It seems cheesy to call it Silicon Tower, but 43North’s decision to move itself – and many of the startup businesses it funds – into Buffalo’s tallest building invites the nickname.
43North is the Shark Tank-style business competition aimed at luring and nurturing startup companies in Buffalo. The organization announced last week that it is moving from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the 38-story Seneca One tower, where M&T Bank Corp. has leased 11 floors and plans to move 1,000 “technologists” there in the next three to five years.
43North will take the 24th floor, likely beginning in December, more than doubling the organization’s space. Currently, 16 of the competition’s 44 winners are located at 43North’s offices. Also making the move with 43North: TechStars Buffalo, a global startup incubator. Add in this year’s competition winners, and Seneca One tower will have an even more vibrant entrepreneurial mix. Alex Gress, executive director at 43North, wants to create density and have “people physically colliding.”
Named for the line of latitude that crosses Western New York, 43North is an initiative of the state’s Buffalo Billion economic development program. The contest, now in its sixth year, promises entrepreneurs a chance at a pot of start-up money. It also promises “free working space, a state income tax exemption and advice from mentors,” says Gress. In return, winners must remain in Buffalo for at least a year.
The competition has been a splash from the start. This year’s edition has attracted 528 entries, up from 485 last year and 504 in 2017. The final, somewhat theatrical event, held at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, can be as electrifying for the audience as it is nerve-wracking for the contestants.
Seneca One owner Douglas Jemal says 43North’s move into the tower will help attract even more tech firms. Jemal has done a remarkable job reviving Buffalo’s tallest building, which was all but empty when he bought the tower three years ago. Filling it with tech workers is even better. The more Buffalo becomes a technology center, the better our economic prospects in the 21st century.
Jemal, M&T and 43North are all doing what is right for their businesses. But they are also doing great good for Buffalo.