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The deadline for selecting a college has now passed. Some students have chosen to go to school locally, while others will be attending schools out of the area. After graduation, in four or more years, how many of these students will decide to make Buffalo their home and seek a job in the Buffalo-Niagara region?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Buffalo-Niagara has seen an increase in the demographic of 20- to 34-year-olds every year since 2008. The region is outpacing the national average by more than 1 percent. About five years from now, the percentage will grow to 10 percent, well outpacing the national average.

What accounts for this growing demographic? Buffalo is a city of beauty and reinvention.

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, CEO of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, shares her knowledge and insight about the future of Buffalo. “There are a number of things that are changing,” she said. “The community at large is aligned for changes. Our governor, Andrew Cuomo, is supporting Buffalo.”

She says the greatest aspects of Buffalo are HarborCenter, Canalside, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the Buffalo Zoo; and the area’s famous architecture and homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, including the Darwin Martin House and Graycliff. These attractions enhance the view of Buffalo as well as help provide a strong economy.

“The refugee community is doing a lot of cool things,” she said. “West Side is really getting transformed by a class of entrepreneurs and refugees who have changed the city.”

The refugees have brought their culture with them and have started up authentic restaurants.

Gallagher-Cohen advises Buffalonians to take an active role in loving the town they are very much a part of and spreading Buffalo’s treasures.

Teens can have a large role in the “promotion” of Buffalo. The decision of whether to remain in Buffalo to attend college is a reflection of the conversations about Buffalo. Teens will have the ability to change the way the city is viewed by outsiders.

Gallagher-Cohen believes youth will be inclined to stay and support Buffalo if they are aware of and value the treasures of our city.

“Buffalo is an authentic place, we are who we say we are,” she said.

Matthew Andriaccio, a freshman at Erie Community College, is glad to be living in a suburb of Buffalo. When asked why Buffalo is important to him, Andriaccio said, “For starters, my family’s all here.” When asked if he believed that Buffalo had a sense of identity, he said, “Absolutely. People don’t say, ‘I’m from Western New York,’ they say, ‘I’m from Buffalo,’ with a certain pride. It’s not like when the canal was first opened, it’s not Buffalo’s heyday. You hear about how Buffalo is a city in decline, but being a part of this city’s youth, you can feel like there is a new optimism for where the city is going.

“I would like to (remain here), but its all about the job market,” Andriaccio said of the future. “I am studying to be a high school history teacher, and there are plenty of opportunities in the South and Midwest, but here, it’s very limited. I love this city and the community here. I want to see her back in the spotlight someday.”

He plans to attend Columbia University in the fall to study international affairs or political science. While he looks forward to the New York City experience, he said, “(Buffalo) has a sense of identity. When people come to the state of New York, they think it’s only New York City but when people come to Buffalo, they realize there is more to New York State than New York City.”

“We have some pretty good food here and a lot of great restaurants,” she said.

That could be appealing to young adults who go out to socialize with friends or on dates.

Nicole believes young people can be great ambassadors for Buffalo. Deciding to make Buffalo her home during her college years and beyond, she echoed a well-known sentiment: “Buffalo is known for being the city of good neighbors.”

Eliza Lefebvre is a senior at Sweet Home High School. She plans to study media production and public relations at SUNY Buffalo State in the fall.