Syracuse University student L eah Mattiaccio, who grew up in this area, is looking forward to her senior year this semester, graduating and probably moving away.
" J ust want to see what else is out there, " Mattiaccio told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon. "S yracuse is great but I want to see what else the world has to offer."
L eah is not alone, and a s more and more young people leave Central New York, the overall population gets older. As this area gets grayer, future economic growth becomes harder to achieve.
No w, Upstate New York has reached an important milestone. The median age here is 40 years old.
T he Empire Center for New York State Policy looked at three decades of census figures. In 1990 the median age was 33.4 years old, by 2000 it had climbed to 37.1, and in 2010 it finally made it to 40.0 years old.
T he report concluded : " U nless the upstate region can somehow attract more young workers and their families, it's future outlook will grow even dimmer."
U pstate New York has 35 colleges and universities which attract students to this region, but by the time they reach 25-years-old, when they begin their careers and families, most will have moved somewhere else.
" These numbers are important and we'd be foolish to ignore them," says Kevin Schwab of the Centerstate Corporation for Economic Opportunity .
Schwab says upstate communities must work closely with colleges and universities to set up places like the Technology Garden in Syracuse. The Technology Garden's "Student Sandbox" students can network with their alma maters, local businesses and each other to set up their own entrepreneurial businesses.
Camille Malkiewicz is a case in point. The recent SU grad established a business called "Craftistas", a monthly subscription service for Do-It-Yourself fashion kits.
"For the time being, I definitely want to stay here to launch my business and get it off the ground because I made some great connections out here. So far it's been great," says Malkiewicz.
Schwab says C enterstate is also recruiting local employers to expand their internship programs.
" W e still have businesses , whether they be engineering firms , whether they be specialty manufacturers , whether they be financial services that are desperately looking for young talent," he says.
Centerstate will hold a Regional Internship Day on September 6th to link students with local companies. S chwab says one in three students will land a job with the company they intern with. Then the challenge becomes keeping them here.
T hat's where an organization of young professionals called "40 Below" could be helpful. Ben Sio of 40 Below says, "It's more than just meeting people, it's actually going out and saying I care about Syracuse. I care about living here. I care about making it a better place. I want to stay here."