It's not Rocket Science: Be open to change or lose edge

Albany Model: Here's a good article to pass around and circulate widely. It will help open minds and opportunities at your next meeting. At I-Open we call this building "open economic networks."

Follow it up with an article and report to download published by The Arts Council of Indianapolis and consultant, Rebecca Ryan. Read and download the report here.

Be open to change or lose edge

By CATHERINE HEDGEMAN Attraction and retention of Gen X
First published: Sunday, April 23, 2006

Attraction and retention of Gen Xers in the workplace requires that employers be aware of the value approach taken by young professionals when looking at employment opportunities.

This approach is different from our parents' (baby boomers) and grandparents' (traditionalists) and involves much more than an interest in decent pay and benefits.

We look for value-added items: ways we might contribute to the workplace; the importance placed on our participation on the team; potential for training and growth; how our employer is viewed by and contributes to the community.

In addition, when considering where to work, we Gen Xers look closely at location.

In the business world "location" is everything, but most companies don't usually extend it to the attraction and retention of employees. Fortunately, the Capital Region has awakened to this idea.

It was born of a commitment from government, business, higher education and people wanting to make the Capital Region one of the nation's great places to live, work and play. Undoubtedly, this will assist us in ending the brain drain, or loss of intellectual capital.

Every day now, it seems, we read about new businesses coming to town. New residential developments have sprouted and property values have increased -- as has traffic congestion on antiquated roads and highways. Our local colleges and universities are attracting better students and better athletes, who in turn have given the schools -- and the Capital Region -- a national presence.

All these things are signs of what is yet to come. It is truly exciting to see the Capital Region open the door to innovation, creativity and modernization.

Lately, though, my concern is growing over the effects of generational attitudes on economic development. I saw this firsthand when I attended a public meeting on the proposed Harriman Research & Technology Park.

Uptown Albany residents (including myself) and residents of adjacent Guilderland are concerned about what redevelopment of the Harriman State Office Campus may mean for their neighborhoods. While the worry is legitimate, there are ways to mitigate any impact.

What was disconcerting, however, was that much of the criticism of the Harriman project did not focus on any specific quality-of-life ramifications. Rather, much of it was outright opposition to the commercial, recreational and residential uses proposed. In fact, one man proposed that nothing be done and the campus be left as is.

I am still baffled by these comments, because they ignore the chance to transform the experience of uptown living into a more urban, high-tech living/learning/play environment, while also providing the city of Albany with an additional tax base.
If we could see into the future, we might see a market address that is a nationally recognized center for cutting-edge research and development in a wide variety of high-tech arenas. We might see a Harriman campus where college students study at benches and tables; where thirty-somethings and forty-somethings shop for a DVD, take out a library book or buy an ice cream cone; where young professionals and empty-nesters now have condos; where senior citizens tutor elementary and high school students in a community atrium.

All of these possibilities would be surrounded by commercial office space that is home to world-class technology companies that will provide new jobs and tax revenue. A project like this would certainly be an asset to the region and could only add to its attractiveness. Call me old-fashioned, but I am keeping an open mind.

NextGen Workbytes is written locally by and for Gen Xers learning the realities of the workplace. Catherine M. Hedgeman is a government relations associate with Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP in Albany and is involved with a local young professionals' group.


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