Many are familiar with the 43North competition, which has been awarding millions in prizes to new Buffalo businesses in recent years. Now the state is providing $20 million over four years, including $10 million in prize money, for the new 76West clean energy competition in the Southern Tier.
Chautauqua County Executive Vincent Horrigan is optimistic the effort will produce jobs.
“We have a very good workforce. We’ve been through a period of time here where we’ve lost some of our major industries,” said Horrigan. “ConAgra is an example, [with] hundreds of jobs of people laid off. So we have a ready workforce ready to be put back to work.”
43North attracted applications from all 50 states and 117 countries. Officials in the Southern Tier hope 76West will garner similar interest. Horrigan believes the contest will address one of the region’s key priorities.
“The repowering of energy is our number one top issue that we are currently dealing with in Chautauqua County. Clean energy from coal to natural gas, the governor announced that and it was very very important,” Horrigan said.
The contest will focus on attracting startup companies that offer a clean-energy product or service. In addition to prize money, entrepreneurs will receive support services, including incubator space. To keep those rewards, companies must stay in the area for two years.
The deadline for entries is March 15. The six winners for this year will be announced in July.