Is Buffalo becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurs? Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul thinks so. During a visit to Buffalo on Friday, Hochul visited with the winners of last year’s business competition sponsored by 43North.
This year’s contest drew more than 11,300 submissions from around the world. In a one-on-one interview with WBFO News, Hochul said she’s convinced the area's business culture has changed.
“What I feel here is that Buffalo has really become a hotbed of innovation in collaboration with assistance from Governor Cuomo and 43 North, but also UB is represented here,” Hochul said. “Other entrepreneurial institutions all coming together for the first time to promote a culture and a new class of individuals to come and innovate here, and ultimately create jobs.”
Hochul also observed college students competing for funding. Students made sandbox business presentations at the Design Innovation Garage (dig). Hochul said cultivating up-and coming student entrepreneurs is a key piece to Buffalo’s economic recovery.
“We’ve seen this in some other areas of the country when we think of San Francisco, Silicon Valley but the next hotspot really is here and this competition is a place where people are coming together today...The panel of experts are asking very well-thought-out questions, but really pressing these individuals to defend the merit of their concepts," she said.
Hochul claims Buffalo has been able to reinvent itself and has seen a 34 percent increase in young talent flock to the area since 2000. She believes Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the region has been a key factor.
More women entrepreneurs are vying for funding in this year’s worldwide competition as well. Hochul said she’s pleased to see more diversity in the submissions.
“What’s significant to me is that the number of woman applicants, the woman-owned businesses is up 50 percent,” Hochul said. “Its become a much more diverse opportunity for us to draw from a lot more people with diverse backgrounds are now applying for this competition and that’s exactly what we want to see here in Buffalo.”
Hochul says there is no denying the success of the 43North competition. She says even those who don’t make the list of finalists are now witnessing an ecosystem in Buffalo that supports new business. Winners of this year’s competition will be announced in October.