What 13 Business Leaders Love Most About Living and Working in Central New York

The View From the Top: 13 Business Leaders on What They Love Most About Living and Working in Central New York

Central New York’s business leaders have a lot invested here. And, in the course of their conversations with journalist Stan Linhorst about business and leadership (a weekly series) throughout this past year, we think they beautifully summed up why we consider living and working in CNY “the good life.”

Here are some of our favorite perspectives, taken from Linhorst’s inspiring year-end article:

Innovative business climate

“There are so many young companies that are doing awesome, innovative things… We’re all growing exponentially year over year. Downtown Syracuse is a huge draw… We have so many awesome resources with such great universities… As we’ve gotten bigger, we use interns, training people and building them up. We see great potential in Syracuse, and that’s why we’ve chosen to stay here.”
Aliza Seeber, co-founder, managing partner and chief technology officer,  SparkOrange 

“The technology talent pool is impressive in Upstate New York. There are a lot of new graduates from the multitude of colleges in Upstate New York and even from nearby areas like Boston. Those graduates are looking for opportunities in companies that give them a mission and purpose to their work. I came here from Southern California and I do miss the beach and nice weather, but Upstate New York simply has the most advantages for success.”
Timmy Oh, founder, CEO and majority owner, Vara Safety 

“To see how the area has weathered its storms and grown that entrepreneurial ecosystem has been very heartening.”
Joe Dickson, CEO and co-owner, Ducted Wind Turbines

“I feel very fortunate to be in Syracuse as an entrepreneur, because of the enormous amount of resources and support that there is for entrepreneurs… If I wanted to, I could go to classes or events or something for entrepreneurs every week. I know that my colleagues across the country don’t have what I have here.”
Janet Lutz, cofounder and owner, Calico Gals; founder and owner, Quilters Trek

Easy commute

“Where else could I live where I don’t spend half my life commuting and I can still get to so many interesting places so easily? I get a chance to enjoy the wonders of being in a place where I can imagine and create the future for myself and for my family… You can make things happen here with a little grit and a lot of motivation… And you can see the fruits of your labor really prominently. You can have an impact.”
Melanie Littlejohn, vice president of customer and community engagement, National Grid

“…I love the geographical convenience of Syracuse. You’re able to get all points North, South, East, or West within 15 or 20 minutes – 30 tops. It’s great. When I have several appointments jammed in a day, I realize I wouldn’t be able to be involved in as many things if I were in another city. Geographical convenience also means we’re so close to other major metropolitan cities – Boston, New York, Philadelphia. We are an easy train or bus ride or airplane away.”
Me’Shae Rolling, entrepreneur; executive director of the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance


The wonderful people

“Networking with people who can make a difference for your company is a lot easier here. It’s easy to get involved in organizations that can help other people and thereby expand your network. We have sort of a small town feel to a city that’s pretty progressive and is always reinventing itself to be current.”
Beth Race, founder and owner, Eco-Baggeez

“…There’s an immigration center that feeds the local population. It’s really fun to be part of that. Because of that, the diversity within the community is absolutely incredible – I’ve never eaten at so many good restaurants as I have in the greater Utica-Clinton area.”
Curt Hartman, CEO, ConMed

“Central New York has a community that stands together. People root for each other here…There are so many people willing to help, to step up, to stand up for their neighbor… There’s a sense of community here that I don’t think you’re gonna find in a lot of other places. People really support local businesses, local charities, and each other.”
Jennifer Savastino, co-owner and vice president, Gannon Pest Control and co-founder and officer, Syracuse Challenger Baseball

Scenic beauty

“…This is my adopted home. While I love visiting the Rockies, and I’ve been all over the world, this is home. I will always want to travel, but this is where I want to be…It’s this wonderful mosaic of the beautiful lakes, prime farmland and agricultural lands, small villages, and these wild areas of rugged gorges, wooded hillsides, and scenic vistas…”
Andrew Zepp, executive director, Finger Lakes Land Trust

“I grew up in New York City, and I never imagined that I would come to Upstate and not want to leave. I loved growing up in the city… and it’s beautiful even in the cold gray of winter…The cost of living is not high here. The schools are phenomenal. Outdoors is gorgeous…There’s no traffic. There’s Wegmans. Upstate is a really comfortable place to live… It’s common for parents to show up at school ‘cause it only takes 20 minutes to get to your kid’s school. The program takes 40 minutes. They go back to work.”
Rachel Rosen, president and CEO, WexEnergy

Arts and culture

“I love Central New York. Its public schools are wonderful. Its cultural events are wonderful. I love going to plays. I lived in Manhattan for 10 years, and I see more plays here, because it’s easier. I’ve had a subscription to Syracuse Stage since I moved here, and I go to Famous Artists. It’s easy. It’s fun. We have a great quality of life.”
Dr. Ruth Weinstock, medical director, The Joslin Diabetes Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University; president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association

“I grew up in a small town, and I sometimes think Syracuse is the smallest town in the world. But it’s big enough to be really interesting. All the cultural stuff – there’s always something to do.”
Anne Messenger, entrepreneur; founder of the CNY Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Alliance

For more of these leaders’ perspectives on living and working in Central New York, see the original article here. Each leader’s individual Conversation on Leadership in its entirety is linked via their name. Need a job in CNY? Check our careers page.