The knock on the 43North business competition has been that winning companies often spent the required one year in Buffalo and then promptly left when their time was up.
The problem is, the main purpose of the competition, funded by the state’s “Buffalo Billion,” is to keep those companies in Western New York. Without that, its value is diminished.
So organizers switched gears, narrowing their search for the best and brightest startups, and setting their sights on companies that would “stick and stay.” It seems to have worked and, so far, shows signs of producing more local jobs, a handful at a time.
We’ll take it.
Even more promising, the fact that these companies have posted – and hired – local talent, is a sign that they have put a stake in the ground here. Through state and local initiatives, let’s pour cement around it and make sure the commitment remains solid.
Looking at the list of companies, as reported in The News, there’s reason to be optimistic.
• Ansari bottles organic water derived from a maple-sapping byproduct and plans on keeping its field operations, distribution, bottling and sourcing local. It also has a bottling contract with West Seneca-based Mayer Bros., a partnership with Try-It Distributing and is sold in more than 1,200 stores including 100 Tops Markets locations. Its field-sales manager is a Buffalo native.
• Bounce Imaging manufactures a 360-degree camera designed for first responders looking for a preview of emergency situations via their smartphones. Customers include the Towns of Cheektowaga and Amherst, the City of North Tonawanda as well as federal law enforcement. The company has hired its first Buffalo-based sales lead with plans to grow its sales operation out of its Buffalo headquarters.
• SomaDetect is a Canada-founded company whose mission is to help dairy farmers determine milk quality. That makes it a perfect fit for the region. It is hiring a data scientist, electrical engineer, embedded software engineer, full stack web developer, mechanical engineer and a UX and UI designer.
There are other, winning 43North startups that snagged some portion of the $1 million grand prize competition, along with other perks. The competition is designed to spark interest in the area and encourage companies to stay here. That may be happening now.