As underclassmen return to the residence halls, there is a new portion of the student body that is stepping out into the village of Geneseo––into real homes and apartments. The Statesmen owner Rocco Dragani plays a large part in that step, buying and leasing off-campus properties in Geneseo to students. Dragani is no stranger to the Geneseo area. He grew up in the town of York, New York, a short trip down the road. Dragani moved away from the area for school, traveling to the University at Buffalo to pursue a bachelor’s degree in legal studies. He also studied abroad in England and pursued a master’s degree there, but according to Dragani, something was always drawing him back to New York.
He decided he no longer wanted to pursue a legal career and was eventually presented with the opportunity to work in a trading firm. He spent around 12 years as a “market maker,” someone who works for a bank or brokerage firm and stands by all hours of the day with a firm to ask and bid prices on stocks.
“There are a lot of examinations and certifications, but it was something that was very interesting to me,” Dragani said.
After four years of working with the trading firm in Rochester, Dragani moved to New York City for eight years. Despite this, he felt that something was still drawing him to the area where he grew up.
“I wanted to come back home,” Dragani said.
He started to travel back to Geneseo on weekends, laying out a plan for transitioning back home by securing a job for himself.
“I started buying properties around the Geneseo area. I would buy and sell them, traveling home on the weekends to make deals,” he said.
The rental business was in his family for years, so it was an easy occupation for him to jump into while entering back into the Geneseo community. Dragani moved back during the summer of 2011.
At the start of his involvement in renting, he began to realize how much the student population affected his life and business. “It’s really enjoyable to work with students,” Dragani said.
Dragani’s passion for working with the student population was a large factor in his decision to assume ownership of the popular Geneseo bar The Statesmen. He took over when the previous owners chose not to renew their lease.
“I never thought I could see myself in the bar business, but it’s a lot of fun,” Dragani said. “I get to see the social side of the town and be a part of it. The Statesmen was one of the bars I came to, so now I get to see a new side of it…Geneseo is a great college town.”
Dragani is enthusiastic about the community surrounding both the college and the town, especially when it comes to student involvement.
“The quality of life here is greatly enhanced by the presence of students,” he said. “I love that I can’t find a parking spot on Main Street. Geneseo comes alive when the students come back and I love getting to be a part of that.”