The "i Live New York" Movement

David J. Valesky

September 21, 2007

We all know someone who has moved away to find work, whether they are our friends, our children or our grandkids. Over the past decade, far too many young people have had to leave Central New York after college to find work and start their careers.

This symptom of prolonged economic stagnation is also one of the greatest challenges we face as we work to reinvigorate the Upstate Economy.

By now, we all know what this exodus is called: the Brain Drain. And we all agree it must be stopped. The question is how.

This week I joined New York First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer, Governor Spitzer, Upstate Economic Development Czar Dan Gundersen and many other elected officials at a conference hosted by SUNY Cortland to discuss strategies to reverse the so-called Brain Drain. Most importantly, the event was also attended by more than 500 business and community leaders, young professionals, economic development experts and college students.

The conference, titled "I Live New York," provided a comprehensive look at the economic, social, cultural and educational forces that lead to job creation, entrepreneurship, and the development of livable communities. Throughout the day, sessions and discussion were held on entrepreneurs and investors, strategic internship programs, arts as an economic catalyst, and many other issues. All these subjects focused on making our communities more attractive and livable for the next generation of New Yorkers, and the economic development that these young people will be empowered to spur.

The Governor closed the event by talking about our work to reduce the cost of doing business in New York, by reforming worker’s compensation, reducing property taxes and reigning in health costs -- critical components to the state’s economic development strategy.

Because of efforts like this and events like "I Live New York," I believe the tide is finally turning in Upstate New York. Good jobs are continually being added at growing businesses like Sensis and Syracuse Research Corporation, and other local companies. With this, more young professionals can choose to make this area their home. We need them to do just that, so that together, the students, professionals and young entrepreneurs can help transform the Upstate economy.
Over the next decade, I hope we are able to talk about the "Brain Gain" we have experienced and the economic vitality that followed. More importantly, I hope our friends, our children and our grandchildren have the option to live and work in Central New York.