In-Depth Report

Diversity Ownership in the New York Space Sector

Patrick Chase, Aayusha Singh, Amrit Roy
Mar 12 2024

Diversity at the ownership level is a key metric when analyzing the health and potential success of the New York space ecosystem. A comprehensive analysis of the 281 New York space and aerospace companies found in the Empire Space Census reveals diverse ownership across the state, but areas to improve as well.

This analysis was conducted primarily by Empire Space Research Administrator Aayusha Singh and Empire Space Research Intern Amrit Roy. Their full methodology and source database is included at the end of this report.

The primary question was to identify which of the listed companies fit into one or more of the following categories: Veteran Owned, Minority Owned, or Woman Owned (VMW owned). The answer to this question informs much about accessibility and upward mobility in the New York space ecosystem. Reducing barriers allows multiple paths to business ownership for New Yorkers from all walks of life and is critical to unleashing the full economic potential of the New York space ecosystem.

The goal of this analysis is to understand the current VMW ownership dynamics so that resources can be targeted and programming identified to create more pathways to ownership in New York’s space and aerospace sector. There are links to resources available for VMW owned companies at the end of this report.

Topline Analysis

There are some overall figures that highlight the basic conclusions from this analysis:

* 52 out of 281 companies fit into at least one VMW category, or 18.5% of the total.
* 32 out of 281 companies are Woman Owned, 11% of the total entries and 62% of all VMW companies.
* 17 out of 281 companies are Veteran Owned, 6% of the total entries and 36% of all VMW companies.
* 5 out of 281 companies are Minority Owned, 2% of the total entries and 8% of all VMW companies.
* 1 out of 281 companies is owned by a Woman Veteran, 1% of the total entries and 2% of VMW companies.
* 2 out of 281 companies are owned by a Minority Woman, 1% of the total entries and 4% of VMW companies.

One of the major takeaways from these figures is the very low rate of Minority Ownership of space and aerospace companies in New York, even compared to Veteran or Woman owned company rates. These numbers are much lower than statewide demographic trends, regardless of which metric you compare against.

According to the 2020 Census, New York is one of the most diverse states in the nation, and New York City is the most linguistically diverse place on Earth.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

However you slice the numbers, the 2% minority ownership in New York’s space ecosystem is dramatically below their ~50% representation among the broader New York population.

The 11% ownership rate by women is obviously far below their 52% of New York’s overall population.

According to the New York Office for the Aging there are 838,000 veterans in New York, which would be just shy of 10% of the state’s overall population of 8.498 million. The US Department of Veterans Affairs put’s the number at 5.5%. Both of these figures are roughly in line with the 6% veteran ownership in New York’s space ecosystem.

Regional Analysis

A breakdown of this data by Region reveals a high concentration of VMW-Owned space and aerospace firms in Long Island and NYC.

Source: Empire Space

Long Island is home to just shy of 60% of all VMW owned companies tracked. This compares to just 41% of the total Empire Space Census companies located in Long Island, making Long Island home to a significantly disproportionate concentration of VMW owned companies.

The 16.7% share represented by NYC is almost exactly in line with the region's 16.4% share of total Census companies. Every other region is underrepresented in terms of VMW ownership, an area that should receive specific focus and attention from industry stakeholders and economic development organizations in those regions.

Demographic data filtered on the defined regions is not currently available, and thus could not be compared to these results. Producing these demographic datasets for comparison is a future area of research.

Sub-Sector Analysis

The breakdown of VMW owned companies by industry sub-sector reveals some interesting trends as well as future questions and action items.

Source: Empire Space

The graph reveals a dominance in Aerospace Manufacturing among VMW companies, with other prominent sub-sectors including Electronics & Telecommunications, Aerospace Support, and Space Force/Military firms. There is additional diversity from companies specializing in Space Data, Optics, Education, and Media.

This data is also in line with the regional data from the previous section. Long Island is home to much of New York’s aerospace manufacturing capacity, so the correlation among VMW firm ownership and Aerospace Manufacturing companies is not unexpected.

Comparative Analysis

It is important to place these figures in a broader context wherever possible. There is not a carbon copy analysis from other states available, but it is possible to compare these numbers to national VMW ownership figures that illuminate where New York ranks regarding these metrics.

A 2021 survey from the Aerospace Industry Association showed that among end-use aerospace manufacturers, 24% of employees were women, 8% were Hispanic/Latino, and 6% were African American. This is not a clean comparison to the Empire Space datasets, but the figures are helpful benchmarks for future analysis.

A 2021 Evona analysis found that only 17% of C-level positions (Founders, Owners, and Entrepreneurs) in the New Space industry were filled by women. The 11.07% share of New York space companies owned by women would put the state below the national average, although this is not a clear comparison as the Evona definition is broader than the one used by Empire Space.

A full comparative analysis is not possible with existing data available, but it appears New York has work to do to become a national leader in diverse and inclusive leadership in the space industry.

Future Research

This analysis has prompted a number of important and interesting follow up questions that Empire Space will explore in the future.

* How has the regional breakdown of diverse ownership changed over time, and how will it change in the future?
* How has the ownership breakdown among sub-sectors changed over time, and how will it change in the future?
* What is the hierarchy of barriers faced by VMW owners and potential owners, and how can those barriers be reduced?
* How can new VMW ownership in space and aerospace be stimulated in regions outside of NYC and Long Island?

The answers to these questions will inform the need for outreach, support, and programming that will reduce barriers and broaden the circle of company ownership within the New York space ecosystem.

Resources for VMW Companies

There are a number of programs available for existing Veteran, Minority, or Woman Owned companies, and Empire Space will work to continuously expand this list.

* NASA and the US Commerce Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in December of 2023 with the purpose of connecting minority owned companies with NASA acquisition and development opportunities. Please explore the Minority Business Development Agency homepage, and reach out to them with questions as well.
* NASA operates the Women-Owned Small Business Program, which aims to foster women-owned small businesses in the space and aerospace industry.
* Both New York City and Empire State Development (state-level) offer resources for minority and women owned businesses.
* Empire Space offers a table of all NASA MUREP (Minority University Research & Education Project) that may serve as a basis for private sector and academic partnerships that can begin to address the disparities highlighted in this report.

If you have suggestions for additional resources to add to this list, please contact us at Please check back to this article as we will update with additional resources and support for VMW owned companies.

Sources & Methodology

The project was conducted from an updated list from the Empire Space Census of all space and aerospace companies in New York. The primary operational question was: Is this company owned by a woman, a veteran, someone of a racial or ethnic minority, or any combination of those demographics?

Racial and ethnic minority definitions were sourced from New York State’s MWBE Certification Eligibility Requirements.

The data was primarily sourced from official company websites or publications. Significant data was also collected from a variety of reputable platforms and databases, including:


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