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Greg Pokriki

Many college students are headed back to their campuses this week, hauling mini fridges and extra-long mattress pads into dorm rooms for the semester.

Buffalo Niagara is no exception to move-in day, with 21 colleges and universities in the region. In any given year, about 106,000 students enroll to learn from our respected academic institutes, studying in a wide range of disciplines. The role that these academic institutions play in economic development is significant.


The thousands of students graduating from these educational establishments are the future of our workforce. They will in short time punch the clock and do the work of the companies powering our economy. These former students are eager to work and have degrees in disciplines that companies expanding or relocating in the region are in need of.

The potential in these individuals also lies more macroscopically in innovation. The students in our colleges will solve some of our most trying problems. Some of them will solve problems we don’t even yet know we have. That’s part of the reason why University at Buffalo (UB) sponsors Bright Buffalo Niagara every year. It’s a pitch competition for startup companies that embody the idea of potential. Many of the colleges and universities in our region emphasize their commitment to innovation. The professors and researchers also have robust intellectual capital. This combination engines our economy forward.

Even those students not yet in high school are contributing to this, as well. Read our story of a Batavia school’s workforce development program, and how they’re training their fourth graders for the future of industry. Both students with mini fridges in their hands and the ones with crayons are our region’s future.


Other educational partnerships are key to the region’s economic development landscape, as well. Many colleges and universities have economic development offices and incubators. Contrary to popular belief, their reach goes past new startup companies, as well. Research and development capital is great for established companies. They constantly host speaking series spreading knowledge of our landscape. They all also work closely with IDAs and municipalities. Allegany County, for example, has put a huge effort into leveraging the technological advances of Alfred University. Invest Buffalo Niagara win Sentient Science also heavily credits UB for its location decision in Buffalo. They do extensive work off the super computer and are located in UB’s Butler Mansion.


On an institutional level, Buffalo Niagara colleges and universities play a large role in incentivizing business. Through START-UP NY, businesses can accelerate their growth. The program allows a new or expanding business to operate for 10 years tax-free. In return, they partner with a local college or university in some capacity, locating on or near the campus and often times hiring graduates or students of that school. Along with the tax incentive, these businesses are given access to cutting-edge laboratories and experts in key industry insights. Invest Buffalo Niagara win BakUSA is a perfect example of university partnerships, leveraging UB for the START-UP NY program.


While our bright young minds are headed back to school, it’s important to understand the role our educational institutions play in economic development. The answer: A big one.

Our students are now off learning. You should too!

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About Us

Founded in 1999, Invest Buffalo Niagara represents the eight counties of Western New York. We are the region’s nonprofit, privately funded economic development organization focused on job creation.