Buffalo-Niagara Talent Initiative

Talent Attraction

Startup and tech job seekers attend a recent JobCade event sponsored by 43North and Forge Buffalo.

About the Initiative

The $12 million Buffalo-Niagara Talent Initiative helps cultivate the tech workforce fueling Western New York’s continued growth. This new initiative is designed to train, attract and retain tech talent that will continue to power the region’s economic rebirth.   New York State is committing up to $8 million in funding to jump start these programs and is engaging with foundations and the private sector to further develop and fund the Initiative.

New programs will focus on improving the tech ecosystem through a three-pronged approach aimed at addressing the sense of urgency for adding tech workers to the labor pool.  The three-pronged approach includes:

  • Upskilling and reskilling unemployed and underemployed individuals for entry-level jobs in tech, as well as upskilling mid-level tech professionals and recent college graduates for more senior positions.  Partnerships with industry will provide new training opportunities and job placement assistance upon completion of training.
  • Retaining graduates of local colleges and universities by establishing programs that provide better connections to industry through internships and networking opportunities.
  • Attracting tech workers from outside of the region to increase the population and labor pool through: (1) working with Forge Buffalo on providing resources for job seekers and employers in startups and small tech companies to connect and hire; (2) creating a program through which tech students in colleges and universities outside of the region can spend time in the region connecting and working with local employers and enabling the opportunity for those students to consider Western New York a place to live and work after graduation; and (3) development of content and use of digital marketing with Invest Buffalo Niagara and the “Be in Buffalo” platform to expand the reach of the WNY region’s tech sector-focused talent recruitment efforts.
Project Status

March 2020 - Empire State Development launches the $12 million Buffalo-Niagara Talent Initiative.

March 2020 - To coordinate the multiple initiatives, ESD partners with Tech Buffalo, a not-for-profit with the mission of producing 5,000 new technology professions in the WNY region.   As a way to keep from duplicating efforts with other organizations, Tech Buffalo will instead work to coordinate activities across the investment portfolio, develop a website that serves as a portal for overarching information on the Buffalo tech scene, host events and provide coordination between companies and job seekers, and implement a tech-specific talent attraction and retention agenda that cuts across the three strategies on behalf of ESD.  Through their work and across the portfolio, ESD and Tech Buffalo are seeking to increase outreach to local college students and companies, improving student awareness of post-grad opportunities; improve access of non-WNY residents to job opportunities in the region and leading them to consider WNY as a place to relocate; increase access of companies to job seekers; and grow the regional tech sector and average wages in WNY in the sector.

Growing the Region's Labor Pool

Driven by increased digitalization and automation across industries, companies around the globe are facing a technology talent shortage that will continue to expand in the coming years. Industry in Western New York has identified an urgent need to fill a large number of vacant tech positions in a labor pool that is already starved for participants.  Creating, attracting, and retaining talent with modern technology skills will be a key differentiator for the region to be successful. Through this new initiative, funding will be provided for new programs that seek to increase the tech talent pool and help Western New York continue to play a part in rebuilding its economy.