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The Buffalo Charlotte Connection: What It's About

The following is a transcript of a conversation between Mark Rumsey and Scott Graf about his series, "The Buffalo/Charlotte Connection." This transcript begins with Graf explaining how this series came about. Scott Graf: The newspaper here in town, The Observer, did an analysis in January of last year. That (story) essentially looked at tax records to see where people were moving from, and the article essentially showed that Buffalo was sending as many people to Charlotte as some much larger cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta. I think it's safe to say there are literally thousands of Buffolonians who now call not just Charlotte, but this region of the country, home. (I) went early in October to Buffalo and spent a couple of days there reporting, talking to a lot of folks up there. But my hope is there will be some parallels in the story that no matter where you move to Charlotte from, there's going to be something in it you can identify with and appreciate. Mark Rumsey: What specific topics about this Buffalo/Charlotte connection are you going to be delving into? Scott Graf: Well, our first story simply documents that there is a trend. Then, we'll look at what prompts someone to move from Buffalo, their hometown, to this new city in another apart of the country. We'll meet Carol Battaglia, who moved here to help her family start a Buffalo-style restaurant in the suburb of Huntersville Carol Battaglia: "Our $60,000 home in Buffalo, New York our taxes were higher than the taxes on our home here in Charlotte and our home here is $120,000." Scott Graf: Taxes when you talk to a Buffalonians, Mark, you hear over and over about how much lower the taxes are here. You hear about weather - obviously the weather here is much more mild than it is in Buffalo - they're already having snow there this week. But perhaps more than anything, a Buffalonian will most likely tell you that they moved here to pursue a professional opportunity. There simply aren't jobs in Buffalo like there traditionally have been in Charlotte, and that's what our second story looks at. And in our third story, we'll hear from some Buffalo natives who used to live in Charlotte but have since gone back to their hometown. One of those is James Apt James Apt: "There comes a point where weather, food, entertainment - those sort of things - the amount that they can increase your value of life compared to your family, it doesn't measure up anymore." Scott Graf: That's our final story come Friday. We'll look at some big picture issues; what does it mean for Charlotte? As young people move here, they're potentially going to be leaving when family, mom and dad, get older back in their hometown whether it be Buffalo or other parts of the country that folks have moved here from. Mark Rumsey: Scott, during your time reporting in Buffalo recently, does everyone pretty much know about Charlotte - where we are and what's going on in terms of these moves? Scott Graf: They do. It's hard to talk to a Buffalonian in Buffalo about Charlotte and have them not know someone who has moved here. In fact, I spoke a couple of weeks ago in great length to a congressman from this part of the country. And he said when he gets in front of moms and dads, parents maybe in their 50's or 60's, he asks them, "How many of you have lost a son on daughter to the Carolinas?" Talking about this part of the country as if it was a war or disease or something, I found that fascinating. But it really is hard to find someone in Buffalo who doesn't know maybe a classmate or a relative who comes to this part of the country and at least tried life down here. Mark Rumsey: Now Scott, had you been to Buffalo before you went for this series? Scott Graf: I had not. This was my first visit. Mark Rumsey: And what did you think of the place? Scott Graf: I thought it was very interesting. I found it to be a very underrated town. I think the architecture there is magnificent. The city has a lot of personality. I think when I hear a Buffalonian say they came to Charlotte and they found a city that doesn't have as much personality as the one they moved from, I can see why they say that. There's great food. The people were just exceptional people who had no idea who I was and why I was in town. They treated me as if I was an ambassador. They were very, very nice and very helpful. Like I say, underrated would be the word I take from my first ever visit to Buffalo. Mark Rumsey: And so no real sense of resentment toward you that Charlotte was stealing Buffalo residents? Scott Graf: No, not at all. I think the prevailing thought there is in some ways we've just been dealt a bad set of cards here. And Buffalo is in really bad shape, and that's no secret, especially in Buffalo. And they don't blame young people for wanting to leave that part of the country and pursue better opportunities here in Charlotte. They regret that it's come to that, but as far as resentment, I didn't really come across that even one time.