The idea that Buffalo is one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial communities in the country may surprise many, but a recent list compiled by entrepreneur.com of the eight cities whose entrepreneurship communities are booming ranks Buffalo in the number two spot, and for good reason.
The former industrial town has been given much attention by New York Gov. Andrews Cuomo, who initiated the Buffalo Billion fund “to create thousands of jobs and spur billions in new investment and economic activity over the next several years,” according to the initiative’s website. Focusing on the area’s strengths—advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and tourism, among others—the fund has launched the establishment of organizations that offer support to startups, including START-UP NY and 43North.
START-UP NY was created in 2014 to enable new and expanding businesses the opportunity to partner with colleges or universities across the state, giving them access to research laboratories, development resources, and experts in key industries, while operating tax-free for 10 years. The program has created more than 4,000 jobs and allotted over $230 million dollars to startup companies throughout the state (with the University at Buffalo being one of its main partners).
43North, coined “the world’s largest idea competition” in a recent Inc. article, is designed to systematically generate new business ventures in Western New York, support early-stage firm growth, and attract additional venture funding to the region. Since its launch in 2014, the competition has already awarded $15 million dollars in cash prizes to local startups.
Encouraged by the success of its initial investment, New York state recently announced a proposal for a $500 million expansion of the project “to continue building on the renewed economic engines and reinvigorated civic spirit throughout Buffalo and the entire Western New York region.”
With the support of the state and the backing of organizations like START-UP NY and 43North, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike are recognizing that this former factory town is developing a well-earned reputation as a hotbed for startups.