BUFFALO, N.Y. - In Western New York, the narrative is one of a comeback right now.
The city isn't perfect, but there seems to be a general consensus that Buffalo has made major strides and improvements over the past five years or so.
The numbers do support the narrative to an extent: The population has increased slightly in Erie County since 2010, according to census data, and the 25 through 44 age group has ticked up about four percent. Reputable studies have shown Buffalo is attracting millennials at a higher rate than most other cities in the United States.
We're running a pre-Thanksgiving poll for everyone who's back in Buffalo for the weekend. Our question: If you've moved away, what would it take you to move back to Western New York? @WGRZ— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewakWGRZ) November 23, 2017
So on the night before Thanksgiving -- with Western New York natives all flocking back home to spend a long weekend with their families -- we decided to cruise around Buffalo and listen to their stories. Why did they move away? Would they move back? And if so, would what it take?
Here are a few of those stories:
John Mikulec: John was born in Buffalo but moved away at a young age. He now lives in Richmond, Virginia, but he's a lifelong Bills and Sabres fan with plenty of family here in Western New York. Would he come back? "It's always a possibility-- I haven't really thought about it much. But it's obviously a cool city," he said.
Chris Mikulec: Chris (John's cousin) went to Orchard Park High School but then chose a college outside of the state. He's a sophomore accounting major at the University of Tennessee. "If I could get a job here, that would be my number one goal, is to come back to Buffalo," Chris said. "It's my home. And it's somewhere I would love to be."
Timothy Sentz and Kathy Tatelbaum: Timothy and Kathy both live in Nashville now. Timothy is from Hamburg originally, but he left the area for military service. Kathy was born in Rochester before attending Fredonia and working in Buffalo. They believe a lot of people left Western New York because of the job market, but those opportunities seem to be increasing lately. And the city seems to have a more positive vibe: "It seems like everyone's always having a great time, it's kind of like Nashville, a little bit?" Timothy said. "A little bit," Kathy said.
Jason Godios: Jason is a Buffalo native, but he's lived on and off in Indianapolis for the past eight years. "There's been a shift, definitely, I think in tech-based jobs. Obviously, the medical campus has exploded, so in that sense yes, there's a change and more opportunities, which I think is driving the growth for the twenty and thirty-somethings to move back here.
Jolene McGilvary: Jolene is from Cheektowaga, but she's lived in North Carolina for the past 19 years. What would it take for her to move back? "Better jobs, lower taxes," she said with a laugh.