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By Rick Johnson

Buffalo’s stock is rising. That fact is evident in various economic indicators that offer an objective view of how the region has gone from stagnant to sterling in just a few short years. But even without the formal metrics, all one really need do is to engage in conversation with virtually any Buffalonian at a local pub to gauge the positive shift in perspective among those who actually live here. Most of us intuitively sensed it, but the results are now in and it’s official: Buffalo has become … cool.

We love seeing those multistory cranes downtown and the boom in housing, hotels, retail and mixed-use space construction. The medical corridor has helped change the face of downtown. Relatively new attractions like Canalside, Larkinville and the outer harbor draw us in the summer months while Harborside and other emergent cold-weather attractions will genuinely make us a year-round destination. And we’ve become a bike-friendly city!

Meanwhile, our core inventory of amazing architecture, park lands, an outsized cultural community and, of course, our abundance of great dining options – which now include a growing list of food trucks – all combine to create a quality of life that makes Buffalo a very appealing place to live … and work.

A few months ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rolled out the START-UP New York initiative, which offers an unprecedented package of incentives for new and expanding businesses. Think about it: Employees will pay no state or local taxes, no sales taxes, no property taxes, no franchise fees – and businesses may apply for other incentives as well. Needless to say, this program has caught the eye of a great many entrepreneurs, locally, nationally and internationally.

To qualify, all an eligible business or start-up need do is to locate its operation within designated space affiliated with a SUNY institution. So in effect, a business not only gains the impressive fiscal benefits built into Cuomo’s package but can then multiply this advantage by capitalizing on the resources and the synergies gained from working with the faculty, staff and students of our SUNY institutions and select private colleges in the region.

SUNY Buffalo State is developing a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in which new, sustainable enterprise can grow and thrive. “Launch Buffalo” synchronizes the commercial needs of prospective businesses with our academic mission and educational programs. Joining our energized campus community will create unique opportunities for participating businesses while student interns and faculty can grow and develop in unexpected ways.

Launch Buffalo will create new jobs and innovative outcomes that will contribute toward the growing wellness of our Buffalo economy. How cool is that?

Rick Johnson is manager of project development and economic advancement at the SUNY Buffalo State Office of Sponsored Programs.