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Editorial: 43North proves its worth in celebrating 400 jobs

When the 43North business competition began five years ago, few people would have thought that it would achieve the heights – and job creation – we’re now seeing.

If nothing else, this part of the governor’s Buffalo Billion could easily have been written off as a gimmicky “Shark Tank.” No harm, no results. But the opposite has been true.

43North, which began as its own startup idea, has grown into the real thing. Proof of its success is in the recent news that the competition has produced more than 400 jobs in the region since 2014, with more on the way.

Were this an announcement for even one company bringing in 400 jobs over a five-year period, it would be seen as major incentive for this region. Something to celebrate. So it is also true with the business plan competition. It recently touted the job-creation milestone at its “Jobcade,” a job fair at 500 Seneca presented by Ignite Buffalo. In attendance were more than three dozen startups and small businesses, including some 43North prizewinners.

The businesses recruited for more than 200 jobs and internships. The job fair represents another step toward growing and developing the region’s economy with businesses incubating and, if all goes right, remaining right here. It is the kind of opportunity that should draw and retain millennials.

Eric Reich, chairman of 43North’s board, noted that the startups are “creating a new wave of job openings,” while accurately assessing the business plan’s role in producing “more options” in startups in the Buffalo Niagara region.

As with many businesses, these startups are finding it challenging to recruit good talent in a tight job market. The region’s 4.1 percent unemployment figure from December is one of the key reasons. Jobs are looking for applicants.

Some startups have been successful in finding workers: employment at 43North’s past winner ACV Auctions is on the upswing to 270 from 50 only two years ago. Joe Peacock, vice president of engineering at Buffalo-based ACV, said the company has 640 employees across all of its operations. And ACV is not alone.

HiOperator provides customer service to other companies and has hired 17 people since arriving in Buffalo early this year. The company is counting on having at least 50 employees by year’s end, according to Liz Tsai, founder and CEO.

Add CleanFiber, launching a plant in Blasdell, to the list of 43North startups looking to hire. The company wants to hire 25 people over a three- to six-month period.

The success of 43North is something to write home about, but even more so the job creation the business plan competition is creating.

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