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43North companies hit a milestone: 400 area jobs

The 44 startups in 43North's portfolio have created more than 400 jobs in the region since 2014, and many of those companies want to hire more.

The business plan competition highlighted the job-creation milestone at Thursday's "Jobcade," a job fair at 500 Seneca presented by Ignite Buffalo. More than three dozen startups and small businesses, including some 43North prize winners, were recruiting for more than 200 jobs and internships.

Eric Reich, chair of 43North's board, said startups are creating a new wave of job openings.

"Today, whether you're a recent college grad, a seasoned professional, or an expat looking to return to Buffalo, there are more options than ever in startups in our community, and 43North is playing an important role in generating those many opportunities," he said.

But startups face the same challenge as bigger employers: recruiting good talent in a tight job market. The unemployment rate for the Buffalo Niagara region was 4.1 percent in December.

Even so, hiring is booming at ACV Auctions. The past 43North champ's local job count has soared to 270 from 50 just two years ago, said Joe Peacock, vice president of engineering. Buffalo-based ACV has 640 employees across all of its operations.

"It's exciting to see us bringing people back, bringing new people to Buffalo, as well as continue to hire more in the city itself," Peacock said.

HiOperator, which provides customer service to other companies, has hired 17 people since arriving in Buffalo early this year, and hopes to have at least 50 employees by year's end, said Liz Tsai, the founder and CEO.

"We've been really surprised pleasantly by Buffalo, and it's been great seeing and just learning from the startup community here."

43North has helped recruit job candidates for HiOperator, and the company itself has held a couple of rounds of open interviews, Tsai said.

"A lot of our best hires are kind of unexpected," Tsai said. "We don't look for a college degree, we don't look for anything in particular in terms of qualifications." One of the company's top-performing employees used to work at a Subway, she said.

CleanFiber, which is launching a plant in Blasdell, is looking to hire about 25 people over a three- to six-month period, said Ryan Carroll, director of human resources and talent acquisition. The company uses recycled corrugated cardboard to make high-performance building insulation.

Carroll said part of CleanFiber's recruiting pitch is the chance to help bring a new product to the marketplace and make an impact at company with growth ambitions.

"We're excited about the energy and enthusiasm that we've gotten from our workforce so far," he said.

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