September 5, 2016

Grains of Salt (v14): Growing Businesses, Upstate Style

Did you see the slide deck showing the fastest growing private companies in upstate New York?

It was posted on, a page where you can find all kinds of news that's relevant to our neck of the woods (including the really outstretched neck that encompasses the Catskills and the Hudson Valley).

The rankings come from Inc's annual list of the 5,000 fastest growing private firms, based on percentage of growth over the past three years and 2015 revenue.

So, who's on the up and up in Upstate NY?

IT Service companies (nine), advertising firms and manufacturing shops (seven each), and business products/services companies (five) are the most populated categories for the Top 50.

Regionally, thirteen of the companies are in the Capital district; seventeen are in the Finger Lakes area, and another fourteen are in Western NY.  I'm not surprised to see a concentration in the Albany and Buffalo regions, given our Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo's fondness for these areas (the Buffalo Billion and the focus on nano in the Albany area). I hadn't been paying that much attention to what's been going on just to our west, but someone has. Fairport, Henrietta, Pittsford, Rochester, Victor and Webster are all represented.

What's frustrating about the list is the lack of any Top 50 companies in the Central New York area. With the exception of Canastota, there's nothing really close to Syracuse and Onondaga County. Not only that, but a search of the full 5,000 companies reveals not a single company in the Syracuse metropolitan area.

The same is true for 2015. And 2014. And 2013, and 2012, and 2011, and 2010. I didn't go back any further than that, because I was getting depressed.

Are private companies in our  neck of the woods doing something wrong? Are we as a region doing something wrong? How it is possible that not a single company has cracked the list?

Who knows the answer, and (maybe more importantly) what's the solution?