LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Three Larchmont friends plan on moving out of Westchester after graduating college in 2012, following a trend that has county officials exploring ways to keep its young people after they graduate.
"There aren't as many appealing jobs in Westchester as there are in New York City or other places," Jack Warner said
Warner, 20, attends the University of Michigan and said he may stick around the area there in favor of returning home. Aaron Eisenberg, 20, said he will definitely move out of Westchester when he graduates from the University of Rochester.
"If you're our age, it's just easier to live in the place that you work," said Keri Taub, who attends the University of Pennsylvania and feels Larchmont is better suited for families than young people. "The schools are good, but there's no night life."
Keeping young people in Westchester has been an increasingly important issue facing the county, according to Laurence Gottlieb, director of economic development for the office of the county executive. And the first and biggest step has only recently come into fruition.
"The first step is admitting that we have a problem," Gottlieb said.
According to U.S. Census data, Westchester County's age demographic hovers slightly above the national average by roughly one percent. The number translates into younger people leaving the county while older residents adhere to the county's old niche that Gottlieb called a "bedroom community."
"The county used to just be a place for people to sleep," he said. "But that is changing."
The issue is a featured talking point for county business organizations and was a pivotal short-term goal in a recent Business Council of Westchester report.
Gottlieb said the south has proven to be a popular location for young people leaving Westchester, particularly Austin, TX. Popular events such as the South by Southwest music festival have become staples of the region and Gottlieb said the county could learn to adapt similar initiatives to make the area more appealing for younger demographics.
"The music festival in Austin is one of the hottest things in the state," Gottlieb said. "What's our own thing? We need to find out."
Gottlieb said Westchester's biggest problem is a failure to obtain returns on heavy investments. The county's schools are some of the most expensive in the country, with roughly $5,000 to $8,000 spent per student, and young people then relocate after graduating and become assets to other areas.
"It's a business issue," Gottlieb said. "And Westchester needs to look at it and think about how to sell itself as a place to be."
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