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County to expand program that tries to keep college grads here through incentives

Monroe County Executive, Adam Bello, gives his state of the county address on healthcare at Monroe Community Hospital where he announced new initiates to help address the housing crisis.
Max Schulte
Monroe County Executive, Adam Bello, gave the first of four State of the County addresses, this one on healthcare, two weeks ago.

Monroe County to expand program that pays college grads to stay here and work

The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce plans to take over a Monroe County program aimed at keeping college graduates from leaving the area.

In addition to that shift, County Executive Adam Bello said Monday, the RETAIN program is also expanding. The idea, he said, is to provide an incentive to keep top-tier talent in the area.

Bello announced the changes during a workforce and economic development address.

"Every year, around 19,000 students graduate from one of our outstanding colleges and universities," Bello said. "But too many of our students come to Monroe County for their education and then leave after they complete their degree."

The program has been paying $2,000 bonuses to grads who stay and work here for a year.

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Monroe County launched the program two years ago with enough funding to enroll 50 people. But officials said they ended up with about 13. It was up to employers to apply.

Now the county plans to extend its funding and contract with the chamber. Bonuses would double to $4,000, with the goal of enrolling 75 people over the next couple of years. The onus to apply would shift to employees.

The program also would help pay for access to facilities at Innovation Square and for a recipient's family and friends to visit.

The program will be absorbed under the Chamber’s CampusROC online resource hub, which seeks to connect students with employers. The county’s Industrial Development Agency is scheduled to vote Tuesday on more than $200,000 in funding.

After his address, Bello made an unrelated announcement. He told reporters that with temperatures expected to hover in the 90s all week, the county opened its new accessible spray pad at Ontario Beach Park on Monday. Crews started work on the project last year, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the spray pad and an adjacent inclusive playground is scheduled for Tuesday. During this week's heat wave, the spray pad will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.
Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.