Take the H.E.L.M Competition

HR&A designed a high-profile business competition, which attracted 25 new companies to Lower Manhattan’s growing innovation district.

Lower Manhattan has long been the world’s financial capital. But, as the financial sector evolves, creative and tech companies are playing an increasingly vital role in the diversification of city’s economy, bringing new energy to a neighborhood still rebuilding from 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. In 2012 and 2013, HR&A partnered with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to accelerate Lower Manhattan’s transformation by designing and administering Take the H.E.L.M. – Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan, a competition that awards prizes to catalytic new office tenants in the neighborhood, including startups and companies seeking their first office in New York.

Working with NYCEDC, HR&A designed and administered Take the H.E.L.M. HR&A’s responsibilities included:


Design of competition guidelines and evaluation criteria to ensure that companies receiving prizes brought net new jobs to Lower Manhattan in innovative tech and creative industries.

Management and delivery of a website that served as a resource to prospective Lower Manhattan tenants media, and portal for competition entries.

Marketing to prospective applicants using traditional media, social media, and through direct marketing at tech meet-ups, conferences, and other events. The Take the H.E.L.M. website received over 20,000 unique visitors from companies based around the world, attracted nearly 1,400 registrants, and led to several high-profile media articles.

Design and management of a rigorous selection process that included a high-profile panel of judges – led by former Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission Arthur Levitt – with deep experience in venture capital, economic development, and finance.


Over two competition rounds, Take the H.E.L.M. received over 600 applications and awarded $2.25 million in prizes. The competition generated significant promotion for the City and neighborhood, including coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Crain’s New York Business, and Fox Business News.


Take the H.E.L.M. is widely credited with opening the door for tenants that otherwise would not have considered locating in Lower Manhattan. As 2015, 25 H.E.L.M. applicants have signed leases in Lower Manhattan, including Paperless Post, STELLAService, Booker, the Flatiron School, Grapeshot, WeWork, and Rock Shrimp Productions. These new businesses occupy nearly 500,000 square feet of net new office space and support over 1,500 full-time-equivalent jobs.