Ashtabula County Could Follow Buffalo’s Entrepreneurial Strategy Lead

Buffalo gets heavy snow. Ashtabula County gets heavy snow. Buffalo invests in attracting entrepreneurs. Ashtabula “could” invest in attracting entrepreneur and helping keep existing entrepreneurs.

Upstate New York has become an economic development laboratory as state and local actors take varied approaches to revitalizing the former manufacturing powerhouse. One new effort, 43North, is focused on attracting promising startups rather than established companies (New York Times).

43North is a business idea competition that entices entrepreneurs to locate in Buffalo with the promise of cash. Though not a new idea, what’s notable about the competition is the size of its prizes – a $250,000 guaranteed investment and one $1 million grand prize – the largest prize pool for any comparable U.S. program.

Now in its second year, 43North recently announced 11 winners after receiving 11,000 entries this year. Winning companies grant 43North a 5 percent equity stake and in return receive mentorship and free office space.

Winning companies must commit to stay in Buffalo for at least 12 months, with the hope they’ll stay for the long term. Several of 43North’s prizes go to local Buffalo businesses as well.

New York is putting significant dollars behind several ambitious economic development programs. 43North is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s aptly named Buffalo Billion initiative, which is providing $1 billion in an effort to transform Buffalo’s economy. The state will also award $500 million to three of seven regions in a competition some have described as a “Hunger Games” for economic development (North Country Public Radio).

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