Tech companies setting up shop here shows effort to rebuild WNY economy is starting to percolate - The Buffalo News
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Tech companies setting up shop here shows effort to rebuild WNY economy is starting to percolate

Companies are knocking at Buffalo’s door trying to get in. Some have come calling from way out of town. They all have been lured here by the coveted Start-Up New York program.

As reported in The News, eight biotechnology and information technology companies are headed here in the program’s first wave. They bring the promise of jobs – up to 200. They also bring hope. That they stay. That they grow. That they prosper, not just for their own bottom lines but for the Western New York economy.

That was the idea when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo came up with the plan to help entrepreneurs and their infant companies. Cuomo is continuing his monumental and much appreciated (by us) and disparaged (by others) effort to revitalize Western New York and upstate with out-of-the-box ideas and focus. Think Buffalo Billion.

It hasn’t been an easy lift for the governor. He has been criticized by some – including his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino – for the program’s cost.

Here’s what we know about the companies the governor just announced will operate in the tax-free zones tied to the University at Buffalo:

They are just the first participants in the state’s economic development plan and include three from outside New York. They will spend $6.4 million setting up shop in office and laboratory space in downtown Buffalo and Amherst. They are also among 12 companies that expect to invest $50 million and hire nearly 400 workers over the next five years in Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca and New York City under the program.

And, yes, they were lured here by some sweet incentives in Start-Up New York. The program eliminates sales taxes and property, business and corporate taxes for an entire decade for companies that open on or near State University of New York campuses. And the program will help not only businesses but employees as well, since they won’t have to pay state income taxes for up to 10 years.

The details of the program are fascinating and exciting for this area, despite the naysayers. And it’s a key development idea for an area short on entrepreneurship. Not all the startups will thrive, but the ones that do will repay the investment many times.

One of the new companies is Aesku Diagnostics, a German medical diagnostics company.

Vijay Kumar, a UB faculty member and Aesku vice president, offered a telling, concise answer to the question of why a German company would consider opening offices in Buffalo: “The answer is Start-Up NY.”

This is only part of the good news going on around here: 43North and 2,600 anxious entrepreneurs hoping to get a piece of a $5 million business plan prize, 500 new IBM jobs heading to soon-to-be-vacant space in Key Center, and the $225 million RiverBend clean energy and technology hub in South Buffalo.

Companies are finally knocking at Buffalo’s door and we’re happy to welcome them in.

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