(My grandmother and great-aunts, circa 1945-1950)
For most of us, it is hard to fathom a time when Binghamton was the “Valley of Opportunity” instead of the “City of Disappointment”. In the past few decades, we have had the worst possible streak of luck. Beginning with the IBM layoffs that devastated our economy, to the floods of 2006 and 2011, to the rising crime and obesity rates, as well as being named the “5th most depressing city in the US”, there has been nothing but fuel added to the fire that coursed through this town.
However, all is not lost. When Alyssa Mercante penned her infamous rage against this town, I was disgusted. How could a Binghamton transplant, only here for a few years, have the nerve to set wrath upon the generations of families who have made their lives here? Mine included. Her words were ignorant and disgusting, but it opened my eyes to the negative attitudes that have settled deep within many of the residents here.
Yes, life has been hard. But it is getting better. And just like a stock’s value cannot go up without an investor’s confidence, this town’s value cannot go up if we don’t have faith in our city and in our own people. I know that I am just one person, but I believe in the strength of the generations of people who have fought to stay here because it is our home, despite all of the crushing circumstances that have left many of us reeling and yearning for better days.
We have a major opportunity to capitalize on the higher education industry, and the beginnings of a bustling downtown are beginning to show through. This is a very exciting time for Binghamton, like the late and 40’s and early 50’s. I want to be here for the day when people are proud to say that they live in Binghamton, and I want to have the opportunity to bring the business practices I have learned in Europe, Hong Kong, Cleveland, Columbus, and New York City, back to my home here. That is my dream.
(This is why I’m proud to be a 3rd generation Binghamtonian)
(This zebra and buffalo were undoubtedly proud to be a part of Binghamton, home to one of the best zoos in 1963,)
I’m not the only one who dreams of doing something more, right here at home in Binghamton. There is a number of young professionals in the area just waiting for the opportunity to capitalize on the development that the university has brought. This is what Binghamton needs. Binghamton needs young people to breathe new life into the city. Young people who can settle here, make a life here, buy up the homes here, start families here, revitalize the declining school districts, and begin life over again. This is what will make Binghamton happy again.
Manufacturing will never again be the lifeblood of this community, but we can follow in the footsteps of college towns like Ithaca and focus on ways of retaining the youth here in Binghamton. We don’t need an IBM to work at, trust me, we have our own ideas of how to bring industry back to Binghamton. We just need the confidence from developers who will invest in this town, but a big part of that is going to come from the population here, BELIEVING that it can happen, and BELIEVING in the younger generation’s ability to MAKE it happen.
Tweet me: @Hey_Stacey_Kay #IBELIEVEINBING