At last week’s 43North Finals, each of the eight winning companies had varying reasons and motivations for their potential move to Buffalo.
But Lindsey Tropf took her answer to the question, “Why Buffalo?” in a different direction.
“I won’t have to lose two weeks of development every year fleeing a hurricane,” Tropf said.
Tropf is the founder of Immersed Games, a company educating students through interactive video games. She took home a prize of $500,000 at the 43North Finals competition on Oct. 3 at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The company is originally from Gainesville, Florida and will now move to Buffalo in January.
The answer received laughter from the crowd of 3,000 Buffalonians who are more familiar with condescending rebukes of their weather than genuine praise.
Despite the laughter, Tropf touched on something that should be more important to more companies.
In 2017, Trulia ranked Buffalo the fourth safest region from natural disasters in the U.S. The study included data on earthquakes (concentrated on the west coast), hurricanes (hitting the Southeast), and tornadoes (swirling through the center of the U.S.).
Tropf is not alone in her prioritization of a low-risk region, either.
In 2009, Oath, named Yahoo at the time, chose Buffalo for its new data center. Part of their attraction to the region was the temperate climate and lack of natural disasters. Large data centers invest greatly in expensive and difficult-to-replace technology. They often prefer to locate in risk-averse regions where their greatest assets will be safe.
That technology can also overheat easily. In Buffalo Niagara, Oath found a perfect match for a visionary idea.
“We’re going to use the outside air year-round, and only the outside air to cool the computers,” said Paul Bonaro, Oath's data center facilities manager. “That’s a radical concept in the industry on this scale.”
Oath’s building is designed specifically for Buffalo Niagara’s temperate climate. The data center has fans pulling in the natural air all year to cool the technology housed inside. The climate in Buffalo Niagara works daily to mitigate risk and optimize efficiency for Oath, a global powerhouse.
If a global company like Oath and a cash-strapped startup like Immersed Games both see the value in Buffalo Niagara’s aversion from risk, every company in between should too.