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By Robert Simpson


We have heard unequivocally from our members that finding and retaining talent is the single most-significant pressure facing them as employers. They also say that attracting and engaging diverse professionals is especially challenging, and that recent and potential hires have cited a lack of diversity and amenities in Syracuse among their concerns about moving to the area.

Generation Next, an initiative launched by CenterState CEO last summer, aims to tackle this challenge by providing a stronger platform for diverse young professionals to connect with business and community leaders, to cultivate a new generation of leadership.

In February, the business community has two unique opportunities to engage with Generation Next and our efforts to address the needs of regional employers for talent.

First, we partnered with the Oneida Indian Nation in hosting a special grand opening of its multi-million-dollar entertainment wing expansion of the Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango on Feb. 11. Proceeds from ticket sales will support Generation Next and the Good Life CNY. The Good Life CNY, a CenterState CEO initiative in partnership with Advance Media New York and regional employers, is a targeted marketing effort that is driving traffic to a new quality of life and job portal site for our region: There, visitors can review more than 3,000 jobs at nearly 230 companies across key industries. Since it launched last fall, more than 6,000 users have visited the site and over 1,600 have clicked on the talent connect job board. 

Then, on Feb. 27, Generation Next will host a special Business After Hours and Showcase at 5 p.m. at the Apex Entertainment Center at Destiny USA. Attendees can network with members of Generation Next; meet local diverse business owners; learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion services; and how their company can better recruit and engage diverse talent. For more information on this event, visit:

Those that bring a warm clothing item to donate to the 6th Annual Mark J. Palumbo Memorial Clothing Drive, honoring Nancy Premo, receive free admission.

We are grateful for the Oneida Indian Nation and Apex Entertainment’s support of these initiatives and their leadership in creating space and opportunity to build awareness for Generation Next. We invite more businesses to be part of our efforts to strategically attract and retain diverse talent in our community, and create an even more welcoming and inclusive Central New York. To learn more, contact Dr. Juhanna Rogers director of Community Engagement & Empowerment at CenterState CEO at      

Robert M. (Rob) Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This viewpoint is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on Feb. 6. 

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