Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Sports Factor

A common theme of this blog is the poor (or perhaps horrendous) branding of Rochester.  The metro area offers world-class universities, an elite music school, one of the nation's largest wine regions, seven percent of the world's fresh water supply, top-shelf public education, a history of truly iconic companies and convention-challenging personalities, and remarkable creativity and ingenuity.  Yet I have been asked ludicrous questions such as:

  1. Do they have soccer leagues for children?
  2. Do they have taxis? and
  3. Do they have Uber? (Okay, maybe not so ludicrous a question)
Such interrogation is obviously somewhat irritating, and it is also somewhat shocking.  How can a reasonably sized metro area be so misunderstood?

While many contributors are in play, one simple explanation involves the sports factor.  Similarly sized regions achieve an element of name recognition (i.e. branding) via the presence of major sports teams.  A look at some of America's biggest money makers (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, Division I college football, and Division I college basketball) illustrates why Rochester is mired in anonymity:

  • New Orleans MSA (population 1,251,849): NFL, NBA, DI football, DI basketball (2)
  • Raleigh, NC MSA (population 1,242,974): NHL, DI football* (3), DI basketball* (3)
  • Salt Lake City MSA (population 1,153,340): NBA, MLS, DI football, DI basketball
  • Buffalo MSA (population 1,136,360): NFL, NHL, DI football, DI basketball (3)
  • Rochester, NY MSA (population 1,083,393): NOTHING!         

MSA=Metropolitan Statistical Area
*Includes nearby MSAs
2014 population estimates   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Rochester is without a doubt a family-oriented town.  Couple that quality with decent food, and one might expect that Rochester is a hot spot for Thanksgiving.

Lo and behold, it is.  I fully realize that the following ranking is rather laughable, yet I find it truly remarkable that underappreciated Rochester always seems to find itself on such lists.  The study sought to identify the Top 10 Best Places for Thanksgiving Celebrations.  The 100 most populated metro areas were analyzed based on the increase in inbound airport traffic, turkey consumption, Pepto-Bismol sales,  and a consumer poll which essentially assessed the size of celebrations.  The winners were:

  1. Akron, OH
  2. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  5. Las Vegas, NV
  6. Rochester, NY
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  9. Philadelphia, PA
  10. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI

Sunday, November 22, 2015


As alluded to many times previously, Rochesterians have a tendency to be hypercritical when it comes to analysis of their surroundings.  Being in the same state as New York City and just across the (great) lake from Toronto, standards are high.  Yet trying to pit Rochester's food scene against that of two of the largest cities in North America is not particularly fair.  Rochester's charm shines when the local offerings are viewed in the context of a great cost of living and generally hassle-free life.  And thus, the food scene needs to be assessed through a similar lens.  How is Rochester's culinary situation when affordability is taken into account? As it turns out, pretty darn good.

This ranking by WalletHub attempted to capture the best cities for foodies on a budget.  Affordability, diversity, accessibility, and quality were measured using 18 metrics.  (Interestingly, Rochester didn't even fare particularly well in affordability yet performed very well overall.)  While such rankings can be questionable, the presence of Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA, seems to legitimize this list.  Here are the Top 10:

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Oakland, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Cincinnati, OH
  7. Santa Rosa, CA
  8. Tampa, FL
  9. Rochester, NY
  10. Miami, FL

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I have been asked the following question several times: "Where do I fly to get to Rochester?" To which I usually reply, "Rochester."  The general surprise that comes with learning about Rochester's airport is yet another marker of the fact that the region is poorly branded and overall misunderstood.  Although the Greater Rochester International Airport is by no means a transportation hotspot, it suits the region well.  Here are a few facts that exemplify how the airport adds to an already remarkable quality of life:

  • Direct flights are available to major cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, and Atlanta.  As such, when the airport calls itself a "Gateway to the World," that's actually kind of reasonable.
  • A door-to-door trip can easily be less than 30 minutes.  That means getting from your front door to a parking lot, taking a shuttle to the airport, checking in, clearing security, buying a magazine, and reaching the departing gate can occur in under 30 minutes.
  • The airport is barely 3 miles from downtown and actually looks really nice.
  • Shuttle parking is available for $7 per night.
  • Wi-Fi is free.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Life

Rochester's reputation on a national level is less than optimal:

  1. Rochester is located in two regions which have taken a beating, namely the Rust Belt and Upstate New York.
  2. It snows from time to time.
  3. Although on the upswing, downtown can still look like this on a Saturday afternoon.

Yet the region continues to grow.  Many who move away do so with angst.  Others who move away come back.  Transplants nearly universally recognize Rochester as a gem.  Because despite certain blemishes, Rochester can truly provide the good life.

Here is another source that recognizes the beauty of living here.  Family Circle recently studied 4,500 cities and towns with populations between 10,000 and 100,000.  From that, 1,400 localities having a high concentration of households with median incomes between $60,000 and $110,000 were chosen.  Locations were then ranked based on affordable homes, quality schools, access to health care, low crime rate, and financial stability.  In their words, the ten highest rated towns "have it all - great schools, affordable housing, and outstanding community spirit." In no particular order, and with the nearest city in parentheses, they were:
  • East Grand Rapids, MI (Grand Rapids)
  • Issaquah, WA (Seattle)
  • Mason, OH (Cincinnati)
  • Matthews, NC (Charlotte)
  • Hernando, MS (Memphis, TN)
  • Waukee, IA (Des Moines)
  • Waunakee, WI (Madison)
  • West Linn, OR (Portland)
  • Weston, FL (Fort Lauderdale)
  • Pittsford, NY (Rochester)