The Southern Tier: Struggling but Proud

The Tuesday September 29 issue of the New York Times contains a piece by Albany Bureau chief Susanne Craig that paints an unfairly gloomy picture of the Binghamton area. Here is the email exchange I had with the author of the article:


Me: Instead of focusing your hatchet job on the benighted burgh of Conklin, perhaps you might have come into Binghamton and seen the revival taking place there. Just in the past few years dozens of restaurants have opened and thrived. Young people who graduate from Binghamton University are staying in the area and starting businesses. Instead you chose to highlight the gloom-and-doom in which old timers in the area wallow. In fact, the Southern Tier has hundreds of unfilled high-skill jobs because unfair negative reporting keeps people away. We in the Southern Tier deserve more than an occasional drive-by hit from the NY Times.


Her: Thanks for the note. I live upstate and have traveled extensively in the Southern, including Binghamton. Sadly, the numbers don’t support the rebirth. I am sure people are staying. However, the Southern Tier broadly is experiencing an exodus of people. And workers are not moving there. We write about job announcements in the area, the recent GE / Utica facility for example. I think it is also fair to look more broadly at the region, and its struggles.


Me: Numbers do not tell the whole story. The economy of the Binghamton area is in the midst of a transition from light manufacturing to the knowledge economy. Binghamton University is playing an ever greater role in the community both in terms of job creation and of cultural renewal. And one bright spot on the horizon for the Southern Tier is that the industry that we do have is far less dependent of Pentagon spending than that in many other areas. Furthermore, while people are moving from the Southern Tier, the population has not changed very much over the past twenty years. As someone who moved to Binghamton from the DC area in 2000, I can assure you that the area is much better today than it was then. And like most people I know who have moved here I am convinced that the biggest problem facing the area is the crushing negativity of the local natives. Albany won’t save Binghamton and neither will Washington. We need to help ourselves and that starts with a positive attitude. But we could use a bit of help from the statewide press. For example, there was a piece in yesterday’s Times about breweries in the Finger Lakes region but no mention of the four in the Binghamton area. Nor has there been any mention of the LUMA festival that brought more than 20,000 people to the streets of Binghamton earlier this month. Oh, and have you ever heard of the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally in August? More than 100,000 other people did. The simple truth is that the NY Times has little interest in exploring what is really happening upstate beyond Duchess County. And more is the shame because we would really use an upstate edition of your paper.


1 Response to “The Southern Tier: Struggling but Proud”

  1. 1 Marie McKenna September 29, 2015 at 18:59

    Thank you for telling it like it is and sticking up for our lovely city that is coming alive. The Times writer needs a trip up with personal escort!

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