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University at Buffalo’s LaVigne named CEO of Launch NY

Marnie LaVigne, an economic development leader at the University at Buffalo, was named chief executive officer of Launch NY, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote startup activity in upstate New York.

LaVigne, associate vice president for economic development at UB, will leave the university and take over as CEO in July, according to a joint announcement by UB and Launch NY.

The organizations said LaVigne will focus on “repositioning the young nonprofit organization to coordinate with evolving economic development efforts that target entrepreneurship as a key to the region’s economic future and job market.” Among the programs that are part of Launch NY is the 43North business plan competition that is a component of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative for the region.

Launch NY board member Jordan Levy said 43North will help make Buffalo a “hotbed” for innovative new companies.

“Marnie is the right person at the right time to make sure we have all the key ingredients to help those companies hit the ground running,” Levy said.

LaVigne succeeds Al Culliton, who had served as interim CEO since retiring from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. Culliton filled a vacancy created by the December departure of Launch NY’s first CEO, John Seaman, whose contract was not renewed. Launch NY has received $8 million in public and philanthropic funding.

UB said LaVigne has guided the university’s economic development efforts since 2005. Before joining the university, LaVigne had 20 years of experience in the private and public sectors, UB said. LaVigne is one of the founders of Launch NY and is a member of its board.