Binghamton, a City that Embraced Change… by Tom Egan…

Tom Egan, Pro-Binghamton, Direct from Paris, France!

Tom Egan, Pro-Binghamton, Direct from Paris, France!

By Tom Egan:

Yes, I’m a big-city guy at heart, but happiness comes in a lot of different packages, and I’m glad I live where I do.

It’s been said that if you are connected with yourself and your emotions, as well as with friends and community, you can be happy anywhere. But that statement sells this town short. In theory, I am “stuck” here because of family commitments and my small business. But if I am indeed “stuck” here, I am a happy and willing prisoner.

In the past 30 years, I have seen our town transform itself from a blown-out post-industrial lesson on the price of resistance into a community in the midst of an economic and social rebirth, with a thriving arts and culture scene that few could have imagined at the onset.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in 1984...

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in 1984… Photo Credit:

Exactly 32 years ago, I sat in my tiny apartment in Paris pondering a pivotal decision that pitted coming back to the U.S. to attend Binghamton University against pursuing an economics degree in France. An entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of the differences in social mobility between Europe and the U.S. drove me back home. I chose Binghamton for a variety of practical reasons, in addition to the reputation of the university.


So why did my adoptive hometown undergo such a substantial and rather abrupt reversal of fortunes about 10 years ago? You could say it was the university, but it had already been here for many decades at the time. Why, then? Was it Mayor Matthew Ryan and his urban renewal initiatives? The Gorgeous Washington Street Association? The Downtown University Center? The committed real estate developers and the grants, agencies and programs that supported them? Mayor Richard David and his focus on developing infrastructure? Was it the club and gallery owners, and the musicians and artists who brought life to gray streets and boarded-up storefronts?

Binghamton's Centennial Celebration on 1967.

Binghamton’s Centennial Celebration on 1967. Photo Credit:

In truth, all of these built a critical mass, setting the stage for durable and sustainable change. As larger economic trends forced us to look beyond our historical reliance on manufacturing, we took advantage of new opportunities in health care, services and education. As the university grew and other opportunities faded, mathematics took over, and the university-related imports making up our permanent population grew from a relative minority to a significant — and even driving — force in our socioeconomic fabric. Our ethnic diversity increased, but our intellectual and creative diversity increased even more. Instead of rejecting this influx and demographic shift, we chose to embrace the opportunity. As a result, this region is now full of people having a sincere desire to improve their lot coupled with some very potent tools to accomplish that goal.

The City of Binghamton We Love Today!   Photo Credit: Greater Binghamton Convention and Visitors Bureau

The City of Binghamton We Love Today! Photo Credit: Greater Binghamton Convention and Visitors Bureau

I’m proud to be a part of this community, and I look forward to contributing to, as well as reaping, the benefits of its successes.

The next time you hear someone speaking poorly of our hometown, right after you ask them what they’ve been doing lately to create that change they feel is needed, consider taking a moment to educate them on where we have come from and where we are headed. You never know, you just might help them to change their tune.

Tom Egan is a Binghamton resident.

Originally published by Press Connects

Republished with permission of the author.