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Investing in the future of the Capital Region

Investing in our future
Investing in our future

I grew up here in the Capital Region. Clifton Park, to be precise. I went to Siena College and stayed here after graduation. However, a good number of Gen Xers from this area decided to seek out greener pastures. Upon graduation, many opted for larger cities like New York or Boston, or young and trendy places like Charlotte, Atlanta or Austin.

Gone are the days when several generations of families lived in the same area, getting together for Sunday dinners or huge holiday celebrations. Instead, families are now spread out across the country, flying in to see each other for weddings and funerals.

But why? What is it about the Capital Region that leads the young, well-educated and successful to put down roots elsewhere? Perhaps the area isn't as exciting as nearby cities. Maybe the weather in Hotlanta is more appealing than the winters of Upstate New York.

Those of us who decided to stay here have good reasons. Maybe the family ties are strong. Maybe a good job offer came in right out of college. Or...GASP... maybe we just love the area.

Either way, those of us who are here may have found ourselves in the minority, especially in the business community. The demographics of this area skew slightly older than other cities, and some of us under 40 have had a bit of a challenge in proving ourselves to our older, more experienced colleagues.

Enter Kate Hedgeman. A Capital Region native and graduate of  Union College and Albany Law School, she was often the youngest person in the room at networking events. So, in 2002, she formed GenNEXT.

Hedgeman says, "The goal of the organization was to provide an opportunity for chamber members under 40 to network and be mentored into the next generation of Capital Region Leaders."

One of the interesting parts of GenNEXT is the mentorship program. It matches Gen Xers with their Baby Boomer counterparts, in an effort to share knowledge and experience. This year, there are 40 matches.

But networking wasn't enough.

With an eye on the future of the Capital Region, Hedgeman launched The Stakeholders, Inc. Part of its mission is to "seek to retain and attract residents, workers and visitors and foster regional pride by connecting individuals with area resources and providing enrichment through our educational, capacity-building and philanthropic programs."

Follow that?

It means getting people like you and me to stay here in the Capital Region. It means getting our generation involved in transforming the area into one that people move TO instead of FROM. It means raising money to keep our area thriving, and strengthening things like arts and culture, the environment, and community activism.

Interested? You should be.

It is up to each generation to pick up where their predecessors left off. To continue the tradition of involvement, philanthropy, and commitment to strengthening our community. Baby Boomers are handing the baton to us, and it's up to us to run with it and then pass it on to the next generation.

That way, when your children graduate from college, maybe they will decide that the Capital Region is a great place to live and work. Maybe you will have generations of family at your house for Sunday dinners instead of for just weddings and funerals.

And maybe they will have YOU to thank.

Learn more about  Kate Hedgeman, The Stakeholders, The Stakeholders Foundation, GenNEXT, and upcoming events here in the Capital Region.