizing to witness NYC's creative, digital community grow.

"There didn't use to be much of a community for us. Our closest peers were in advertising but that industry has been in NYC forever," Blank said. "We're a much younger company, focused on the digital world. It's exciting because it feels like we have a peer community now."

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Written by CNBC's Heesun Wee. Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee