Charlotte ranks near top of cities in attracting young workers and Wyndham Capital Mortgage takes second place for Work/Life balance.
Cities are in a mad scramble to grow and retain the next generation of talented workers and leaders to move their communities and corporations forward. Most of these people are between 25 and 34 years old and have at least a four-year college degree.
Charlotte is doing better than most, says Carol Coletta, president of CEOs for Cities, a Chicago-based think tank focused on creating strategies to make cities vital and vibrant. The Queen City is second only to Las Vegas in the growth in population of 25- to 34-year-olds, and it’s one of the top cities they think of when choosing a place to live.
Coletta was the keynote speaker at the Charlotte Chamber’s Work/Life Awards luncheon which recognized Wyndham Capital Mortgage and eight other local companies for their innovative people practices and their impact on the city from an economic-development perspective.
Below are excerpts of an interview from before her visit, where Coletta discussed the steps Charlotte needs to take to continue wooing new, younger residents.
How does Charlotte compare when it comes to creating an attractive lifestyle for this group?
If you look at the number of people age 25 to 34 moving to Charlotte between 1990 and 2000, you’ve had this huge burst in college-educated young adults. Charlotte is second to Vegas.
When asked for their top choices, Charlotte was 12th, behind Atlanta, Tampa, Miami and Raleigh. The fact that Charlotte made the list is surprising because young people have only vague impressions of cities.
One of the things we found in national studies is that 64% of college-educated people choose a place to live and then choose a job. City officials recognize the value organizations have in making it easier for college-educated young people to plug and play and make the city more exciting to young adults and encourage them to stay.
What are some cities doing to reach out to this target market?
We see a lot of groups targeting young adults get organized with the help of local foundations in Tampa, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago. They’re very, very good at encouraging this market and figuring out where it fits in and makes a difference in cities. In Memphis, a number of civic and economic-development organizations have begun to include positions on boards for someone in this age group.
It’s important to recognize that eating, drinking and socializing are all part of quality of life to this market, but it’s not everything. The first thing they want in a city is clean, green and the opportunity “to live the kind of life I want.” A lot of cities try to jump to gimmicks. You have to be careful your strategy doesn’t overlook these basics.
What suggestions would you share with cities to consider how to attract young adults?
You have to look at: How easy does a city make it to enjoy the city? It is things like density and compactness. How convenient is transit? It’s about green spaces that are easy to get to.