There is a lot of talk about Millennials and baby boomers these days. Each group consists of some 80 million Americans who will play an ever increasing role in whether our communities moves forward or backwards. So it is not surprising that cities are interested in finding out what they want in the places they choose to live.
The Millennials were born between 1982 and 2001 and are characterized as competitive, driven, thoroughly technology-savvy, and more practical than ideological. They are often seen as slightly more optimistic about the future of America than other generations. Having grown up being bombarded by advertising, Millennials tend to be skeptical about promotional material of any kind. Whether buying products and services or considering employment, Millennials are more likely to listen to their friends than to be affected by marketing or public relations material. This characteristic makes both conventional marketing and employee recruitment practices often ineffective for Millennials.
The Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1964 and are now empty-nesters, have sold their home in the suburbs and moved into a condominium. Most of their parents retired and stayed in the community where they spent most of their lives. That will not be the case for many of these Baby Boomers. They will take bolder steps and choose to retire differently than their parents and most likely will end up in a tailored retirement community or a downtown where they can walk to restaurants and participate in the local arts and recreational activities available there.
In a recent survey released by the American Planning Association consisting of roughly half Millennials, the other half Baby Boomers, the two groups appear to want many of the same things: better transportation options, walkable communities, technology-enabled cities, and housing that would allow “aging in place.” They believe that the path to prosperity lies in building up local communities – not through recruiting companies but by concentrating on these same basic elements of desirable places to live.
This past Sunday my Pastor spoke about this in his sermon, “The Generation Gap: Myth or Reality?” He explained five significant myths regarding the generation gap:
- The generations do not have anything in common.
- The generations cannot communicate with each other.
- The younger generations are less committed to God and the church.
- The older generations are more resistant to change.
- The generations cannot come together in pursuit of a common mission and vision.
He closed with the reality that these generations need each other and must come together in pursuit of a common mission and vision if they are going to meet the challenges and solve the problems that we all face today.
In order for us to be successful as a community, we will need to attract the Millennials and retain the Baby Boomers. That will not only take a great jobs strategy, but the implementation of a community wide master plan that includes key investments in public infrastructure which will make Springfield a more desirable place for both groups to live.