University at Buffalo has an interesting dilemma on the table that will have a big effect on a local business no matter what the final decision is. UB has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to land a car sharing service on campus. When it comes to car share, there are few heavy hitters in the industry. Some of those companies are placing bids to land the deal. One local company has also entered the ring – Buffalo CarShare – a company that was founded by seven UB students and was a finalist (while all seven were at the university, six are currently alums) in UB’s Panasci Award.
It would be fair to say that the national companies have the financial ways and means to win the bid, especially when talking about potential sponsorships, donations and other kickbacks that Buffalo CarShare could never afford to offer. When it all comes down to brass tacks, Buffalo CarShare has the ability to provide UB with the allotted cars to meet demand (although two of the cars do border the campus, but are accessible to students).
It will be interesting to see which company will land the final bid – if Buffalo CarShare gets it, you can bet that the infusion of clients would ensure that the local company will continue to grow. If a national gets the bid, it will open up the door to a competitive car share company in the Buffalo market… and that could potentially spell disaster for Buffalo CarShare, a company that has grown to a seven car fleet with three or four additional cars being added in coming months. At the same time, money going to a national company would not stay in the Greater Buffalo economy – it would instead be diverted out of state. At a time when UB states that it is committed to buying local, we will see just how much that sentiment ring true.
Photo: Creighton Randall (Co-founder of Buffalo CarShare)