GenNEXT campaign aims to lure employees to region

Come home. Tired of seeing recent graduates flee the Capital Region, area schools and business organ
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Tired of seeing recent graduates flee the Capital Region, area schools and business organizations are teaming up to call them back.

Less than four years after the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce formed a networking organization for local young professionals called GenNEXT, that group is looking to pull more members from outside the region’s borders. The chamber Wednesday announced at Albany International Airport the launch of a new Web site and a marketing campaign in which the airport and 14 area colleges and universities will participate.

The initiative called “Discover Tech Valley, Rediscover Home” will highlight recent advancements in the region’s labor market and cultural scenes. Schools such as the University at Albany, Schenectady County Community College and Union College will participate in the initiative. They will feature Discover Tech Valley, Rediscover Home promotions in their alumni publications.

A kiosk in the airport will promote the region’s community assets and benefits.

The initiative’s Web site is www.discovertechvalley.org, which features a link to a new job networking program called Career Connect. GenNEXT has more than 500 members, up from 200 in early 2005.

“It would have been really helpful to have something like this when I moved back to the area,” said Candace Adams Grossjohann, an East Greenbush native who moved away for school.

After graduating from Columbia High School, Grossjohann studied psychology and education at Hofstra University on Long Island. From there, she transferred to the University of Rhode Island to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology. But the 31-year-old psychologist moved to Delmar in 2001 and now works as an early intervention official for Albany County’s Department for Children, Youth and Families.

GenNEXT’s Discover Tech Valley, Rediscover Home is the second marketing campaign launched this week geared toward restoring consumer confidence in the Capital Region’s economy. They come as the nation’s economy appears to be heading toward a recession. The Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association on Tuesday announced a campaign that will highlight new economic opportunities emerging in the area.

The now-defunct Higher Education Business Roundtable, which was run out of the University at Albany, several years ago launched a similar campaign geared toward attracting graduates back to the area. But the group of local college officials’ initiative failed because it lacked the support of an organization that would “give it the legs it needs,” said Jeanne Neff, president of The Sage Colleges.

“What was missing there was we didn’t have a connection to an organization like GenNEXT,” she said.

A recent Marvin & Co. survey of businesses throughout the greater Capital Region found that employers’ fourth-greatest concern for 2008 was finding qualified workers, trailing taxes, energy prices and health care costs. Chamber Chairman Michael Hickey said many graduates who moved away from the Albany area may not be aware of the new employment opportunities that have emerged since they left.

“We do have an equation where supply equals demand,” said Hickey.

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