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Business-Higher Education Roundtable Launches Capital Region - College Region Initiative

by Miriam Trementozzi (January 31, 2005)

New York’s Capital Region – College Region - You’ll it here ! is the theme of a regional initiative launched January 31 by the Business-Higher Education Roundtable (BHER). The group unveiled a first-ever marketing campaign to advance the area’s growth as a destination for young talent by leveraging its dynamic college cluster. Sixteen colleges will now collectively present the area to prospective students in its full light as a vibrant College Region with two great advantages: choice and opportunity. The initiative, also linked to Tech Valley’s business marketing, was announced at an event held in conjunction with the Tech Valley Chamber Coalition.

The initial linchpin of the marketing campaign is the New York’s Capital Region - College Region booklet, aimed at students making a college decision. The messages of the booklet will flow outward through two channels: the colleges, which will use it to supplement their own recruitment materials, and Tech Valley chambers of commerce. Never before has a broad, lively picture been painted for students of both the region and the collective benefits they gain when selecting a college in close proximity to so many other colleges and universities. Big advantages include rich choices for courses, activities, and friends. Further, students benefit from being in the Capital Region with its great internship opportunities and other career links to a wide range of fields.

The marketing campaign is a step towards developing a regional framework of integrated messages and activities focused on students, recent alumni, and other young talent.

BHER’s college members used the 2005 issue of Images of New York’s Tech Valley magazine as the vehicle for developing this long-planned communications piece because of its flexibility for reaching both students and businesses. Out-of-area company leaders will discover the region’s strong base of young talent. Created over months of collaboration by the colleges, the booklet will be distributed as part of the magazine and as a stand-alone piece; it will also be available online.

Roundtable members unveiling the initiative were co-convenors John Ryan, Interim President of UAlbany, and Michael Marvin, chairman emeritus of MapInfo Corp.; Jeanne Neff, President of The Sage Colleges, and Deborah Onslow, President and General Manager of WMHT; Thomas Guernsey, President and Dean of Albany Law School; Thomas Haas, President of SUNY Cobleskill; Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Mark Sullivan, President of The College of Saint Rose; and C. Wayne Williams, President of Excelsior College. Representatives from virtually all the colleges attended. Speaking for the Tech Valley Chamber Coalition was Lyn Taylor, President of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber.

Introducing the session, Ryan, a retired Vice Admiral, said, “Having lived in more than 21 places during my Navy career, the Capital Region has an outstanding case to make as a destination for young talent. When I arrived here a year ago, my colleagues had long been working on a joint strategy for doing just that. It was a pleasure to join the team.” Ryan, whose term as Interim President ends in early February, praised the Communications Group and its co-chairs Jeanne Neff and Deborah Onslow for spearheading the effort.

Neff said “The Capital Region has a creative class culture, and we want to attract the best and brightest and retain young talent for our workforce. Brain drain is a fact of life for many parts of the country and world and it will only increase as the supply of young workers shrinks. Areas such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh are leveraging their college clusters with an eye on the future workforce. This region has been ranked third in the nation for ‘best place with the best education’ ( 2003). Higher education plays a major role in that rating. Our College Region booklet, and companion ad, help raise that profile nationally. But more is needed and we are working on other steps too.”

Neff and Onslow commended the 16 colleges for their outstanding collaboration, noting the great diversity of institutions involved and the significant staff time each invested. Neff and Onslow also gave credit to Communications Group members Mark Sullivan as well as James Barba, Chairman and CEO of Albany Medical Center; Gabriel Basil, President of Schenectady County Community College; James Gozzo, President of Albany College of Pharmacy; Judith Barnes, Creative Advisor; John Higgins, Executive Director of the Hudson Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities; and Miriam Trementozzi, BHER Program Staff and a member of Ryan’s staff. They thanked Ryan for making Trementozzi available to coordinate and develop the booklet with some 20 college representatives and an editor at the Tennessee-based publisher. (List attached)

“We are in a global competition for young talent,” Onslow also noted. “Colleges, through their direct contact with students and alumni, can advance the region as a magnet for young people in some unique ways.” She acknowledged chamber president Lyn Taylor for the idea of tying the BHER initiative into Images magazine and for contributing the design of the ad that appears on the booklet’s back cover. Onslow also recognized the presidents of the chambers in Rensselaer, Schenectady and Southern Saratoga counties for their support as well.

“As the chambers work together to market Tech Valley nationally and internationally,” Taylor said, “we point with pride to the excellence of our colleges and universities. The presence of thousands of bright, energetic and enthusiastic college students is an attractive lure for companies exploring this region as a potential place to do business. We’re especially pleased that Images of New York’s Tech Valley is being used by the higher education community as a vehicle to showcase this critical asset.

In describing what’s ahead, Neff said, “While the booklet is an important product, it is a first-burst effort. An immediate next step is for our college members to use the College Region ad in their publications. These magazines offer a great gateway to our alumni and students. The ad conveys at a glance the great benefits of the College Region for quality of life when choosing a place to live.”

Neff and Onslow see these efforts as part of a regional framework for linking messages and programs focused on students and other young talent. “We held a forum on what some metro areas are doing,” noted Onslow, “and then probed with area business and academic leaders a collaborative model created in Philadelphia for attracting, engaging and retaining students. This informal coalition had several good ideas about what might work here and we’ll be pursuing that further.”

“Our business members have long viewed higher education as the region’s greatest competitive advantage,” said Michael Marvin, BHER co-convenor for business. “Cultivating young talent is critical to being out in front as a region. We are delighted to be partners in shaping and launching this initiative.”

The Business-Higher Education Roundtable of the Capital Region is an alliance of over 30 business executives and college and university presidents collaborating on strategic areas to support the Capital Region's economic growth and quality of life. These areas range from information and transportation infrastructure to health care and the future workforce.