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Building Something from Nothing

Building Something from Nothing

One of my most emotional moments occurred last month.

I was standing by the corner window at Syracuse CoWorks pointing out to a friend the various tech companies that are scattered up and down Warren Street. Beginning with The Tech Garden and it’s numerous tenants, then moving north to AXA Towers with TCG Player and Lake Effect Games, FreshySites and Muckle’s Ink in the Dey Building, Ephesus Technologies in Barclay Damon Tower, Spincar in Icon Tower, and StartFast Code based in Syracuse CoWorks. A couple blocks away were more established employers like EMA, Terakeet, Syracuse Media Group and O’Brien & Gere.

It was a stark reminder of how far the CNY startup community and downtown Syracuse have come since The Tech Garden first opened its doors to the public 12 years ago. At the time, there were no apartments in downtown and five years later, available commercial space had doubled to 1 million sf. What is happening today is the result of a remarkable leap of faith, not just on the part of Syracuse entrepreneurs, but also the larger community of builders, business leaders, public officials and economic developers. All of them have collectively made downtown Syracuse a place where talented people are coming together to live, have fun and build the future economy.

And it isn’t just Syracuse. As I travel across Upstate, I see the same phenomenon taking shape across the region. Whether the community anchor is Dig in Buffalo, the Sibley Building in Rochester, Rev in Ithaca, thINCubator in Utica, NY BizLabs in Schenectady, The Center in Binghamton, Center of Gravity in Troy, or Sharatoga Coworking in Saratoga Springs – a new spirit is in the air.

Seven years ago Martin and I recognized that the only way Upstate NY can compete with larger metro areas is by building stronger connectivity among the region’s entrepreneurs and supporters. As we began the UVC journey, we found partners who realized how valuable connections with peers in other communities could be, and signed up to help our mission. Today, a new picture of Upstate is emerging based on our collective efforts.

– The 2016 Upstate Venture CEO Report confirmed that hundreds of promising high growth companies are found in every community, disrupting every industry, creating high paying jobs and seeking college educate talent to fuel their growth

– 250 high net work individuals have invested $20MM+ in Upstate startups through six angel funds

– The UNY Event Calendar features over a thousand tech, startup and creative focused events a year and more people are making the thruway/I-81 journey to find better connections

– Most of all, 13,000+ people from across the region are following this story via UVC’s blog posts, email newsletters and social media conversations

As the Upstate Ecosystem grows, more resources are required to tell this story, and we need your support. As someone who shares our vision of a connected and prosperous Upstate economy, I am asking you to support UVC with a tax deductible gift today. Proceeds from your donation will also benefit Ithaca-based GiveGab, the platform provider for our campaign.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday on behalf of the UVC team,

Nasir Ali
Cofounder & CEO, Upstate Venture Connect

Help Build Upstate NY Through Entrepreneurship
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Nasir Ali
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