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Thread: Interesting article on "brain drain" in upstate NY

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Interesting article on "brain drain" in upstate NY


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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    I proudly plan to be part of that brain drain.

    This place has nothing to offer me. Upstate NY offers a lifestyle suited only to a very narrow deomgraphic. I'd rather live in Minneapolis, Madison (WI) or even *gulp* my hometown near Milwaukee (MKE is cool, my hometown is not) over this place.

    Oh, I read that article, too. I agree with everything they say because I'm experienceing it first-hand.

    Note: I didn't grow up here, so I guess I fit into a 'hybrid' group of people who moved here as entry level professionals and then left after gaining a few years' experience.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

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    Cyburbian DC Librarian's avatar
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    I grew up in the Buffalo area, went to school at the University at Buffalo, and all of my family still lives there, but there is nothing to attract me back any time soon. I always tell people who ask what Buffalo is like: I'ts a great place, filled with some of the best architectural gems in the country with great people and beautiful summers, but if you are looking for anything for the under 50 crowd, Buffalo is not the place you'd really want to be.

    Most Buffalonians that I know live in a few places, some of which could be considered the "Sun Belt":

    1. North Carolina (Charlotte to be exact - why do all UB grads end up in Charlotte at some time in thier lifetimes?)
    2. The Bay Area (lived there for 7 years)
    3. New York Metro
    4. DC Metro (describes me presently)

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Two of our stormwater interns hit the road today for graduate school in upstate NY. He's from there, she's from Tampa. He wants to stay there after they get their degrees, and she's amenable. So I guess it is sucking in unsuspecting Floridians! (One winter, bet she's screaming for a beach!)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by DC Librarian
    ......., but if you are looking for anything for the under 50 crowd, Buffalo is not the place you'd really want to be.'

    if you said job opportunities in certain categories were limited I would have to agree with you. However your under fifty statement is pure misinformation. And...you will never find this UB grad in Charlotte.

    Check out this site: http://www.buffalorising.com/home/

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    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    i'm from one of the cities mentioned in the article and i also attended UB as an undergrad. looks like i'm in the minority but i am trying to get back to upstate new york. i loved growing up in a small town that was ideally situated for access to many big cities. personally, i don't know why binghamton isn't more of a destination for people. you are within driving distance of NYC, Boston, DC, Philly, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland and lots of little places in between. perfect location if you ask me. plus housing is extremely cheap.

    however, i can't seem to find a job in upstate NY. there don't seem to be many openings - let alone entry level openings. i don't know why this is. any ideas?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DC Librarian
    I always tell people who ask what Buffalo is like: I'ts a great place, filled with some of the best architectural gems in the country with great people and beautiful summers, but if you are looking for anything for the under 50 crowd, Buffalo is not the place you'd really want to be
    I've said the same thing, and taken hell for it too.

    It's not that there aren't diversions for the Generation X and Y crowd in Buffalo, but rather that they aren't as dense as in many other cities. Outside of some parts of Downtown, the West Side (specifically Allentown, Elmwood Village and the Delaware District) and North Buffalo, there really isn't much. Despite all the talk about "New Buffalo," I think many young professionals leave not because of the job or tax situation, but because they feel like they don't fit in; that Buffalo isn't their city, but rather these peoples' city:



    Yes, other cities have their blue-collar crowd, but Buffalo wears its blue-collar label proudly. People appreciate the honesty, unpretentiousness and legendary friendliness of Buffalonians, but if they find it's increasingly hard to find a date, or that they're losing their friends and acquaintences to Charlotte and Atlanta, what reason do they have to stick around? The local cuisine, architecture, and "20 minute commutes" that seem to top the lists of Buffalo boosters when talking about the city's quality of life aren't going to be enough. They see mediocre pizza and rush hour congestion as a small price to pay for living in a city of their peers, rather than a city of the proles.

    That being said, most leaving Buffalo will never lose their sense of being "Buffalonain". Identity with the city is extremely sticky, almost akin to a nationality; a person can leave Buffalo, but the Buffalo never leaves them. If you don't believe that, check out the Buffalo-style pizzerias in Charlotte, the condiments in an ex-pat's fridge, or the loyalties of a sports fan in the Diaspora. Buffalo and its natives seem to have a sense of identity that is among the strongest in the country. It's something that's nearly impossible to shed. It's home, but it isn't.

    That being said, how can you reverse the brain drain? I don't think you can, but I do think it's possible to attract young, educated professionals -- mainly self-employed entrepreneurs, artists,and creative types -- from other regions. How? Here's one way:







    These examples are all from very desirable, safe, vibrant, pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhoods; the types of environments where, in some other cities, homes will sell for seven digit price tags.

    Buffalo's affordable housing will either be its savior or its undoing. It means young people can actually afford the American Dream. It also means the economic forces that drive gentrification and reintegration of once-depressed neihgborhoods in other cities is lacking. One reason why some city neighborhoods experienced socioeconomic upheaval in the 1980s and 1990s was because housing became so inexpensive, even the poor could afford to buy a home in some middle-class neighborhoods. It's arbitrage at its most extreme.

  8. #8
    I can find those pictures over vast swaths of Chicago Land too Dan and I am sure your beloved Cleveland is a nirvana for that type society as well (I have seen the Browns fans here in Chicago and believe me, it is not a pretty sight). It is really all about the jobs. Not the zubas. Bring in the jobs and you stop the brain drain.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    I can find those pictures over vast swaths of Chicago Land too Dan and I am sure your beloved Cleveland is a nirvana for that type society as well (I have seen the Browns fans here in Chicago and believe me, it is not a pretty sight). It is really all about the jobs. Not the zubas. Bring in the jobs and you stop the brain drain.
    I'm really not sure it is possible to simply "bring in the jobs". Corporate america loves the sunbelt with all its golf courses, McMansions and easy motoring. Upstate NY has much more to offer in terms of natural resources, history, and sense of place but that's my impression as a planner. I suspect CEOs are other bigwigs that make location decisions see things very differently. I hear that an common perception is that the northeast is less business-friendly than the south. I don't really know what this means but I think it has something to do with the ungodly amount of taxpayer subsidies southern metros give out (Florida gives away the farm for corporate relocations )

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I grew up in Syracuse, went to SU and then left for Boston in 1986 the week after graduation and never looked back - planning decisions in Syracuse are a 180 from the profession and because I grew up there, I think that would bother me to practice there - I'd be too emotional

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    I grew up in Syracuse, went to SU and then left for Boston in 1986 the week after graduation and never looked back - planning decisions in Syracuse are a 180 from the profession and because I grew up there, I think that would bother me to practice there - I'd be too emotional
    How so? I went to Syracuse my freshman before transferring. At that time I really didn't understand urban planning but I did notice that the downtown core was torn apart by ugly highways.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller
    How so? I went to Syracuse my freshman before transferring. At that time I really didn't understand urban planning but I did notice that the downtown core was torn apart by ugly highways.
    exactly...

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    We spent the weekend in the Adirondacks. It reminded me some of North Idaho and NE Washiington. The days when you get a decent job in the woods or in the mills are gone (long gone actually) and the number of industrial jobs in the cities on the edge has dwindled. A lot of the population is living in the past and, while there are bright spots, there is a pervasive feeling of people left behind. Those who have ambition, skills, etc. leave,. Those who remain find that what opportunties there are, are usually exploited by "newcomers," who were attracted by the natural beauty of the area.

    It is a tough situation. If you let the "natives" have their way, they'll wreck the resource (not intentionally, at least not for the most part, but they'll do it anyway), And even in the course of wrecking the place, they won't create enough jobs for everyone.

    So what are you going to do? Resettle them elsewhere? Rex Tugwell and others tried that during the Great Depression. Didn't work. Tell them all to become entrrepreneurs? I don't think so, although people who have ideas should get some support. The reality is that, at this point in time at least, we have more people than we have productive niches for them to fill - and we don't know what to do about that, except possibly (getting back to the Depression) to create work.

  14. #14
    I pretty much grew up in Orange County north of New York City. in a town named Newburgh thats on the west bank of the Hudson River. my family revolved around New York City despite living about sixty miles away. despite not being too far away from the Big Apple there just wasn't too much opportunity there. as I grew older more and more New Yorkers made their home north of da city, lol. I can see some of the merits of the brain drain. most of my friends including myself have moved on. its crazy how things are because New York City is getting so expensive! even areas there were once blighted like The Bronx and Upper Manhattan.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian thestip's avatar
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    Well, I want to stay in Buffalo, the only problem is that finding a plnning job here is really like looking for a needle in a haystack. The unfortunate thing is that if this city wants to really move forward it needs to beef up its planning staff so that they can actually deal with the work load presented to them. Unfortunately try convincing the Control Board about that one!
    'Planning Rockstar in training';-)

  16. #16
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis

    It is a tough situation. If you let the "natives" have their way, they'll wreck the resource (not intentionally, at least not for the most part, but they'll do it anyway), And even in the course of wrecking the place, they won't create enough jobs for everyone.

    So what are you going to do? Resettle them elsewhere? Rex Tugwell and others tried that during the Great Depression. Didn't work. Tell them all to become entrrepreneurs? I don't think so, although people who have ideas should get some support. The reality is that, at this point in time at least, we have more people than we have productive niches for them to fill - and we don't know what to do about that, except possibly (getting back to the Depression) to create work.
    I half agree with you on this one though I suspect your holier-than-thou-planner is meant to be a little provacative . I'd argue that most communities recognize the natural resources they have but it is the politicians who end up squandering it to benefit special interests. Ultimately this is result of planning decisions being made like back room deals at the Bada Bing.

  17. #17
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    It's very difficult to find a job in Buffalo if you don't want to work in a job where you're overqualified. There are a lot of customer service rep, call center, and manufacturing assembly jobs here. Even though I have a Bachelor's degree, most of the jobs I sent my resume for required a high school diploma.

    I interviewed for a job that required a Bachelor's and paid $8/hour. I know someone who has a marketing degree and works as a Director of Marketing...for $8.75/hour. He has a second job delivering pizza.

    I temped for a long time while I was looking for a job. I sent a lot of resumes to companies out of town. I eventually got a permanent job here, but it took much longer than it should have.

    Buffalo can be dull, and it needs some renovation. Last time I went to Cleveland I was so impressed with the development and the vitality of the city. We need that in Buffalo.

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