February 8, 2023 | Robert Campbell
Business leaders, captains of industry and tech startups on the hunt for growth might consider placing their company’s headquarters in Buffalo, New York.
The historic port is one of the best cities in North America to build a corporate presence. It’s an up and coming technology hotspot, or tech hub, which means there’s a thriving commercial ecosystem that’s well stocked with skilled staff, smart ideas, and the steady flow of opportunities to stimulate growth.
Why is Buffalo NY the fastest growing Tech Hub in the United States?
Buffalo is an increasingly important commercial center and is growing faster than Boston, and the Bay Area in San Francisco, and every other tech hub in the USA. Three points listed below encompass a lot of other criteria as we try to understand how and why the boom happening.
- 1. Buffalo has an undervalued and yet increasingly skilled workforce.
- 2. Buffalo has excellent business resources and superb physical infrastructure.
- 3. The city has a centuries-old legacy of hard work, innovation, and offers a high quality of life.
What is a Tech Hub?
Tech hubs are cities or regions where technology companies and especially start-ups cluster together to become new economic infrastructure. Such developments usually require years to germinate and grow but the rewards thereafter are enormous. A successful tech hub can be measured by the number of companies that have spawned because of its existence, and any new products they’ve developed. A tech hub is a huge incubator where ideas are more rapidly developed and streamlined for the market. It’s like gathering everyone needed to bring a concept to reality and putting them all in the same place. Tech hubs educate and encourage new talent and foster new ways of thinking.
1. Buffalo’s increasingly skilled workforce is undervalued in the marketplace.
Buffalo is the second-largest city in the State of New York and the seat of government in Erie County. It’s a once-busy port on Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara River near the United States border with Canada and generally speaking, the region has always been productive. In November of 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the area is to be awarded $25 million from the federal Build Back Better Challenge, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s marquee program under the American Rescue Plan.
The grant will be used to fund the Small & Medium Sized Manufacturer Technology Program at the Buffalo Manufacturing Works where it’s hoped it will stimulate a cycle of growth and innovation and see the implementation of advanced automation in the region. Buffalo Manufacturing Works will get the ball rolling by building an Industry 4.0 ecosystem as part of the arrangement.
Secondly, the money will fund the Goodskills Career Builder, a program to expand manufacturing career training, and third on the list is Northland Corridor Redevelopment fund which will begin to restore the remaining buildings on the Buffalo Manufacturing Works campus to meet an increased demand for advanced manufacturing staff.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is quoted saying how he hopes the money will “boost our tech workforce, revamp our manufacturing, and breathe new life into the Queen City’s legacy as an industrial powerhouse as we move into the 21st century.”
Schumer also helped create the Chips and Science Law, a $10 billion regional tech hub grant disbursement program which will give funding to twenty regions around the country that are selected as tech hubs. Officials with Schumer’s office say Western New York is well placed to compete for a spot on the list after successfully getting the $25 million in Build Back Better funds.
2. Buffalo has good business resources and physical infrastructure.
SmartAsset, a website devoted to helping people make better financial decisions listed Buffalo NY as a Top 10 City for Career Opportunities because the port city has old money and good financial services empowering eager investors. There’s already some world biotech research facilities, sports science businesses, and many educational institutions, some of which are actively driving tech research in public-private partnerships.
Half-a-dozen post-secondary schools, both universities and colleges are located inside Buffalo with even more situated nearby in the surrounding area. There’s D’Youville University, Niagara University, Medaille University, and the University at Buffalo. There’s Canisius College, Bryant & Stratton College, Trocaire College, Villa Maria College and SUNY Buffalo State College. Additionally, Buffalo is close to Daemen University in Amherst, and Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY.
In addition to these institutions there are also some famous business incubators in Buffalo, including 43north on the rise, and Z80 incubator labs.
Both groups provide mentorship and workshops with industry experts and they tend to help life-science, SaaS, and green tech companies.
Anyone seeking affordable office space in the city will be pleasantly surprised with what’s on offer. There are many commercial properties available and homes for workers are easily secured. It was for these reasons Realtor.com named Buffalo NY as the Numero Uno Millennial Homebuyer Market in America in 2022.
The wealth of amenities is due to actions the city managers took a decade earlier. Back in 2012, they formed the Buffalo Building Reuse Project (BBRP) in a response to an oversupply of office space. Most of the empty buildings were class B and C structures with limited potential due to their floor plans, outdated physical systems, and inferior public infrastructure throughout the city. For these reasons and because of a general dearth of opportunities, the rents were among the lowest in the country. One of the key recommendations emerging from the BBRP was the implementation of a ‘downtown master plan’ for redeveloping public infrastructure and amenities. Eleven years later there have been many successful building projects and modernizations, and yet the average leasing cost for office space in Buffalo remains competitive at $17.25 per square foot. Certain other factors such as location, age of building, and lease options can however, raise the fees.
3. Buffalo has a centuries’ old legacy of hard work and innovation.
In the 1890’s, Buffalo NY was called the Queen City because it was the largest and most prosperous population center on the Great Lakes. During World War I, it was the second largest trade port in the northern United States and exported more goods than Chicago and Cleveland combined. Anyone familiar with Buffalo’s economic history will point to the diminished use of the Erie Canal as the reason for the port’s decline. Fast forward seventy-five years and the area still has heavy industry, but now the economy is primarily driven by light manufacturing, high technology, and service-oriented private sector companies. And it’s booming again.
Entrepreneur magazine named Buffalo as the second busiest start-up ecosystem in the United States. Its success is due to the reasons listed above, and its location. Buffalo is handy because it’s so close to so many other US population centers like Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Manhattan, Boston, and Philadelphia. Furthermore, it provides easy access to the Canadian market and is less than an hour from Toronto, which happens to be North America’s fastest growing tech hub.
Being present and participating in a thriving tech hub has ancillary rewards. Buffalo based companies fuel a thriving commercial ecosystem that energizes their businesses in a synergistic environment in which they help the world’s most nimble corporations refine the tools of tomorrow.