Schenectady County

Millenials upbeat about Schenectady

City Councilman John Ferrari pledged to start a Millennial Council during his campaign, and after th
Patrons line up outside Mexican Radio in downtown Schenectady for the Wing Walk in October.
Patrons line up outside Mexican Radio in downtown Schenectady for the Wing Walk in October.

Survey says

As part of the Millennial Council’s first meeting last month, eight members completed a survey about the city of Schenectady. The results:

Q. How best to describe Schenectady’s image?

Experiencing a renaissance: 62.5%

Not the most exciting place: 37.5%

Q. Schenectady would benefit from building on some of the best characteristics of what places?

Troy: 71.4%

Saratoga Springs: 57.1%

Burlington, Vt.: 42.9%

Albany: 14.3%

New York City: 14.3%

Lake Placid: 14.3%

None of the above: 14.3%

Q. What works in Schenectady?

Infrastructure: 85.7% average, 14.3% not well

Taxes: 14.3% average, 85.7% not well

Elected officials: 28% very well, 71.4% average

Police and fire: 71.4% average, 28.8% not well

City Hall (departments): 14.3% very well, 71.4% average, 14.3% not well

Q. What form of entertainment is most important to you?

Theater and shows: 25% average, 75% important

Music and live performances: 100% important

Gaming: 62% average, 37.5% not important

Restaurants: 62.5% average, 37.5% important

Shopping: 25% average, 75% important

Bars and dance clubs: 75% average, 25% important

Parks and recreation: 37.5% average, 62.5% important

City Councilman John Ferrari pledged to start a Millennial Council during his campaign, and after the group’s first meeting last month he is heartened by the positive outlook young people have of Schenectady.

The goal of the council is to gather young professionals, between the ages of 18 and 40, in the Schenectady area to discuss ways to attract people to the city and steps for future growth. Ferrari said he is inspired that members believe a renaissance is occurring in the city.

“These are young business owners and people who work for nonprofits who are excited about what is going on in the city and the sense that there’s progression happening rather than regression,” Ferrari, 28, said. “Our goal is to rebrand Schenectady. They understand they are the face of this next generation. This new generation is the generation that is going to take over.”

The council, led by Ferrari and Deputy City Clerk Chad Putnam, has about 10 members, including local business owners and people who live and work in the city.

At a meeting Jan. 14, members discussed the strengths of other municipalities in the region, what is working and not working in Schenectady and ideas to promote the city as a destination. People in the group pointed to Troy’s arts community and Saratoga Springs’ bustling downtown as characteristics that make the cities attractive, much like Schenectady’s downtown, Putnam said.

The council is focusing on ways to revitalize Schenectady’s neighborhoods and bring more retail business to the area, Ferrari said. He said members are looking forward to a casino coming to the old Alco site between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River because it will bring more traffic to businesses along State Street.

The council plans to meet every month. Ferrari is looking to elect a chair, vice chair and secretary to help manage its operations. He is also pushing for members to attend City Council and neighborhood association meetings to engage with the community and local government.

“A majority of them never went to a City Council meeting or committee meeting,” he said, “so one of the requirements is to attend one before the next meeting and report back to us with their thoughts. The idea is, in order for people to take us seriously as a millennial generation, we have to show that we’re really trying to make a difference.”

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 110 at City Hall.

The Millennial Council is getting off the ground as the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Schenectady County together focus on marketing the Capital Region as a great place for young people to live and work.

The chambers debuted a promotional video for the region during an event at Proctors last week.

“The film made me feel proud of the region, and it was very emotional for me,” Ferrari said. “Everything I want — I’m sure the council is behind me — we see occurring in the area. It’s great to see how far we’ve come. No longer is that dark cloud hanging over us in Schenectady. There is hope and reassurance.”

Chamber of Schenectady County President Chuck Steiner offered to set up a meeting between the Young Professionals Network and the Millennial Council, Putnam said. Steiner also recognized Ferrari and the Millennial Council at the event last week.

“This video came from this whole effort that we have been trying to do, going to campuses and meeting with student groups to talk about the region and the many things we offer,” Steiner said. “The new generation includes all smartphone folks, and it’s such an integral part of their lives. We want to tap into that. We’re constantly brainstorming new ideas.”

Putnam said they are considering making the council more formal as an official group in the city.

City residents interested in becoming a member of the Millennial Council can send a resume and a paragraph about themselves to Ferrari at [email protected]

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