September 17, 2007


‘Brain Drain’ could be an inevitable reality

SUNY students say they want to stay in N.Y., but job market will be   the determining factor.

Brain Drain

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland students (front) Ian Burk and Megan Brown, (back) Megan Cornell and David Delcourt, sit on the porch steps of the Leadship House situated atop the college hill. The residents of the house are involved in a community-based program donating ten hours of community service each semester.

Staff Reporter

Ask Ian Burk, Megan Brown, Megan Cornell and David Delcourt — SUNY Cortland students who live together at the college’s Leadership House on Prospect Terrace — about their plans for the future, and three of the four will say they intend to eventually settle in New York state.
While that informal poll might be a good sign for the state officials and economic leaders descending on Cortland this week for the “I Live NY Summit,” the four students all acknowledge the challenges — taxes, cost of living, a lack of jobs — that can drive young people from the state.
“The jobs are just more available down there,” said Cornell, a sophomore elementary education major from Long Island who said she planned on moving to North Carolina upon graduating.
“I like it in New York. I love having all four seasons and I would definitely miss that,” she said. “But I’ve got family down there … and there’s just no way I could afford to live on Long Island once I’m done with school.”
The summit, which will be Tuesday at SUNY Cortland, will address the problem of a “brain drain” in the state, the apparent exodus of talented young people seeking better opportunities out of New York.
A survey this past spring of 1,000 SUNY seniors — released by First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer, who is hosting the summit — found that, while two-thirds of students born upstate wanted to remain in New York, only four in 10 have found jobs in the state, and less than three in 10 expect to be living in New York in 10 years.
Burk, Delcourt, Brown and Cornell all said they’re proud to be New York residents — “it’s the attitude, people wear it like a badge,” Burk said — and that they ultimately hoped to settle in the state, but that the job market in their respective fields would direct their first steps out of college.
“With our major, a lot of the jobs are probably going to be out West, you know, Yellowstone, places like that,” said Burk who, along with Delcourt, is a sophomore majoring in geographic information systems. “I would move out there for the right job, but I wouldn’t want to make it permanent, just a starting point.”
Brown, a senior majoring in elementary and special education, said that the college hosts teacher recruitment days for graduating seniors.
“I won’t start looking until next semester, but it’s a really good program,” Brown said. “I just hope I’ll find something close to home.”
Teaching jobs are much easier to find in other states, Brown and Cornell said.
“You hear that if you have a New York state license they (schools in other states) hire you on the spot,” Cornell said, noting that her sister-in-law is teaching in New York, is 29, and has still not received tenure.
“In North Carolina I can probably start teaching right away,” she said. “All I’ve known is Regents, Regents, Regents, my whole life … I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what other states are doing and sort of add what I’ve learned here to what they have going down there.”
Brown said her ultimate goal is to open a day care center and, while she and her housemates agreed that New York might have a more competitive business climate than other states, she said she was committed to opening her business on Long Island.
“Even if it is harder competition, that’s where I was brought up, it’s the only place I know,” she said.
Living in the Leadership House, which requires participation in a number of community outreach projects over the course of the year, Burk, Delcourt, Brown and Cornell likely have stronger ties to the community than other out-of-town students.
But of the four, only Delcourt, who is from Saratoga Springs, said he would be willing to settle in this area.
“If I could find a job opportunity I might (live in Cortland),” Delcourt said. “That’s really what it comes down to … and I guess I’ll also try to be where my friends are.”
The other three students, all from Long Island, said they couldn’t see themselves living, permanently at least, so far away from New York City.
One of the topics that will be discussed at Tuesday’s summit is the concept of building communities, of developing arts and culture offerings to draw young professionals to a community.
When asked about this, the four students said they’ve been impressed with some of the culture available in Cortland, but they also said that a stronger connection between students and the community at large could prompt more students to want to settle in the area.
“You see more little festivals, things like that,” said Burk. “I’d like to see the community open it up more though, make sure you don’t just have the campus as it’s own little community and then the rest of the town.”



‘I Live NY Summit’ set to boost local economy

Staff Reporter

Tuesday’s “I Live NY Summit” has been a boon for area hotels, according Jim Dempsey, executive director of the Cortland County Convention Visitors Bureau.
Dempsey said around 200 rooms at several hotels in the county were blocked out for the conference with discounted room rates, and that all those rooms may be gone.
Richard Stock, general manager at the Ramada Inn on River Street, said he had about 50 rooms reserved for the I Live NY summit, but may have 50 to 60 set aside now.
Area hotels originally blocked out about 200 rooms for the conference, he said.
“I think it’s gotten bigger than 200,” Block said.
Tom Bartz, general manager of Country Inn and Suites on Route 281, said about 75 percent of the hotel’s 81 rooms will be occupied by conference participants today.
The economic impact on the area from those staying in the 200 rooms would be about $25,000, said Linda Hartsock, executive director of the Business Development Corporation/Industrial Development Agency. That figure does not include restaurant meals or shopping.
Lloyd Purdy, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, said there will be more than 400 people attending local events today in advance of the conference and probably closer to 700. He said they will shop, eat and stay overnight.
“That’s just the out-of-town impact.”
Purdy said local people will join the planned Monday events that include music, walking tours and art shows.
“I think it’s going to be a nice gateway,” Bartz said.
He said once people experience what Cortland has to offer, they
are inclined to come back.
He said the hotel will encourage visitors to go downtown and that there will be a list of area events at the front desk.
“Well be showing them our hospitality,” he said.
Dempsey said the typical overnight guest spends $300, which includes a hotel room, meals and other incidentals, such as entertainment. He said while people probably won’t be making reservations at restaurants, he expects restaurants will see increased business Monday night. Downtown, most restaurants are staying open later.
“It will be interesting to see what the economic impact is after the fact,” said Dempsey. He said he guessed it would have an impact of around a $200,000 on the community.



Weather chills Cincy Corn Fest

Organizers say attendance down at 12th annual community festival

Staff Reporter

CINCINNATUS — Attendance was down at the 12th annual Cincinnatus Corn Festival Saturday, which organizers attributed to the weather.
“It is a fun day; a little stressful because of the weather,” said Nancy Schreiber, chair of the Corn Fest’s organizing committee. “Last year there were at least 1,000 people. I’d say it’s about 20 percent down, but we’ll have to see the final count.”
Final attendance figures won’t be available until Tuesday, Schreiber said.
The cold, cloudy day began with a parade that approximately 100 people lined the streets to watch. One of the most popular floats is the giant ear of corn, made of more than 1,200 milk containers.
The corn festival, which took place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cincinnatus school grounds, was organized by eight community volunteers and is financially sponsored by the Kellogg Library, Alliance Bank, the Business Men’s Association, the Town of Cincinnatus, as well as donations given at the door.
“This is a nonprofit event. We just work with what we have,” Schreiber said.
Other major attractions at the festival included the craft and food vendors, as well as the entertainment. Although there were some new crafters, Schreiber said the festival was lacking four to five crafters who had been regulars.
This year the committee added its own tent, which sold corn fritters. Other corn-related foods such as corn chowder and corn dogs were also available.
Josh Blanchard, a festival volunteer and long-time attendee, suggested another reason behind lower attendance: “The first year or two the focus was on community things. It was not as commercialized,” the 24-year-old said. “It has grown in size every year, drawing attendance and vendors from other areas, but I think we have lost some community interest because of commercialization. The focus is no longer on the history and heritage of the town.”
Blanchard said he comes to the festival because it has been a part of the community for so long.
Like Blanchard, other residents said they feel a strong tie to the festival. It embodies more than just a popular crop, but strength of their community.




Toilet, trash dragged out of Tioughnioga

More than 150 people volunteer at 11th annual river cleanup.

Staff Reporter

After only a week and a half in the New Visions Environmental Science Career Program at OCM BOCES, 18-year-old Ryan Richards found himself floating down the Tioughnioga River Saturday in a canoe picking up trash.
“We found all sorts of trash,” said Richards, a high school senior in Preble, “a cooler, a toilet, bottles, the top of a sand box.”
Richards was one of six New Visions students to participate in the 11th annual Cortland County Tioughnioga River Cleanup behind McDonald’s in the Riverside Plaza near the Clinton Avenue bridge.
Approximately 180 community volunteers helped clean up the Tioughnioga River from 10 a.m. to noon at various locations including Yaman Park, Durkee Park in Homer, near the Marathon High School and by the Elm Street soccer field in McGraw.
“We would come here every month and do this, but today is the day they have dumpsters and plastic gloves provided,” said Tim Sandstrom, the New Visions Environmental Science teacher at OCM BOCES. “We are here looking to collect a lot of debris that gets collected in the river over the year.”
The clean up was sponsored by the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“We expected about 180 volunteers, which is 80 more than last year,” said Melanie Dewey, secretary to the board at the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. “There were groups of five to 30 people at each site.”
Dewey said a final count will be compiled at the end of the week.
Kyle Nauseef, 18, of McGraw, has been participating in the annual river cleanup for four years now. This year, Nauseef came home from the SUNY College for Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse to help with the cause.
“We love doing it,” he said. “This is our kind of stuff.”