Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Southern Tier

Economic opportunity keeping students in Ithaca

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Economic opportunity keeping students in Ithaca
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You've probably heard of the "brain drain," an issue areas face when the highest educated people leave. But at least one community is experiencing a "brain gain." Tamara Lindstrom tells us about these findings, and why graduates are choosing to stay in the Ithaca area.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The latest numbers put out by the American Institute for Economic Research show a trend locals have known for years.

"We're retaining a lot of knowledge here in Ithaca from folks coming out of college because there are opportunities here," said Kristy Mitchell, marketing manager at the Ithaca and Tompkins County Visitors Bureau.

The AIER named Ithaca the best college town under 250,000 residents for the second year in a row. Using data gathered from sources like the Census Bureau, National Science Foundation, and Small Business Administration, Ithaca came out on top.

"We're seeing more opportunities for businesses because we have groups like the Industrial Development Agency, we have business parks, we have Cornell's technology campus that's going to be coming. And all of these are opportunities to make it easier for young entrepreneurs to start out," said Cornell graduate and Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa.

But making the list isn't all about economics. Researchers took a look at what's going on around town to get students off campus as well.

"Because of the thriving downtown district and the festivals and the outdoor rec and the waterfalls, you don't stay on campus," said Mitchell, an Ithaca College graduate.

Factors like student diversity, and arts and leisure were taken into account. But some say it's the things you can't measure that keeps former students sticking around.

"When I came to New York and I came to Ithaca, I realized that there was a real community here. And I loved that fact," Shinagawa said. "And I also loved that you could be young, a person like me, and be 22 years old and run for the county board. And then at 29 run for Congress."

It's a community, he says, that gives young people a chance.

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